The retail landscape has changed for good, you are never going to stop the rise in ‘Internet retailing’ and avoid the headline ‘demise caused by a failure to embrace the web’ in the retail press. The up and coming buzz word in the retail market place ‘Omni-channel retailing’ – one solution for in-store and online is all about mirroring your eCommerce and retail store sales. The goal is to present a common product, pricing and loyalty framework to your customers, no matter how they choose to interact with you.

What are the advantages?

The key primary advantage for the retailer is to have a single point of product administration, to maintain your data in one place and to have the ability to use it many times. This enables you to keep consistency in your descriptions, pricing, promotions and linked items such as warranties, images, weight, dimensions and delivery terms. This also saves your team from duplicating product information and provides the same level of customer information and service.

The secondary advantage is to have a consistent and common view of your customers, including quotations, orders, order statuses, purchase history, payment tokenisation, gift cards, loyalty schemes and CRM (with GDPR preferences), for marketing and up-selling incentives. It is a way to engage effectively with your customers and to incentivise them to buy more from you. Simply put, one solution encompassing all the customer touch points; web, mobile, text and email, to help you to manage and interact with them along with your in-store sales personnel.

How is this achieved under the old banner of multi-channel solutions?

This is where software application specialists team up with other partners to provide a ‘joined-up solution’. For the retailer, this means that you have several contracts with different solution partners. Then you have the age-old problem of Partners blaming each other if the prices did not go up to the website, or that a web order has been lost. Therefore, if you are the retailer, you are stuck between the various software companies. The advantage was that you could choose a ‘best of breed back office’ solution and a bespoke designed website, which leads us onto our next point, how to choose a website?

How do you choose a website?

Choose a website that is designed and focused around your requirements, your image and your style of retailing. Find an eCommerce provider that is experienced in your retail sector and one that can provide a range of digital marketing services that will enable you to attract new and potential customers in your geographic location.

So, now that we are in the era of omni-channel retailing with one solution partner and one contract to deliver, that provides you with one application, bespoke websites, digital marketing services, mobile and in-store apps, and a ‘best of breed back office’ solution.

If, as a retailer, you wanted to bring your in-store and online selling channels together and take the leap forward in a fully joined-up omni-channel solution, watch out for the words such as ‘integrations’ ‘API’ (application product interfaces) and ‘file transfers’. These are all indications that you will be entering into several supply contracts from different parties. Instead, think about the same level of information to go across all customer channels, from creating a quote in-store, retrieving it online and converting it to an order. Thus, providing the customer with access to their order from the comfort of their sofa, seeing the current estimation of delivery, allowing them to book their delivery slot or to pay the balance off online. If they use a gift card purchased in-store on their next online sale, they can be awarded loyalty points for online purchases, these are just some of the benefits of an omni-channel solution.

How do you compete in retail?

To conclude, in order to survive in retail, you must compete with the big eCommerce providers, you need to prevent them from stealing your traditional customers and attracting new ones. It is a level playing field if you choose a true omni-channel solution provider and embrace the Internet.