What is Omni-Channel?

Omni channel definition

With the proliferation of social media and evolution of newer technologies, there are, now, multiple ways for businesses to reach their customers. Also, marketers today have various platforms to promote their products on. Thus, customers expect a smooth and seamless experience across all such channels and platforms. This is what lies at the core of the Omni-Channel concept.

The next-step in multi-channel retailing, a good Omni-Channel experience spans the varied interfaces customers have for engaging with brands, which in turn depends on the way different brands enable consumers to use such channels/platforms to interact with them. The Omni-Channel approach, thus, has opened up newer avenues for businesses to make their presence felt and attain set objectives.

Omni Channel Strategy

Why Omni-Channel?

The line between online and offline retail is fast blurring, with Omni-Channel consumer being the central force shaping the future of brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce sites alike. Businesses no longer have the liberty to choose between platforms. A customer could go online to research a product, go in-store to try it out and faced with an out of stock situation can place the order on his mobile when inside the store .The new-age customer thus demands a continuous brand experience, making it imperative for marketers to rethink strategies and adopt a holistic approach to creating a seamless brand experience by focusing on touch points across diverse channels.

Consumers expect products and services to be readily available, so organisations must be able to reach out and relay information in real time. This is what Omni-Channel strategies help businesses achieve. Customers, today, like to make informed decisions. Making the right information available in the right place at the right time, thus, establishes credibility, helps organisations get a competitive advantage, and increase sales and customer loyalty.

The Omni-Channel Advantage

Adapting to meet changing customer requirements makes all the difference between being a successful, profitable market player and barely managing to stay afloat. Continuity of experience made possible through interactive merchandising, informed assisted selling and varied self-service options helps garner the loyalty of digitally-savvy customers. Despite the challenges organisation face while organisational realignment and implementing infrastructural changes, Omni-Channel retailing is the key to attracting more customers and driving business value.

  • Improving customer perception – An Omni-Channel strategy facilitates a seamless transition from in-store to online purchase, ensuring an easy and convenient shopping experience for customers.
  • Increasing sales – Newer technologies have forced enterprises to think strategically and adopt newer ways of doing business. Thus, those with stock visibility and fulfillment options across channels stand a better chance of improving sales.
  • Ensuring better data collection – Omni-Channel strategies harness various data streams, enabling better and more accurate data collection. This information helps track customer behaviour and gain meaningful insights through business analytics, which in turn make critical inputs while formulating engagement plans that increase the probability of impulse buys through predictive analytics.
  • Enhancing productivity – Such strategies can arm store executives with tools and information that help improve efficiency. Smartphones and tablets are the first line of defence against informed customers and a great way of capturing feedback and customer data into loyalty-building elements.

Technology Enablers of an Omni-Channel Enterprise

The foundational technology elements to realize a truly Omni-Channel experience thus translate to two things – good data and good insights. Having a single view of customer, product, inventory and orders and having the customer touch-points emanate consistent branding, promotional and informational content seamlessly and in a personalized fashion is paramount to Omni-Channel success.

  • Retailers first must recognize that their core asset is their customer and invest in strong Master Data Management solutions to gather customer information in an Omni-Channel manner
  • Other foundational components include having visibility to key master and transactional entities across the supply chain – i.e. product, inventory and orders
  • An intelligent analytics platform deriving insights from these core entitites would then serve to be of tremendous value to retailers in framing their personalization strategy, CRM strategy and Omni-Channel initiatives
  • Mobile technology investments are a must to ensure the connected customer can have desired levels of personalization
  • Mobility enablement of in-store associates and mobile WFM solutions can play a key role in tackling show-rooming with empowered staff
  • Digital signage, touch-screen kiosks and virtual trial rooms to bring in an endless aisle in-store are ways to provide superior and engaging experiences in store

Omni-Channel is a journey and a philosophy for an organization and needs a cohesive strategy, organization structure, people, policies, technology enablers and partner ecosystem. The list here is not exhaustive and retailers must take a step back and take stock of their Omni-Channel readiness to understand where they are in this journey.

Omni-Channel Portfolio

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