Omnichannel Retail – Is it still a hype, or has it become reality?
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”.
“Omnichannel is Back” – Forbes
Omnichannel is back
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.
Think big, start smart
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 to enable the continuous adoption of new services. A lean implementation approach could look like this:
- Select a use case that promises to have the most significant impact to make customers happy
- Implement the necessary tools that help offering the selected service, without replacing the existing systems
- Measure the impact of the new service, fine-tune based on the feedback and adapt it to the business
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.
“Product availability is king.” – Jon Wright, River Island
Product availability is king
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 color 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.
There is no doubt that omnichannel is becoming a reality. The number of omnichannel services that are offered to customers in the retail world is ever-growing. At the same time, the expectation of shoppers is steadily growing. Since stock accuracy is a foundation to offer excellent customer services, a growing number of retailers adopt RFID because the technology makes it possible to automate stock management resulting in optimal merchandise availability. Finally, any implementation of a new omnichannel has one common goal: Let’s make customers happy!