The Omni-Channel Retail Shopping Experience

According to the Retail Info System News’ Omnichannel Rediness October 8, 2013 report, the retailers that deliver the best omni-channel experience – like Apple, Nordstrom and Macy – “enable a seamless shopping experience across channels by integrating services, technologies and processes.” The report goes on to share:

  • Survey respondents say they’re missing out on 6.5% of revenue as a result of not being an omnichannel retailer — which translates to $65 billion being left on the table
  • Retailers’ top priority for the next 12 months is shifting to a single transaction platform that unifies POS, e-commerce and m-commerce, with 65.4% planning such an investment
  • The current lack of a true omnichannel transaction platform available on the market today is driving 53.8% of retailers to rely on a hybrid of many channel-specific platforms linked together

Wait… back-up… What is omni-channel retail?  Omni-Channel Retailing refers to a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels – mobile internet devices, computers, bricks-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalog, etc.

According to Retail System Research, The omni-channel consumer wants to use all channels simultaneously, and retailers using an omni-channel approach will track customers across all channels:

  • All shopping channels work from the same database of products, prices, promotions, etc.
  • Instead of perceiving a variety of touch-points as part of the same brand, omni-channel retailers let consumers experience the brand, not a channel within a brand.
  • Merchandise and promotions are not channel specific, but rather consistent across all retail channels.

OK, I get that… but how did we get to “Omni” Channels?

Single Channel – is exactly the way it sounds – one channel. You have a store or an ecommerce website and no other channel to purchase your products and/or services

Multi-Channel – is having more than one channel to purchase your offering – catalogues, stores, websites, etc. But they are usually a “disconnected shopping experience” with  different offering, different prices, inconsistent brand, etc. Unless they are cross-channel…

Cross-Channel – is a multi-channel shopping experience where the brand is consistence across all the channels as you move from the catalogue to the website and/or store or other devices.

Omni-Channel – is single view of your customers across all channel – regardless of channels. The channel is invisible. Everything works from a common interconnected database of information about the customers, products, etc. The retailer is organized around the customer – they are customer-centric.

In an omni-channel shopping experience, the brand, offerings, prices, etc. are consistent regardless if I am at my home computer, in the store or on my mobile device. In fact, if I am on my mobile device in the store – it knows and helps me find what I am looking for.

As we design experience in this omni-world, we need to consider a seamless experience across all interactions.