Key steps to omnichannel retail success
What are potentially the three most significant pain points that retailers are currently facing:
Decreasing revenues and margins as retailers struggle to win at omnichannel and meet evolving customers´ expectations.
High employee turnover and finding digital/ next-gen talent
Inability to implement the right new technology and lack of proof-of-concept of how digital is helping to grow the business despite spiraling IT spending (“The Value of IT”)
Gen Z and millennial shoppers are more connected, better informed and channel-neutral.
Customers expect a shopping experience that is as convenient as possible, eliminating all barriers between the consumer and the purchase of a product. This includes easy shipping and returns, same-day delivery, in-store pick-up and drop-off, and making it easy to find and check out online and offline.
Customers expect a shopping experience that is as convenient as possible, eliminating all barriers between the consumer and the purchase of a product.
Despite this shift, many retailers have responded passively, trimming costs to pay for closed stores, while under-investing in critical capabilities such as IT, digital and talent. In the meantime, legacy structures and processes remain in place, even as the entire industry landscape has changed, making retailers slow to react and unable to keep up with customer´s expectations. To meet the unprecedented challenges ahead, traditional retailers have no choice but to transform their operating model. So what are the key steps for omnichannel retail success?
Orchestrating a channel-unified and personalized customer experience
We live in a hyper-connected world where other people inform, influence and guide us about the decisions we take. In recent years, the customer´s engagement with brands has extended from traditional media and brick-and-mortar stores to e-commerce, emails, social media, mobile apps, and messaging. Within this, customers expect an experience which is unified across all channels, as well as rich and unique. However companies often struggle to achieve this as internal functions have been re-acting rather than pro-acting to a 360 set up, and developed their own individual CX solutions in the process. It has become increasingly challenging to connect the silos so that a seamless experience becomes highly challenging if not impossible, and the resulting lost opportunities to build customer loyalty put the retailer´s future growth at risk. Therefore companies need to…
Create convenient, rich and personalized experiences across all channels the customer is using.
Through the use of digital tools, hear what the customer is saying: as tech brings in customer data, AI can identify patterns to help us makes sense of it and allow companies to be proactive to customer feedback.
Personalized interaction and communicate best offers to customers in real time.
Rethink the role of the store to flexible stages of personalized experience: As traffic in stores will be down permanently, retailers need to give customers reasons to visit by gaining a deep understanding of their preferences and changing the role of the store to match them.
Manage customer journey orchestration centrally to oversee the entire omnichannel perspective of activities.
Refine the KPIs needed to measure an omnichannel business, considering the experience level and customer engagement in parallel to channel-integrated sales targets and conversion rates.
Companies can achieve this by… TRANSFORMING TO A CONSUMER-CENTRIC MINDSET, realizing that customers are engaging with an exploding amount of channels, revealing increasing amounts of data which is changing the experience a customer expects from the brand. BECOMING AN OMNICHANNEL-FIRST ORGANIZATION through merging of online and offline teams and ensuring a 360 aligned brand experience. UNIFYING CUSTOMER PROFILE DATA COLLECTION ACROSS ALL CHANNELS to one single source of truth. IMPLEMENTING AI CAPABILITIES as the foundation to drive real-time personalized marketing opportunities. Customer experience platforms will enable retailers to develop these abilities, and to reach out in real-time to the customers with selected personalized content on their preferred channels. Killing silos allows the business to increase effectiveness across all customer-facing teams and leaves the customer feeling connected and understood. Digitizing the instore customer journey Technology is enabling retailers to elevate the in-store experience in different ways.
Brand & Product Amplification
Screens and digital touchpoints have the power to amplify brand story-telling, further enhance product presentation and allow stronger communication of product attributes. In addition, orchestrating and updating content at the touch of a button save significant physical resources.
Endless aisle solutions give the customer easy digital access instore to the full collection, enabling in-store stock visibility for customers who want the product immediately.
Smart fitting rooms and the ability to request different styles, colours and sizes without leaving the fitting is a growing norm for many fashion retailers.
Instore contactless- or mobile- payment methods avoid having to wait in line at the checkout and speed up sales processing.
Giving staff comfortable access to customer profile data, buying history and shopping preferences, as well as enabling AI assisted smart recommendations, allows the customer to be serviced in a highly personalized way. Furthermore, store staff who are enabled to interact with customers pre- and post-purchase with personal product recommendations generated via AI-assisted tools, generate significant up- and cross-selling potential.
Gamification and other new innovative ways to give customers fun and meaningful ways to engage with the brand are giving retailers relevant new opportunities to attract customers into store.
Giving customers inspiring ways to connect in-store to social media, for family & friends affirmations and earning membership points, offer great ways to build brand communities and gain customer loyalty.
Retail operations need to be adapted and transformed if retailers want to stay ahead.
Digitizing store operations
Technology will also transform the employee journey in stores, reducing operations costs and allowing sales associates to spend more time on qualify interaction and service with the customer.
Digital “staff scheduling apps” allow store staff to book and exchange shifts with other team members instead of taking up valuable store managers time.
In-store sensors monitor inventories, with machine-learning systems able to plan replenishment schedules.
Hand-held tools for staff enable visibility of customer preferences, real-time stock visibility, and smart recommendations.
Automatized store reports handled by AI tools, allowing management to proactively plan performance improvements.
The ROI of in-store digitization
The store P&L of the future is likely to look very different for the omnichannel connected retailer:
Optimized assortments and personalized offerings will raise sales and reduce waste.
Up- and cross-selling opportunities through digital tools will increase conversion and average transactions.
Higher costs for skilled and knowledgeable sales staff can be offset by digitizing and automating of back-of-house operations.
Improved customer experience and staff service will have a positive impact on loyalty and long-term margins as customers are prepared to pay more for the brand they love.
The technology necessary to achieve this transformed P&L is available now enabling stores in the future to double their profitability.
In summary With a consumer-centric mindset, now is the time to invest in the right technology and rethink retail structures and operations to meet the changing customer demand and expectations. Consumers are more knowledgeable and have clear expectations of what retailers need to offer. Once you meet these expectations, brand loyalty and desirability is high.
Several new technologies are already becoming standardized for the retail floor. AI technology can structure the vast amounts of data that retailers are revealing which can be translated into 1:1 personalization. Now is a great time for retailers to embrace the opportunities of emerging technologies and granular customer data to transform the retail experience!