The increase in smartphone use and shopper's perpetual connection to the internet has modified the buying process into a streamlined digital function. Shoppers want a complete shopping experience that incorporates price comparison, couponing, one-touch purchasing, and promotions into an easy to use application accessible from anywhere. To remain competitive and meet buyer demand, retailers must adopt an Omni-channel strategy using integrated loyalty, couponing, point-of-sale and ecommerce platforms to give consumers the guest experience they crave. This emergent method for customer engagement within the retail industry builds on the multi-channel brand strategy by focusing on all possible avenues of customer interaction including in-store, brick-to-click, ecommerce, device-to-web, and mobile ecommerce.
For software providers, this shift in the way retailers target consumers represents an interesting challenge. Many retailers operate under a multi-channel strategy, where each element is broken into separate channels that function independently. Therefore, the software provider who can create a solution that easily adapts to the needs of the retailer while incorporating the various platforms necessary to successfully engage customers across all channels will dominate the market for this trend. Standard platforms may lend a hand to a multi-channel strategy that offer brick and mortar retailers an e-commerce presence, but the key is how every channel is integrated together, then tied back to enhance the brand function and consumer experience.
The Key Elements for Omni-Channel Software Platforms
There are several important components to creating a successful omni-channel platform. Chief among these is the data aggregation module that ties online, offline, internal and external data together into a single view. This centralized data repository gives retailers actionable resources and allows for the migration of data across multiple channels. This business intelligence aspect allows merchants to create detailed reports pull from all channels to give a more accurate picture of brand success. Another vital aspect of any omni-channel application is the content management plug-in, as this element provides retailers with the ability to update content across all channels at one time rather than augmenting the channels individually.
In addition to business intelligence and content management modules, a solid omni-channel retail platform integrates inventory management into the application to ensure real-time accuracy of available stock items. These aspects of the application can utilize traditional input methods for inventory control, or can integrate radio-frequency identification tags (RFID), QR codes, and barcodes to provide automated stock management. The platform should also incorporate point of sale and order management to streamline the order creation and fulfillment needs.
The final element to the omni-channel retailing platform is, of course, the customer facing elements that will bring the total brand experience together for the customer including couponing, loyalty, price comparison and promotions. These CRM applications, when tied with the content management software and data aggregation aspects, can provide users with targeted content based on how the customer interacts with the store. Some retailers have extended this to brick-and-mortar stores using geo-fencing software that sends push notifications to shoppers near the store who have installed the company application on their mobile device.
With stores like Target, Walmart, Sears, and Macy's leading the charge in adopting omni-channel customer engagement strategies, it is likely that other merchants will follow suit to avoid losing market share. Innovative platforms that bring merchandising, branding, customer engagement, order fulfillment, and purchasing into a single user-friendly application will allow merchants of every size to incorporate omni-channel retailing into their business strategy more easily. It is up to software providers to develop comprehensive software solutions that are tailored to meet the needs of retailers in the latest evolution of customer engagement methods.
Chetu does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of a specific software, company or individual does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.
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