Why Omni-channel Retail is the Key to Success this Festive Season
Retailers up and down the country will have their eyes on one thing as the busy festive seasons approaches: driving profits. UK shoppers spent in excess of £3 billion over the Black Friday weekend alone last year and the industry will be hoping for more of the same in 2016. But how will they get there? The answer, in part, is through an omni-channel retailing approach which creates a seamless shopping experience across physical and online stores – at once maximising sales and customer engagement.
But to make this a reality, retailers need the right technology platforms to hand, allowing customers to browse and buy online while in-store and pay with their smartphones.
An omni-channel Christmas
omni-channel has gone from an industry buzzword a few years ago to a reality today. It’s the logical evolution of a customer-centric strategy, prioritising a consistent, seamless experience across channels as the way to differentiate. Retailers must accept that consumers are savvy enough to research prices and products online before coming in-store, or else try out products in the bricks and mortar world before buying online.
It’s essential that supply chains, back-end processes and data streams are aligned to make omni-channel a reality. If a customer that has bought online finds their item is not ready for collection at their local store, or that the information they researched about another product turns out to be inaccurate, they’ll simply vote with their feet. And there are plenty of competitors out there doing omni-channel well for them to try instead.
Why is omni-channel important? Because if done correctly, it mitigates two of the biggest reasons shoppers walk out of a store without buying anything: inadequate product selection and items out-of-stock. On average that equates to £110,864 lost for each high street store in the UK, according to retail staff Miura interviewed for a report released earlier this year.
That report also revealed three-quarters of staff believe shoppers are more demanding than they used to be. Armed with their smartphones, they expect staff to know their shopping history and preferences, and to furnish them with information and recommendations on products when asked. It’s the omni-channel way, and one which retailers must grow accustomed to.
Although back-end processes and supply chains are vital to the smooth running of an omni-channel retail environment, so too are the technology platforms you have on the shop floor.
When asked what they would do if they were CEO, 70% of retail staff we spoke to said they’d roll out new technologies more quickly, providing colleagues with the likes of:
- Stock information
- Alternative products online
- Loyalty discounts and offers
- ‘Clienteling’ applications which help staff build long-term relationships with customers based on their preferences
omni-channel is central to the Miura Systems philosophy. Our range of mPOS and integrated Point of Sale platforms offer retailers the opportunity to accept payments anywhere in store, wherever the customer is, by card or simply the tap of an Android/Apple device. What’s more, products like the POSzle offer the opportunity for staff to roam the store with internet-connected tablets. The value of this is in helping them answer customer queries on the spot and even order out of stock items there and then.
It’s all about boosting that customer engagement through a seamless shopping experience, and minimising the chances of anyone walking out of your store without buying. Given the challenges awaiting Brexit Britain, omni-channel has come not a moment too soon.