Challenges of Omni-Channel Retail

Customer expectations are continually increasing as consumers get more experience and much more important more acquaintance to services such as free accelerated supply or capabilities e.g. availability in a local store (next to my current location or to my hometown address) reserve online and option to pick it up in my local store or the store of my next trip.
Features and services that looked as if it was game-changing yesterday are quickly becoming the commonplace as consumers expect these raised standards of service.
Retailers must constantly prove, reconsider and update their omni-channel strategy to innovate and make their mark with in customer experience, rather than constantly trying to catch up with what their more agile competitors have already done.

In few previous articles I wrote a lot about the consumer facing issues and aspect – But if we talk nowadays about retail in the omni-channel-commerce world, all what you do is like a castle in the air if it is not based on a solid foundation of a reliable IT backbone especially if the data traffic is extreme.

I like to mention two basic challenges:

  • Strengthening the IT infrastructure
  • Think out of the ‘department box’ - cross-company thinking

Technology investment is critical to qualifying effective and powerful omni-channel customer experience
Retailers have to provide reliable and synchronized services across all touch points. They also have to embrace new features and tools that enable these higher levels of services- e.g. showing the online and in-store availability on every touch point, giving the local sales associate the knowledge about the buyer in front of him, sales history, preferences, current inquiries, wishlist, and enabling the brick-and-mortar store to act as a local fulfillment center with pick, pack, and ship capabilities.

New labels alone won’t cut it — there is more to do in order to breathe life into the idea of omni-channel - retailers must eliminate siloed channel strategies thinking.
Regardless of who is responsible for omni-channel at the end of the day, aligning the efforts isn’t enough, it has to be a smartly worked out how the touchpoints are meshed and how they complement each other. It’s more or less necessary to join the organizations, and technology to ensure an overall view and end-to-end understanding of the customer’s needs rather than the needs of antiquated channel structures.

Just a few numbers of an commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Accenture and Hybris, November 2013 …