The importance of omni-channel management in retail

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Retailers are no longer in control of the path consumers take to purchase products. For millennials and digital savants, the days of brick-and-mortar window shopping and impulse buying are eclipsing. The typical path to purchase these days crisscrosses the various paths of digital, mobile, and physical touchpoints.

No matter what path your customers take, you know that it is essential to keep the entire shopping experience consistent. A recent Forrester study found that  71% of customers react negatively to inconsistencies, some to the point where they would never shop there again, either in-person or online. In addition, since actionable data can mean the difference between a business succeeding or failing, the importance of providing complete visibility through every stage of the buying process cannot be overlooked. This is where omni-channel retail management becomes vital for a retailer’s success.

What is omni-channel retail management?

Omni-channel retail management means breaking down the siloed walls found in the multi-channel experience that most retailers employ. This is necessary on two fronts. For starters, to provide the customer or end user a consistent retail experience, no matter where they access the retailer—physical store, website, or mobile app. Secondly, it’s important to provide the retailer with a number of highly actionable data points to optimize sale opportunities.

While the omni-channel comprises physical locations, mobile apps, mobile search, desktop websites, e-commerce platforms, and Point of Sale (POS) solutions, it’s common for retailers to use completely disparate solutions to manage each of these touchpoints. By using separate solutions, the entire omni-channel idea becomes moot. In particular, the separate solutions tear down any attempt at sales experience consistency.

Omni-channel creates consistency

The modern consumer now commonly incorporates multiple touchpoints into their purchasing process. For example, if product details are only available online but not on the mobile app, or if a discount is only available in stores but nowhere else, the retailer risks consumers moving to a competitor that has a more consistent experience. This is particularly noticeable when retailers use disparate systems to manage multiple touchpoints, such as a separate system for a mobile loyalty app, a separate e-commerce site system, and yet another system for POS. The only way to guarantee a seamless experience across all touchpoints is by using ONE omni-channel system that manages all of them in one place.

Fulfillment flexibility

Today’s consumers don’t only want fulfillment choices, they also want those choices to be fast. Whether offering in-store pickup or same-day shipping, retailers need to be prepared to provide a means for their customers to receive their purchases in a timely fashion that works for them. As such, retailers need to employ order fulfillment solutions that provide both real-time inventory checks and on-hand stock validation for brick and mortar locations.

By using an omni-channel management system, and truly using it as one consolidated system, retailers are able to control the buyer’s shopping process across all touchpoints. For example, a potential customer completes a web search for a product and purchases it from a retailer’s e-commerce site. The omni-channel solution knows, in real time, that a local store has inventory on hand and offers same-day pickup in lieu of delivery. E-commerce may have changed the way people shop, but it hasn’t changed the fact that most people prefer to have their purchases as soon as possible. Therefore, the customer can see right away a faster option to receive their items.

If the customer chooses the in-store pickup option, the sales associates at the physical store will receive a notification of the order via their POS. Once the sales associate completes the order and has it ready for the customer, the POS will send an email or mobile app notification to the customer that their order is ready. The customer can then show this email or app notification to the sales associates to prove their identity and securely pick up their order.

The only way to guarantee this retail experience

A unified commerce solution such as LS Central helps retailers create this single, consistent shopping experience across all channels. True omni-channel retail management is the only way to keep your retail business completely visible to the consumer instead of showing them slices at a time. Instead of using multiple software solutions that only show pieces or even different versions of your brand’s story, show the complete story all at once with one software to rule them all.

Contact our software experts today to learn how LS Central can consolidate your retail business into the shopping experience modern customers expect as well as demand.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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