Are you Prepared for an Omnichannel Future?

PricewaterhouseCoopers says that “By 2020, the demand for an Omni-Channel customer experience will be amplified by the need for nearly perfect execution!” So, what is ‘an Omni-Channel customer experience’? It’s one in which all customer and product data is consistent across all channels; web, mobile, digital signage, social, POS, and more. Omnichannel centralizes product and customer masters and feeds the appropriate information uniformly to each channel, so that no matter where a customer interacts with your company, the information they receive is identical.

Today, most companies are running multi-channel operations – ones in which each channel runs parallel to the other. Product information such as pricing and quantity available are kept in similar, but different, databases. The same goes for customer information. In omnichannel implementations, a single instance of the data is shared by all of the various sales channels. This sharing of data makes it much easier to create personalized marketing and shopping experiences for your customers. Because all channels are interconnected, it becomes easier for companies to offer buy online and return to store, or buy online and pick up at store.

An example of Omni-Channel in action may go something like this: A customer is out-and-about, and on their mobile phone they search for a particular product. They find the product at a nearby store, so they go to the store to try it on. They leave without making a purchase, but then check product reviews on websites and social media platforms on their way home. Now, having seen good reviews and the product in-person, they buy the product from your website and choose to pick it up in-store the same day. Two things of note. First, at the writing of this article,

  • 60% of all Google searches are from mobile devices
  • 82% of mobile users search online for products that they end up buying at a retail outlet
  • Of these searches, 18% are converted to a sale within twenty-four hours

And second, but every bit as important, if the information at each of those channels had not been the same, studies show that the likelihood of closing the sales diminishes greatly. For example, if the web search showed the product in stock but when the customer arrived at the store moments later it wasn’t, or the price shown online was different than at the retail store, or if colors shown online did not match the retail outlet, there is an excellent chance that the company would lose the sale. Not only affecting this sale but, future visits/sales as well.

The latest trends where customers explore, buy, pick-up, and return products across multiple channels means it’s critical for all of your channels be unified. Further, it says that companies need to be prepared to ship from all available stock, across all channels, to anywhere, at any time. Which means that companies not only need to Digitally Transform their current operations but, they need to implement new ways of retailing such as “delivery from the store,” “Click and Collect,” or “purchase online, return to the store.”

The purpose of omnichannel enablement is to give your customers the best possible options – every time and everywhere. The faster you align your strategy between your digital and physical worlds, the quicker you gain a competitive edge. Much of this, therefore, depends on how future-proof your data management strategy is. Start developing a smart data-plan today and you will be in the lead.

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