Think Big, Start Smart
Omnichannel retail – is it still a hype, or has it become reality?
By Tom Vieweger
By Tom Vieweger
Two weeks ago, the NRF Big Show took place in New York, and it’s just another two weeks from now until its European pendant EuroShop will open its doors. Both events can be considered as lighthouses in terms of showing the direction of retail innovations. So, I thought it is a great moment to dive a little bit deeper into the “talk of the town” and see what happened to the “omnichannel hype”.
As Forbes stated in their report after NRF: “omnichannel is back”. But, in fact, I think that it had never been away. Actually, I heard many retailers say that the word “omnichannel” was something like a trigger for them to think about new concepts for their stores.
After an intense period of testing and experimenting, it now comes to various implementations. However, omnichannel is not just adding more technology – it’s about helping stores to give customers the best possible experience.
Currently, retailers are in the process of introducing new omnichannel services step by step. It has proven successful that an iterative approach allows starting small, to learn and enabling the continuous adoption of new services. A lean implementation approach could look like this:
A learning from many of such “lean implementation approaches” has been, that it is necessary to ensure that the “data foundation” is accurate. Stock accuracy is crucial to provide successful omnichannel services and to make merchandise available to customers.
Customers want to buy what they want to buy – and not something else. Instantly, and not later. Therefore making sure that a product is available in the right size and the right colour is crucial.
However, merchandise availability should not result in overstocked stores and the associated high capital cost. RFID technology makes it possible to automate in-store stock management – resulting in optimal merchandise availability, which contributes to a strong brand value. Because once a retailer has full inventory control, services like Ship-from-Store and Click & Collect are no longer complex and cost-adding services, but services with a positive impact on the customer experience.
Product availability is kingJon Wright - River Island
Exchanging stock-relevant business data amongst brands, retailers, and other partners can easily and trustfully provide deep insights into the provenance, the location, and the status of products. The use of standards for identification (GTIN / SGTIN) and communication (EPCIS) is essential for successful collaboration. These standards guarantee efficient, cross-company communication and enable them to integrate their data with speed and ease. By exchanging information from the brand's EPCIS with the retailer's EPCIS, relevant stock data along the supply chain can be digitally exchanged and ensure more transparency and trust in cooperation.