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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Why Invest in Omni-channel?

Meeting the complex expectations of the omni-channel shopper demands substantial investment in emerging and effective technologies. Let us look at the factors that are driving omni-channel growth before discussing the return on investment.

The number of smartphone subscriptions globally was 1.6 billion in 2013. According to a report produced by a leading mobile technology enterprise, this figure is expected to increase to 5.6 billion in 2019. 90% of the world’s population will then be able to access mobile Internet connections. This growth in Internet penetration and the immense increase in popularity of smartphones will only magnify omni-channel customer behavior exponentially. These trends point towards omni-channel being the only sustainable way of doing retail business in the future as ‘one-click shopping’ becomes a reality.

Innovation in technology is also driving the retailers’ interest in omni-channel retailing, supporting new capabilities in personalized consumer engagement. Advances in store digitization technologies, predictive logistics, virtual assistance, and customer recognition systems are game-changers. These new technologies have the potential to disrupt existing business models in the same way as e-Commerce disrupted traditional brick-and-mortar sales few years ago.

In future, diverse business models will be driven by the modern day consumer’s preferences. The point in case will be e-commerce giants who are trying to add physical presence to get closer to the customers. Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar retailers are adding online stores and also reinventing the customer experience and the role of their stores (for example, by using stores as fulfillment centers for online orders).

Social media is becoming an increasingly powerful sales and marketing channel. Online companies sit on a goldmine of rich consumer data and they can easily use this to customize offers and target consumers more effectively. 

Thus today, technology enables consumers to be present anywhere and everywhere and to meet these consumers in their comfort zone, retailers need to be present wherever they are. For this, they need to invest in modern retail technologies that allows a seamless omni-channel customer experience. 

Thursday, 11 August 2016

What retailers need to understand about the Omni-channel Customer Experience

ETP Blog - What retailers need to understand about the Omni-channel Customer Experience

Retail has undergone a major transformation in the digital age, and today customers demand better, quicker and seamless experiences. Therefore, brands need to provide omni-channel experiences that allow customers to engage from wherever they are – brick-and-mortar stores, mobile apps, online, kiosks, catalog and more.

However, simply operating multiple retail channels does not constitute an omni-channel strategy, unless done right. Today, customers may start in one channel and switch to another as they progress to a definite buying decision. Omni-channel implies making these complex ‘hand-offs’ between channels must be effortless for the customer.

Omni-channel is not just a mere buzzword. It is essentially a cluster of strategies that need to deliver results. So what do retailers need to know to create a superior omni-channel customer experience?

360° Omni-Channel customer view
Collecting customer information such as shopping preferences, demographics, buying history, preferred modes of payment and so on is absolutely vital for creating a single unified view of the customer no matter which they use to research and purchase. When acquired, consolidated and leveraged fittingly, this analysis can provide a roadmap for retailers to define and deploy more personalised and effective communication and promotions, eliminating much of the guesswork.

Offer consistent and continuous experiences
Today, consumers have instant access to an extensive range of buying options, they will not think twice while letting go of a brand in search of a superior experience. Even if one of the channels is lagging, the retailer will likely see a drop in customer loyalty. Hence, the value of a complete, continuous and consistency is priceless.

Leveraging emerging technologies
The right technology investment is vital to enabling an outstanding omni-channel customer experience. Retailers should equip their business operations with the right mix of emerging and effective technologies to fulfil consumers’ high expectations in this fast and frugal omni-channel age. Brands that can stay on the cutting edge of technology such as mobility, geo-targetting, smart devices for payments, augmented reality and many more are likely to emerge victorious.

While every retailer will bring a distinct omni-channel customer experience strategy to the table, brands will have to strive to provide a seamless, noteworthy customer experience across channels to meet consumer expectations.