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.
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.
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.
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.
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.