While the debates about retail apocalypse and the demise of physical retail continue, one thing is for sure, these are merely exaggerations based on certain instances, as the big picture depicts otherwise. At this juncture there is one truth only – retail as a business is being re-imagined, re-invented and re-engineered and this is happening because of technology.
Technology has been the principal driver and the enabler of the retail revolution process, leading to the modern day retail scenario where omni-channel is the new norm. All this has been possible because technology has found its place in almost every aspect of retail – right from production to supply-chain to distribution to sales to post sales services. Moreover, it has also influenced various stages of the customer journey, consequentially leading to changes in consumers’ behavior and preferences.
Omni-channel is the offspring of technology. Omni channel thrives on technology and this is one of the major reasons why, from being a mere buzzword about a decade ago, today it has become the ‘way of life’ for retail businesses and brands. Omni-channel fundamentally offers 5 highly desired abilities – reach, convenience, speed, collaboration and unified commerce. And in-turn these abilities are the basic benefits of going omni-channel.
In order to be omni-channel ready, retail businesses must use multiple retail touch-points to interact and service their customers. Subsequently, adding more channels expands the horizon of the retail businesses and enables them to reach more customers, while customers on the other hand can reach and interact with their brands through multiple touch-points. With more than one channel to shop from, customers can use different channels during their shopping journey at their own convenience, and as for retailers, they can easily make use of the different channels to influence their consumers along the shopping process. Omni-channel also enables retail brands with speedy access to information related to inventory and customers as well as helps retailers to service customers faster, while customers can receive quick gratification of their purchases or move through the shopping process faster by switching between channels. Omni-channel essentially necessitates the integration of multiple channels, systems and processes, thus facilitating them to work in collaboration, in a way that enables unified commerce. This makes it possible for retailers to have a single version of the truth about their customer and inventory information across the business and also supports them to provide a seamless and unified experience to their customers.
While omni-channel is necessary, it has potentials that can really do wonders to the retail business and retailers must try to capitalize on this. Employing the right omni-channel retail software will help retailers become truly and holistically omni-channel and thereafter reap its benefits big time.