Just a few days ago, my wife pulled me into a fashion store to buy a jacket for her brother’s birthday. Navigating floor to floor among chaotic categories without any salesperson, we tried to find out the specific jacket that we saw on the Brand Website. Finally, the flag was down. We came to ask the only store assistant on the 1st floor. Irony! 15 minutes in finding, he ended up with the answer “Sorry! Maybe that jacket is out-of-stock.” My heads felt the heat. Never in my life, I would step in that store again. There’s no excuse for a store like that any longer!
Then, we came home and get into the store nearby our house. Within 2 little seconds, the salesperson showed us that the jacket was out-of-stock. However, this time, salesperson offered us an amazing offer.
He said “We have sent the warehouse an email. Your jacket is on the way for 1 hour. If you don’t mind, we can bring you the jacket to your address without any shipping cost”.
“That’s not bad! I and my wife can get back home to prepare the outfit for her bro’s birthday tonight”, I think. In a blink, I agreed with that idea. And as compromised, the product came to my home in time. That was an amazing shopping experience!
As a retailer, I was quite curious about why and how they could work fast like that. Luckily, I found it.
Today, I will share you the key behind the scene: Omnichannel.
What is Omnichannel?
‘Omni’ has Latin roots in the omniscient realm, meaning perceiving all things — not just what is happening on a channel, but in all channels.
Channel is where stores and customers can meet and purchase products.
Omnichannel is the retail model in which all existing channels become completely integrated to offer customers a seamless shopping experience.
This retail strategy is empowered by centralized data management, which means that the distinctions among channels, even offline and online ones, are blurred.
As a result, customers can simultaneously use various channels in their shopping process, starting their search at a channel and finish the purchase in another one. They are given chances to create their own preferable shopping routines, which seems to be more attractive to a new generation of consumers in the 21st century.
It’s noteworthy that Omnichannel approach can be adopted simultaneously in sales channels, inventory management, and marketing strategy.
A New Type of Multichannel or A New Concept?
With the booming of Omni-channel, there have been a lot of opinions saying that omnichannel seems to be an extension of multichannel. However, this is a big MISUNDERSTANDING!
The two strategies are very distinct and separate retail models.
Using multichannel, retailers adopt as many channels as possible but manage them separately. Meanwhile, Omnichannel provides retailers a completely centralized data management towards a synchronization of existing channels. Therefore, it brings shoppers a seamless shopping experience when blurring all boundaries among channels.
Besides, a multichannel strategy is launched for the sake of retailers, so that they can sell as many products as possible. Whereas, customer centricity is the main core of Omnichannel. It means that retailers must “think like customers think” to optimize customer experience. Omnichannel businesses target at long-term shoppers, which means that they focus more on improving customer profitability instead of only sales growth.
Needless to say, we are turning into a new retail world of the Omnichannel culture featured with a new generation of Omni-shoppers and Omni-retailers.
Why go Omnichannel in 2018?
1. Customers are demanding kings and queens
Remember my experience with my brother-in-law’s jacket?
Even in 2018, the world will never stop running busier and busier. Consumers do not have time to wait for anything. They want something fast, something real-time. While they also want something safe and good (which demands careful check). But that is just their basic demand. They want more. They want to be cared. They want to have a discount on their special days. Want this, want that … If we do not meet their demand, they will coldly leave us and go to our competitor’s store! Oh, our customers, how can we “indulge” them?
Yes, of course, we cannot “indulge” them, but Omnichannel can.
Because Customer behavior is Omnichannel.
Let me take a small point. In Omnichannel, “all channels are integrated”. It means if your customers are visiting in your website, the store owner in brick-and-mortar also know their journey and advise them when they came to physical stores. In general, if they once shop in one of your channels, their information will be synced in all channels.
But that is not the only reason why you should go Omnichannel in 2018?
2. Online never dies
According to Harvard Business Review:
“Online retail is thriving. Retail sales through digital channels (including mobile sales) increased by a massive 23% in 2015. Much of these gains have gone to online retailers. Amazon is the biggest beneficiary, now accounting for 26% of all online retail sales.
What is more, as it continues to expand aggressively into new categories like grocery and fashion, Amazon’s existential threat to traditional retailers is greater than ever”.
