Which Companies are Innovating in Omni Channel Retail?

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As shopping has changed over the years, so have customer expectations.  Increasingly, customers are seeking a consistent shopping experience.  Retailers have met this challenge by instituting promotions and loyalty programs.  These offers allow retailers to compete for the best customers.  IDC’s report Omni-Channel Loyalty and Promotions Technology Evolution examines the best practices for winning and maintaining customers.

Retailers are using technology to ensure that no matter how a customer shops – in store, online, via catalogue or by call centre – that the shopping experience is consistent.  Implementing this technology quickly enough has been a challenge for retailers as every part of the business has not been able to adapt as quickly or as smoothly.  As a consequence, some retailers are struggling.  IDC’s report Emergence Omni Channel Digital Asset and Content Management and Enterprise Collaboration examines trends in the field, the challenges retailers face and products aimed at retailers.

Companies need to learn how to compete in a new environment, changing the company culture and working to gain new customers.  This is examined in full detail in IDC’s report Retail Execution Strategies for SMRs.

Omni-channel retail faces many obstacles.  According to a survey conducted by Periscope, a unit of consultant group McKinsey Solutions, most retailers believe the absence of reliable customer data is the main reason Omni-channel solutions fail.  The survey also revealed that although 64% of retail executives believe having an Omni-channel presence is the key to growth, 78% of retailers have no unified brand experience.

The survey was conducted at the World Retail Congress 2016.

Channie Mize, Periscope’s general manager for retail, said in a press release published by Retail Dive, “The biggest challenge for retailers is the organizational change that needs to take place: The removal of organizational siloes, creation of new processes, and the forming teams that work across, rather than within, channels. These take careful planning and execution, but cannot be ignored, because without them any retailer is doomed to fail.”

For as many obstacles that exist, there are things that Omni-channel retail does correctly.  As ecommerce grows, so does a retailer’s Omni-Channel presence.  According to IT Pro Portal, ecommerce revenue had doubled over the past five years, with 84% of retailers receiving direct orders online and 76% receiving direct orders in store.  Technology also has been keeping pace, making it easier for retailers to keep track of inventory and for them to devise easier ways to make deliveries.  It also becomes more important for retailers to be able to follow through with promises such as next-day delivery.  Finally, ease of returns is important to an Omni-channel retailer.  Customers are expecting multiple ways to make returns and exchanges as well as places to return their purchases.

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