Pure-, cross-, multi- or omni-channel retailing...Retailers tend to get lost in their own buzz words and to lose sight of the most important aspect: What do customers actually want?
One of the special charms about the lagoon city of Venice is its many channels, or canals, both small and big. Innumerable bridges connect them to an open labyrinth of water as well as traditional streets.
With so many different shopping channels available to today’s consumer, it’s easy to see why Venice is the perfect metaphor for the idea of omni-channel retailing.
The ability to shop anywhere at any time is the raison d’être of omni-channel retailing. The right assortment, and the best product availability, with seamless service and an emotional brand image sum up the perfect customer journey. The shopper can choose between a variety of channels: the flagship store in the High Street, the web shop, mobile shopping, or the endless shelf provided by an online kiosk in the store. Unfortunately the omni-channel promise often develops into a big omni-channel challenge. Not only for the retailer, but also for the customer too…
Let’s assume a female customer buys a summer skirt using her mobile. Two days later the garment gets delivered. Alas, it’s too small, so the woman wants to return the skirt to the closest store. The return turns out to be quite complicated: she cannot even check online if the skirt will be available in that particular store in size M, even though the brand promotes click-and-collect as one of their services.
When retailers display the real-time inventory at each of their stores through their web shop, customers can rely on the information given and will not be disappointed when they get to the store. This stock transparency can be given accurately by fixed readers hidden in the store’s ceiling. This fixed reader infrastructure counts every article and registers product movements throughout the different zones of the store – without manual scanning.
And what’s in it for the shopper? Products which are constantly available and visible on the shop floor, thanks to automatic replenishment, making shoppers really trust the brand. They might also benefit from a cross-channel
service when entering the fitting room: the same reading system can show accessories on a screen, or interactive mirror, as recommendations that “other clients were also interested in these products”. It’s the classic web recommendation feature, that can also help with cross-selling opportunities in stores too.
And what’s in it for the retailer? Retailers will profit from insights into conversion rate, such as how many products make it from the fitting room to the check-out. They’ll learn more about customer preferences and buying habits – and, ultimately, how to drive more sales.