People who shop in every channel spend more. Omnichannel consumers use all available sales channels – brick-and-mortar stores, catalogs, webshops, and call centers, in the store, at home, at the workplace, and on the move. While these consumers tend to have greater brand allegiance, they demand more of the brand and expect consistency across all channels. As customers, they want retailers to give them preferential treatment and engage with them on a personal level.
In retail, the focus has shifted in the past 15 years from traditional merchandise management via e-commerce to digital customer management. Today, traditional ERP processes within the enterprise have to be harmonized and seamlessly integrated with processes in webshops and customer-facing digital processes. You could say that the age of the seller has become the age of the buyer.
Nowadays, customers can call up product information in 10 to 20 different ways. Their access points are quite literally mobile and are no longer tied to store opening hours. Information on prices, delivery dates, promotions, delivery options, and so on is readily available. Delivery scenarios that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago are now taken for granted, and the opportunities in this area are far from exhausted. Customers increasingly appreciate personalized interaction and personal service. While few of today’s retailers truly know their customers and serve them accordingly now, this will very soon be a must.
From multichannel to cross-channel to omnichannel
What was true in the past remains true today: e-commerce concepts are often introduced with little, if any, integration with store retailing, its processes, and its application landscape. A new webshop can be opened in next to no time. But integrating it into a company’s organization and processes takes considerably longer. This discontinuity extends across all areas: separate assortments, different pricing, and different promotions. This is the multichannel approach – in which store and online retailing function as discrete sales channels and stand alongside each other like two distinct silos.
When the customer can move between channels – for example, by purchasing a product online and picking it up from the store – we call this a cross-channel approach.
At this stage, retailers are on their way to omnichannel business, in which all things are possible – as “omni”, meaning “everything” implies. Every conceivable purchasing and delivery scenario is integrated so as to focus firmly on the customer. The brand experience is unified, and shopping convenience is always an exceptionally important factor.
Behind the scenes, retailers now have integrated and flexible technologies and software solutions at their disposal. This enables real-time interaction and – drawing on vast volumes of data – allows customer expectations and behavior to be predicted with pinpoint accuracy, making personal scenarios a reality. This is where the processes of digital marketing come into play. Retailers not only have to engage with customers, but they also have to understand them and be able to interact with each of them individually. A prerequisite for successful digital experiences is a solid foundation – ideally, a single, scalable platform, on which you can rapidly create and manage emotionally engaging and persuasive content. Vast amounts of high-quality information have to be available in the marketing nerve center – in next to no time and incredibly efficiently. Retailers have to be able to “read minds” and provide individuals with the right information – for example, in the form of push messages – at precisely the time they most receptive to it. They have to gain and maintain the all-important edge over the competition. To do this, companies have to be able to maintain their agility at all times.
The omnichannel approach opens up new ways for retailers to interact with their customers and tap into additional potential. The role of traditional store retailing – the design of the sales branches and the role of the salespeople – is changing, and webshops are also being realigned. This not only makes it possible for customers to access information, shop, pay, and take delivery of items via all channels and in all combinations. It also makes doing so straightforward and convenient. In short, customers feel at home with the brand. The online channel can motivate the customer to shop in the brick-and-mortar stores and vice versa. The focus is always on the customers’ personal shopping experience and long-term brand loyalty.
Ahead of the competition
Intelligent integration of the sales channels is a crucial competitive advantage. Assortments can be tailored and varied not only according to the different channels but also to the individual customer. Thanks to rising digitization, customers can already create their very own personal products and have them delivered to their homes – and this will increasingly be the case in the future.
This intelligent game with assortments and channels takes the edge off the price wars waged by pure online players. These pure players, too, have recognized that, without bricks-and-mortar stores, they cannot survive in the market in the long term. Sustainable growth is possible only if all channels are used.
How do retailers transition from multichannel to omnichannel?
Omnichannel processes very quickly become very complex. They must, therefore, be considered holistically and brought into an effective commercial equilibrium, taking cost and operating criteria into account. The processes for achieving strategic corporate targets are also a key factor when it comes to deploying specific software solutions and applications to create an integrated architecture for omnichannel business. Sales channels, therefore, have to be considered holistically across three levels, from the perspectives of:
Implementing an end-to-end omnichannel strategy integrates all of these levels and strikes a healthy balance between complexity and profitability.
KPS can master this complexity and the interplay of these three levels, delivering one-stop, end-to-end concepts for omnichannel transformation: one consulting partner advises and assists the retailer from the very outset and shares responsibility not only for developing strategic policies but also for translating the omnichannel concept into practice and ensuring the right supporting software solutions are reliably implemented.
In addition to seamlessly integrating processes, this involves the highly complex management of data acquisition, distribution, and synchronization. As omnichannel business encompasses all points of sale, including stores, web shops and call centers, stock queries at the POS can rapidly push architectures to their limits. Information acquired also has to be deployed intelligently in digital marketing. The tools required to achieve this are available.
KPS can master this complexity and the interplay of these three levels, supporting retailers from development of their strategic policies to reliable implementation of the supporting software solutions – in other words, right through to the level of the system transaction. KPS shares responsibility with you from start to finish. At the end of the day, solutions developed at an early stage have to be feasible in practice. Ensuring this is the task of the KPS All-Stars, supported by the KPS Rapid-Transformation methodology, a proven tool that has been successfully deployed in many projects.
Holistically defining and successfully implementing an omnichannel strategy is a key success factor in any company’s digital transformation. KPS consultants leverage their extensive experience to support every step of the way. This includes successful integration of mobile devices, social media and Big Data, as well as digital marketing and management of customers’ experiences at every stage of the customer journey.