Today's customer is changed and expect an integrated experience of shopping where they combine different channels according to their preferences and omni-channel is a way for retailers to meet this need.
As we know, advantages related to online sales includes price transparency at a minute level, the availability of reviews and an unlimited access to the product categories while in offline retailing the benefits are in the form of face-to-face interaction, instant gratification, and a hands-on product experience.
Factors governing omnichannel retail experiences
Omni-channel retailing is closely driven by technology and the technology advances it allows better integration of the retail channels. Customers have changed their shopping patterns as a result of their changed use of technology, in combination with the increased availability of e-commerce. Particularly, smartphones and tablets are central to this new way of shopping and therefore the retailers have had to take these technologies into account while designing their new strategies.
2. Evolving Customer Buying Patterns
The millennials of today have the ability to stay constantly connected to the global marketplace via multiple devices which empower them to have an access to easy price comparisons and product information. Therefore, they are becoming increasingly demanding and expect to have a wide product selection available at all times. This has contributed to changing the way they search for information and thereby directly affecting the buying process that they try to engage in. It has given rise to the combination of various channels and approaches like searching online to buy offline, searching offline to buy online and everything in between with options related to customization and convenience from their shopping experiences.
To suffice above statement, the concept of ‘webrooming’ can be considered as a classic example. This concept refers to the customer who researches the products online before visiting the store to buy the product. For example, how 'Costco' increased its physical store traffic by making information on store location and in-store inventory availability accessible from the website. The improved accuracy of the online information allows the customer to thoroughly research the product from home and then visit the physical store to evaluate the non-digital components of the product and, if satisfied, buy the product in-store.
3. Customer centricity
According to researcher J. R. Galbraith, in his book Designing the customer-centric organization: A guide to strategy, structure, and process. (2005, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass)
“Today, nobody owns the customer. The customer owns you”. This statement illustrates the reality for most retailers today and there is little doubt that the customer is becoming increasingly influential on the activities of companies, which are consequently becoming more and more customer-centric. Customer centricity is a strong driver of omnichannel efforts as the retailers choose to implement an omnichannel strategy with the aim to provide the customer with a seamlessly integrated shopping experience. The term customer centricity is about creating value for your customer rather than how to sell your products, which is the case in a product-centric organization where all organizational activities are organized around the product of the company.
In a customer-centric organization, the firm must “literally organize around the customer” and have the ability to conduct business according to the preferences and wishes of the customers in order to build a relationship. Galbraith means that this requires a close collaboration and interaction with the customers across all contact points and to then use the results of these integrative activities to reach consistency in the eyes of the customer.
Several researchers agree on the fact that companies will have a hard time to survive in the twenty-first century unless they move in this direction of customer centricity since it is the key to achieving sustainable and long-term growth, profitability and customer loyalty. Moreover, organizations should be willing to invest in business models that are value adding for the customers since these are in general difficult for competitors to imitate. For this, a right selection of retail IT solutions provider has to be considered from the beginning. To know more click here
Apparently, it has been found, an online channel can complement and supplement to the offline channel, and vice versa. This has led several retail professionals to claim that deep level integration of the retail channels creates multiple types of synergies which are mostly symbiotically in nature. This is something that many customers place great value on and hence, a successfully implemented omni-channel strategy with total integration has the potential to greatly enhance the customer shopping experience.