Yes, it is!
Consumer spending will still keep shopping online. For example, in the UK, in-store transactions have fallen at the highest rate in five years. Moreover, 31% of surveyed shoppers there expect to spend more online in 2018 than this year. Meanwhile, in the US, if recent trends continue, eCommerce sales growth will once again outpace in-store sales growth next year.
3. But most of the sales are from in-store
In 2016, Amazon, an online business, opened Amazon Go – a brick-and-mortar store. Why? What will happen in 2018?
Customers love brick-and-mortar, as they can check the products directly and can try the products to decide whether it is compatible with them or not.
While spending shifts to online retail, many see the bulk of customer sales to continue in stores. As in-store sales continue to grow (albeit at a lower rate than online), trends point to the importance of the brick-and-mortar piece of the omnichannel. In fact, pure-play online businesses will continue to go omnichannel in 2018 with showroom and experience retail.
However, this does not mean that you need to build a huge physical store to show all the Qty. of products you sell online. In 2018, that is not a good idea! Do more with less.
Instead of bigger and larger footprints, consider downsizing and optimizing the store to create a showroom, thus offering a more immersive brand experience. Besides, you might also consider RFID, a store-within-a-store model (which has grown in popularity recently).
RFID, powered showrooms, only need to stock enough items for customers to touch, feel, and try on. It embedded product tags allow customers to approach a kiosk, select their size, color, etc., and have the item delivered to their home. Alternatively, a store-within-a-store reduces overhead expenses like rent and electricity.
4. Ease yourself – a store owner
Today is technology time. 2018 must be the year for you to “relax”.
Omni-channel is to integrate and control all channels at one time, but it does not mean that YOU have to manage and record all channels at one time. The Omni-channel system will help you do that. In Omnichannel system, all stocks and products among warehouses and stores(channels) will be synced together and record clearly (which is easier for you and your staff manage). All customer’s information will be automatically synced in real-time. And many more that Omni-channel system can do for you.
Better yet, the strong raising of AI (Artifical Intelligence) also supports you a lot in talking with customers, which makes your customers feel being cared.
Besides, if you want to explore the trendy Omnichannel style in 2018, read this article.
Be careful in Omnichannel!
Ubiquity but not relevance
Retailers have been chasing ubiquity when they need to be chasing relevance and differentiation. What a mistake! You need to avoid this in 2018.
Clearly, customers are engaging in more channels as part of their shopping journeys and retailers must respond accordingly. But in trying to be everywhere many brands have ended up being nowhere when it comes to a compelling offering.
An undifferentiated product, less than remarkable customer service and uncompetitive pricing are big mistakes that most retailers meet when implementing Omnichannel.
Solution: Personalize the experience.
Not enough focus and wrong priority
Never invest in e-commerce and digital marketing if you still have insufficient focus and priority. The majority of retail purchases in virtually all categories start online and, despite conventional wisdom, digitally influenced physical store sales are far bigger than online sales.
Many traditional retailers made their e-commerce offering better while underinvesting in their physical stores, seeming to forget that the lion’s share of shopping is still done in brick & mortar locations. Not every aspect of e-commerce or embracing a “digital-first” strategy is important.
Solution: Take a clear discussion with your team and Omni-channel Specialist
Don’t have a strong back-end system
A car cannot run properly with a bad machine. As well, Omnichannel Experience cannot work with a bad backend. In the modern technology life, the backend system is the “one and only” supporter of every store owners. Finding the best system for Omnichannel is the core key to success.
No one cannot deny that Omnichannel Experience can boost your revenue significantly. But this does not mean that you do not need to spend “a significant” expense on products, shipping, managing information, etc. Seriously! You cannot provide items to your customers in time if the items are continually out-of-stock. You need someone to help you manage and predict the supply Qty. you need for your store.
Solution: Find the best backend for your business.
After all, we can see that Omnichannel has become very “trendy” these recent years. However, everything has two faces. The more effective, the more dangerous. Thus, don’t be too rush in changing to Omnichannel or implementing any Omnichannel strategy. Everything needs take time. Before you put out any ideas, you need a clear discussion with your team and especially, with specialists. If you are still wondering where you can find out Omnichannel Specialist, here you are: