Technology is not just the enabler of new experiences in the digital era, but a bridge of seamless integrations that enhance customer experience. Retailers earlier relied on multiple channels of engagement with customers that worked independently of each other. Typically, brands that were available online as well as in-store treated each channel as separate. Online purchases of a product could only be dealt through online interactions, while in-store purchases had nothing to do with online interactions. This multichannel engagement deprived customers of the advantage
of dealing with a brand that was available in different channels.
Omnichannel has transformed the customer experience, by offering a unified experience to customers. For instance, the Starbucks Rewards App has redefined the way customers use loyalty programs; the rewards card can be used on any channel—phone, website, store, or app . This has effectively helped customers enjoy rewards redemption, a huge change from earlier redemption options, where retailers used disconnected and independently working methods which negatively impacted the user experience.
The biggest advantage of omnichannel—consistent customer experience
Customer experience is a vital differentiator for businesses. Almost nine out of ten companies expect to compete with each other on the basis of customer experience . Technology disruptions has enabled customer experience has to evolve from a single channel, to multi-channel, cross channel, and finally omnichannel.
Omnichannel, enabled with automation, analytics and the cloud brings a wide range of exciting possibilities. A combination of automation and analytics helps retailers to identify customers as they walk into stores, understand the shopping behaviour of customers and their preferences, in addition to ensuring visibility at all times.
Prior to omnichannel, retailers engaged customers through a single interface. For instance, shoppers used to make online purchases and use online channels to redeem points, offer feedback, seek replacement or return a product. Similarly, a customer who purchased a product from stores had to interact with the store for anything related to the specific purchase. This effectively made engagement a point-to-point interface, despite the fact that the retailer was available in many channels. Customers, who chose different options when purchasing products at different times, were treated like new relationships.
Omnichannel has changed all of this. Retailers presently have multiple touchpoints, and omnichannel allows for integration in a single unified platform. POS, call centres, online orders, social media engagement, virtual malls and convenient payment gateways are seamlessly integrated with the behind the scenes operations such as order management, product lifecycle management, marketing automation, analytics, CX management, branding, and merchandising.
The resulting advantages are numerous. Customers can easily discover other products of interest in the context of purchases made and enjoy multiple options. Most importantly, it engages customers at the right time and place in the most effective manner—creating a strong buying desire.
Omnichannel interactions—vital to the retail industry
The single biggest change in retail has been the interactive nature of engagement. A shopper making a purchase in a retail outlet browses for the product online before making a buying decision. In other words, shoppers use multiple touchpoints when making a purchase. Studies reveal that 63% of shoppers use multiple channels when placing orders worth £100 or more . A customer who has been engaged effectively through different channels—call centre, simplified loyalty points redemption, or special offers—is more likely to remain with a brand/store/service.
The future of retail is exciting, with technology promising to disrupt the sector further. For instance, augmented reality will help create intelligent product displays/visuals, while payment options will be faster and convenient. Shoppers no longer will be required to make arrangements for the products to be received at home, with smart boxes and in-store pickups offering alternate options for customers.
Similarly, automated updates of stock availability are another of the many options that technology has lined up. For instance, a shopper may have loved a particular brand, design and colour of apparel but the store may not have stocks of the right size. The shopper will not have to spend time returning to the store to check for availability, but will receive an update the moment the stock arrives, based on his/her request. The customer places an order online, walks into the store, where the product is ready for the customer, with simplified payments from mobile devices. Not only does this do away with time-consuming cash transactions, it offers the customer the options of using discount vouchers, and redeeming credit card points/loyalty points. The whole process offers customers a highly personalized and convenient service that specifically caters to requirements.
The change to omnichannel has helped retailers use a unified platform to connect with shoppers in a manner that keeps every interaction interconnected. The result: happier customers and increased revenues.
3i Infotech continues to deliver progressive, versatile solutions for retail that are in sync with fast-paced developments in the industry. Future-ready solutions packed with features offer customers modern, practical and convenient solutions. From real-time inventory information, personalized service, and multiple self-service options, to compatibility with different platforms and devices, the solution has all that it takes to offer a truly omnichannel experience. Highly secure payment gateways, advanced back end workflows, and a whole range of tools help customize modules for superior results.