Why omni-channel customer experience is the way forward for retail

The very core of omni-channel approach of the retailers is heavily backed by and is dependent on technology

By Rajiv Kumar

Ever since the pandemic outbreak last year, innovation has become the key to survive and thrive in the market. Transforming the brick-and-mortar manner of working and introducing new-age strategies has stepped up as the viable solution for businesses to sustain their growth in the market. The retail sector has been no exception! It has also been treading on the path of innovation so as to cope with industry dynamics induced by COVID-19. Hence Omni-channel has emerged as a bleeding edge for the sector as a part of digital disruption!

Owing to its feature of offering high-end immersive customer experience, consequently, this trend indeed will pick up pace in the times ahead. A recent report by Market Watch points out a similar trend and states that the global Omni-channel retail commerce platform is anticipated to grow from $2.99 billion in 2017 to $11.01 billion by the end of 2023. Furthermore, it is projected that the market will grow at a CAGR of 21.48%. The surge in e-commerce online
shopping along with the rising adoption of smartphones are playing a major role in pushing the growth of the omni-channel experience in the retail sector. The customers’ demands for such will further push the growth of the market.

Retailers adopting the omni-channel route

Omni-channel model is the practice of reaching customers via multiple channels or touchpoints with the sole aim to offer them a seamless experience. It helps provide unified experiences across digital and physical channels right from surfing to the order placement and delivery stages. The retailers are leveraging the potential of technology in order to devise state-of-the-art omni-channel strategies for their businesses.

Following this approach indeed reaps various benefits in the long run. Adopting this route helps retailers in tapping a vast target audience as well as building a loyal customer base. Adding to it, it also helps generate revenues via multiple channels of marketing. However, there is no one size fits all strategy when it comes to taking the omni-channel path. Every retailer will have to modify the plan as per their operations and customer base. But it is critical that they adopt the right strategies and technologies so as to extend a high-end omni-channel customer
experience. This is essential as investing in the wrong tactics or irrelevant technologies could cost the retailers fragmented investments that could destroy the value of their company and experiences.

Any omni-channel model has three primary strategies-

Commerce– Here we focus on offering superior cross-channel shopping experiences both in-store and online space. The customer at this step is engaged and incentivized so that he/she keeps on coming back.

Personalization– In this stage, we aim at extending tailored, targeted, and customized cross-channel engagement that would be relevant for the customers. Here, we need to offer high-end and innovative experiences so that the customers are hooked and tend to stay connected for long.

Ecosystem– In the final step, we focus on delivering cross-channel platforms that offer enriching experiences integrated with the consumer’s needs, preferences, and lifestyles. They get a chance to connect with like-minded users as well as have access to new experiences and high-end content.

Conceptualising an omni-channel strategy

In order to devise and implement a successful omni-channel model, we need to have the below-mentioned prerequisites-

Data about customer touchpoints

The first step is conducting an extensive study and researching about your customer’s shopping behavior. This also includes gathering their personal information, demographics detail, along with their preferences in shopping experiences. Additionally, you also need to cull out insights into their purchasing journey. Once this information is in place, you will be able to conceptualize the right engagement strategy.

Competition mapping

Having knowledge about your competitors, their offerings, their USPs as well as their performance in the market is another important step while planning your omnichannel strategy. Deep diving into their e-commerce strategies, gathering information about their widely used channels for the omni-channel strategy as well as analyzing their social media presence would prove to be beneficial as it would help attract and convert customers effectively.

Finalizing the right channels

Basis the responses and data gathered in the above two stages, you can now determine the feasible channels for executing the omni-channel model. These channels should however be chosen keeping into consideration that your customer is able to connect as well as engage effectively and seamlessly with your business.

Tailored shopping experiences

The final stage is to offer tailored and personalized shopping experiences by building a robust marketing plan. Consumers engage at greater levels and tend to stick around for long with those brands that offer relevant and hyper-personalized shopping experiences.

Technology: A core element for adopting the omni-channel path

While offering omni-channel experiences to the vast customer base can be a tough job, technology steps in as a blessing in disguise for the same. The advanced tech solutions enable to set up digital shops, help retailers easily connect with audiences in the online space and improve customer experiences. Be it e-commerce marketplaces, headless commerce, Software as a Solution (SaaS) or Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS), technology is leaving no stone unturned so as to support the retailers in their maximum capacity in executing their
omni-channel strategy.

Roadblocks in the path of setting up an omni-channel model

However, the concept does come with its fair share of challenges. Retailers not only have to overcome organisational silos and culture but also have to cope up with the industry changes while treading on the omni-channel path. Moving on from the brick-and-mortar model of working is another major roadblock while deploying omni-channel strategy. Furthermore, picking the right technology partners that offer new-age services along with cost-efficacy
features are critical because this decision could eventually make or break the model. Another hurdle while adopting this route is that retailers would have to initially invest considerable with no guarantee of instant profits.

Summing Up!

The need to be omnipresent has given the push to the retailers to have their omnichannel model. However, being a bleeding-edge strategy, its efficacy and efficiency in the retail sector are yet to be evaluated and validated. But the pace at which it is gradually entering the retail market, that day won’t be far when it will no longer be a trend. But it will rather become a necessity in today’s digital-driven world! The very core of omni-channel approach of the
retailers is heavily backed by and is dependent on technology. Since the customer is the king, it is essential to offer them high-end customer experiences so as to foster connections with them and keep them engaged with our business for long. Hence, omni-channel is emerging to be the bleeding edge for retailers and is also enabling them to undergo digital transformations in the truest sense!

The author is founder and CEO, StoreHippo

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