The shopping journey has become more complex than ever before with the rise of e-commerce and the proliferation of mobile technology in our lives. Shoppers are engaging with your brand across a myriad of devices, platforms, and channels. If the omni-channel experience is broken, your customers will see a fractured reflection of your retail brand.
That’s why it is so important to create a cohesive experience that carries your brand’s most important values and attributes through every step of the path to purchase.
What is the Omni-Channel Experience?
When a retailer is providing an exceptional omni-channel experience, they are effectively making sure that their brand is reaching customers in a cohesive way, on every platform, channel, and device they access. The omni-channel experience is about more than just having a website, blog, and active social media accounts. It’s about being able to reach prospects the way they’re reaching you. After all, in this age of the customer, if you can’t give the customer what they want when they want it, they’re probably going somewhere else.
With an effective omni-channel experience, the retailer is accounting for the numerous ways a customer might want to connect with the company, and working to deliver a seamlessly integrated experience.
Consider the Audience
One of the best perspectives to take when orchestrating an omni-channel experience is the customer’s experience. What does the customer want? In a retail setting, connected customers want seamless shopping experiences. They want to be able to buy online and pick up in store. They want to order in store and have the item shipped to them at home.
Building a seamless omni-channel experience means accurately predicting what the customer wants and needs and then discovering ways to make that a reality.
What Should a Great Retail Omni-Channel Experience Include?
With a great omni-channel experience, customers can move fluidly from one channel to the next. But omni-channel is NOT the same as multi-channel. In a multi-channel environment, a retailer might operate across multiple channels, but they aren’t connected. Retailers may end up performing costly duplicate and manual work to keep up the appearance of a unified experience. In order to put your brand’s best face forward, you need the right tools to create a truly unified omni-channel experience.
There are some common challenges that come with creating a great retail omni-channel experience. One of the most common challenges is inconsistency. Customers expect a unified message across all channels, and they are blind to the challenges that you may face on the back end to deliver a seamless experience. Whether they shop in-store or online, they see your brand as one.
The Right Tools for an Exceptional Omni-Channel Experience
One of the key components that makes great omni-channel retail a reality is an omni-channel order management system that allows retailers to manage and fulfill orders to and from any channel.
A unified order management system, or OMS, is what makes “buy online pick up in store”, or BOPIS, possible. Retailers can also use OMS to automate fulfillment of web orders, selecting the most cost-effective place to ship from. Sometimes that means shipping from a warehouse, whereas other times, it may mean shipping from a local store or a store that has excess inventory on hand.
An effective unified order management system takes into account all order portals into one platform. For instance, this system should integrate B2B and D2C websites, brick and mortar stores, online marketplaces, and more.
A modern order management system will also offer built-in reporting and analytics, helping you make the best decisions possible while reducing costs. Other features to look for include intelligent fulfillment, efficient order orchestration, integrated returns management, and inventory ATP.
The right tools will empower you to create better customer experiences, which ultimately leads to better revenues, lower costs, and growth for your retail company.
The Bottom Line
In a world where retailers vie for sales in the digital ecosystem, no stone can be left unturned in offering the best customer experience possible. When an integrated and truly omni-channel experience is created, customers are swept seamlessly from prospect to convert with the ease and convenience of their favorite platforms and devices.
Omni-channel retailing is the new standard, and for a retailer to provide an amazing experience, they must deliver a holistic omni-channel experience that draws customers in, keeps them engaged, and helps them make a purchase with ease.