Omnichannel is more than just integrating mobile, brick-and-mortar and Internet
Omnichannel is a buzzword that gets a lot of discussion among retail thought leaders and business owners nowadays. Whether merchants are talking about omnichannel at conventions or internally as a part of their plan to improve the customer experience, everyone seems to realize the importance of taking this approach to eCommerce operations.
However, it's critical that you understand the full breadth of what omnichannel entails. Many retailers believe it's the simple integration of mobile, brick-and-mortar and Internet operations all under one roof.
However, a successful omnichannel approach to operations is much more involved. It's about offering the ultimate flexibility to customers and letting them shop in the most convenient way possible. While extending your retail offerings to multiple platforms is a great start, it's only the first step in the process.
Customers want a seamless, consistent shopping experience, that much should be obvious. In fact, one recent study from Exolevel showed approximately half of customers (49 percent) believe the best thing that retailers can do is integrating the in-store, online and mobile shopping components of their business, and 89 percent said it's critical that merchants let them chose how they want to shop.
However, what may escape you is how the omnichannel shopping experience extends beyond the storefront and to the behind-the-scenes eCommerce operations. It's more than just offering a website, app and physical store to customers.
Take, for instance, omnichannel fulfillment. A consumer may want to make a purchase online, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they want the item shipped to them. Instead, they may want to pick it up in-store later that day when they are out doing other errands because that is what's convenient for them. You need to offer them that flexibility, as it is what creating an omnichannel experience is all about.
Granted, taking this approach to creating an omnichannel shopping experience isn't an easy one. Allowing customers to buy from one channel and then fulfill orders from another is a complex task, and you need the right eCommerce solution, such as SalesWarp, in place to execute on this properly. In that instance, you need a platform that integrates inventory levels across channels and allows for streamlined order management so you can ensure the item is ready to be picked up when customers visit their local stores.
Omnichannel order fulfillment is only one example of this behind the scenes action. Everything from marketing to customer service must be integrated in such a manner to ensure a satisfactory experience.
"From an operational perspective, omnichannel retailing means breaking down the barriers and offering functionalities that reach across channels, including order capture, fulfillment, sharing of inventory and using customer data from all channels to market to and serve the customer," a recent whitepaper from FitForCommerce explains.
With that being said, it is incredibly important to nail the front end aspects as well. Having a well-designed website and mobile application and convenient brick-and-mortar operation in place is all critical to ensuring an enjoyable shopping experience. But to truly deliver on the omnichannel promise, you need to extend beyond these front end elements and integrate all of these different operational components.
Operating on this level is extremely complex and may initially be challenging, especially if you're already accustomed to only operating an omnichannel business on the front end. However, eCommerce platforms such as SalesWarp can help you integrate everything from order management to inventory across these channels in a seamless fashion.