Omnichannel is Not Just a Buzzword- Customers are Demanding It

By Sunil Nair, VP-Technology, Max Hypermarket

Omnichannel, by definition, means ‘of all things’. In the retail environment this means being contextually relevant; giving consumers an experience that tallies with, and connects to, what they’ve done before and what they’ll do afterwards.

The first step in a shift towards omnichannel is being able to understand what this strategy is and aims to do. Simply put, omnichannel is an approach and strategy that aims to provide a seamless customer experience across multiple touch points, whether your customers are making purchases in person, or online from a desktop or mobile device. For a successful omnichannel strategy to work, the experience needs to be consistent, yet optimized for each unique constituent across the entire supply chain.

Regardless of what channel buyers use, businesses must be able to seamlessly align inventory management, order delivery and fulfilment to give customers the experience they expect.

Brick & Mortar Journey Towards Multichannel
It’s no longer bricks-and-mortar versus e-commerce. Today’s consumers do not care about channels. 
They want to be able to order online and get it home delivered or collect from store (click and collect), or to browse in-store and buy online. The smart consumer needs a smart retailer, able to give them a seamless, channel-agnostic shopping experience. And that’s what Omni-channel delivers. 
The bottom line: the customer wants what they want, when they want it, where they want it and at the price they want it. 
The brick-and-mortar store is a critical part of the omni-channel mix. Consumers love to see, touch and feel the products they are buying. According to the PwC’s Annual Global Total Retail Consumer Survey, the physical store remains the primary retail touch point for consumers.

Modes of fulfillment service lines:
- Buy Online and pick at stores (Click and Collect)
- Buy Online and delivery to Home

An important feature of this model is a technology that seamlessly integrates & displays online “real time inventory” of thousands of SKUs by store, good customer friendly website (UI/UX), accurate price & promotion information, mobile app based automated picking solution, fully integrated last mile delivery solution to meet delivery time slots & real time tracking of orders, convenient payment options with payment gateway integration, content management system, product management system.

Technology play
Today, technology no longer plays just a supporting role; it is also essential to strategic decision making. Customer expectations are rising, in part thanks to the strides made by new competitors, whose business models were built on technology; What’s more, about half of in-store purchases are influenced by online research, according to Forrester.

Retail technologies are evolving rapidly, and teams have more at stake than ever before as they place bets on new initiatives. Some of these technologies can be extremely disruptive for retailers- for example, smart phones which changed forever the way customers, compare prices and brought the online competition right into the store alongside a retailer’s displayed goods.
Adopting flexible, modular technologies will allow retailers to respond to opportunities. Modular technologies that allow integration with new technologies and pilot programs are two ways that retailers can be ready for full-scale rollout when they need to be.

Key Takeaways
• Consumers want simplicity, speed and accuracy, a unified customer service across platforms.
• Integrate and Streamline Supply Operations. This means having a product always available to the customer, in one way or another. This requires a fully integrated supply chain that’s able to meet the logistic demands of product fulfillment. 
• Customer service, improving the in-store experience is all about delivering an outstanding customer experience.
• Empowering the employee, great customer experience can only be achieved with the help of associates. If armed with the right technology, they can increase customer satisfaction and sales in stores.

Objective is to make the shopping process as easy as possible, and it’s targeted at customers who still do the bulk of their shopping in stores. But it also takes aim at shoppers looking to buy their groceries with a click and those who are hesitant to try online grocery shopping at all. 

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