Understanding Omnichannel Retail: Why It Matters & How to Get Started

by Admin July 6, 2017

An omnichannel approach is now the most crucial sales and growth strategy for retailers struggling to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive industry dominated by online sales. However, retailers need to understand omnichannel and carefully evaluate their options before investing in a strategy and the technologies to drive it.

Here’s a quick summary of some key omnichannel trends and considerations you should keep in mind for your retail business.

A recent study by comScore and UPS showed that shoppers made 51 percent of all their purchases online in 2016. This marked a turning point for retail and the first time in history that the majority of purchasing happened online.

As more statistics like these emerge, some analysts have predicted the death of traditional retail, citing an inevitable and precipitous decline sparked by the dominance of online retailers such as Amazon. But how do they explain Amazon’s move into brick-and-mortar retail?

In November 2015, Amazon shocked the retail industry by opening its first brick-and-mortal retail store. A few months later, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon plans to open as many as 400 bookstores. The stores will be used to collect new data, stock shelves from nearby warehouses, serve as “experience centers,” and provide pick-up and drop-off points for 24-hour deliveries and returns.

At ASI, we’re hardly surprised by Amazon’s move into brick-and-mortar. It’s part of creating a true omnichannel experience, which means meeting your customers anytime and anywhere, both online and in stores.

Online channels, such as retailer websites, social media, email marketing, and digital as well as mobile marketing are keys to engaging customers as they’re shopping and comparing prices before they buy. In the store, face-to-face interactions and in-person experiences help convert online shopping and price comparisons into successful sales and repeat business.

In fact, a recent study reported in the Harvard Business Review found that only 7 percent of consumers are online-only shoppers, and only 20 percent are store-only shoppers. The remaining 73 percent are omnichannel customers, who are considerably more valuable than single-channel customers.

Omnichannel customers spend an average of 4 percent more on every in-store shopping occasion and 10 percent more online than single-channel shoppers. With each additional channel they use, they spend more in-store. For example, if they use four or more channels, they spend 9 percent more in-store than single-channel customers. Those who conduct online research on the retailer’s website or other sites before they buy spend 13 percent more in-store than single-channel shoppers.

As the study points out, omnichannel engages shoppers with your brand and ultimately draws them into your physical store. By giving them a seamless, multi-channel experience, you can capitalize on the higher value of omnichannel customers and give them an experience that online pure players can’t match.

Indeed, the best retail brands have achieved success, despite the online trends, by delivering a consistent experience across all channels and valuing the in-store as well as the online experience.

At ASI, we help our clients achieve this by providing consulting, technologies, and support to help them connect and optimize all of their marketing channels—including their website, mobile, social, and other digital experiences, as well as warehousing, inventory, delivery, and in-store operations.

Our recommendations often include implementing and integrating retail technology solutions from our partners at Zebra Technologies. Zebra’s mobile computers, barcode and RFID scanners, and printing solutions offer unprecedented data capture and analytics capabilities, which help you connect all of your retail channels, understand your customers, and develop innovative ways to serve them.

They also empower your staff to provide better service and in-store experiences by enabling better face-to-face engagement, better access to product and inventory information, self-service options, click-and-collect fulfillment, and loyalty solutions to encourage repeat business.

To learn more about omnichannel retail and find the right strategies and solutions for your business, contact us now to request a free consultation. We’d be happy to help.

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