Although online shopping meets certain needs, a brand’s physical outlets serve a different purpose. A store is somewhere for consumers to have a conversation about a product line. Yet more importantly it’s also an expedient location to easily return an unwanted item or resolve an issue immediately – a level of convenience that simply cannot be found online. Rather than competing against one another, the two sales channels are symbiotic.
If a consumer wants to browse and view a product they’re interested in via the online store on their laptop, buy it using their smartphone, have it delivered to their home, then decide to return it by visiting their local store, they should be able to. If nothing else, omnichannel is about creating parity between the online and in-store shopping experience, and it has never been more important than it is now.
As a concept, this is nothing new. However, many retailers have been looking at omnichannel in the wrong way and are still considering their different sales channels (including online and in-store) as separate entities rather than a single unified representation of their brand. This has been a fundamental barrier to creating a consistent and joined up omnichannel effort that truly delivers on modern consumer expectations for convenience. The adage goes “the customer is always right,” but retailers are not adhering to this if their customers are demanding fluidity between in-store and online shopping yet being denied that very privilege.
Ultimately, omnichannel is about viewing all elements of the customer journey not in isolation, but as part of a greater whole. Disparate online, in-store, marketing, PR and supply chain strategies should be consigned to the bin and energies should instead be used to create an omnichannel strategy that doesn’t connect the dots as an afterthought. Omnichannel is here to stay and retailers will find even more success as they continue to master their strategy and remain competitive.
Astound Commerce and Rackspace collaborated on a whitepaper to discuss how retailers can best utilise an omnichannel approach. This whitepaper was based on the first-hand experiences of senior ecommerce experts from leading retailers, who gathered at an exclusive event in Munich.