Omnichannel is everywhere, but the payoff is not for everyone

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Omnichannel Commerce has been guiding strategies and investments in the retail industry since 2010. In its simplest form, a successful omnichannel strategy aims to serve consumers across multiple channels and deliver an experience that blends the best of each world.

The industry has seen traditional retailers and brands make significant investments in their online presence, sometimes through the acquisition of digitally native companies, other times through multi-year investments. The industry has also seen some digitally native businesses move into the physical store space to increase their profits.

In most cases, the consumer experience is drastically different across the physical and digital worlds, resulting in disappointing experiences: stockouts, missed orders, price differences, disparate customer service and more. A business can sell products and services on both channels, but that doesn’t necessarily result in a seamless consumer experience.

This difference in the consumer experience across channels reflects the current focus on expanding channels, but not on a clear consumer-centric strategy. A few of the areas where discrepancies are most noticeable include inventory planning and pricing:

  • Inventory Planning: Historically, store-based planning systems were optimized for a single channel. These systems were based on demand signals that oftentimes took weeks or months to be translated into inventory positions across that company’s network. Digitally native companies, however, have developed strong, direct links between demand signals and inventory planning, thus quickly translating signals into action multiple times a day. Merging these two channels together and operating on a single inventory planning system will maximize inventory productivity and unlock significant value to any retailer.
  • Pricing: In e-commerce, prices are easily changed. The ability to micro-target or adapt prices to a single consumer allows retailers to extract significant value. Similar strategies, however, are more challenging in the physical store environment. Oftentimes, retailers will have to maintain parallel pricing strategies between their digital and physical stores. They often create price matching policies to reassure consumers they are getting the best price available. A retailer’s ability to leverage their digital apps, location services and analytics creates opportunities to deploy smarter, consumer-focused pricing in the offline world.

Retailers that have successfully implemented omnichannel experiences have been able to leverage their position and capabilities in either the traditional physical retail or digital worlds, and transpose them into the new channel offering.

Successful omnichannel retailers will tackle key elements of the consumer journey (from discovery to checkout) by looking at the consumer holistically and not as a persona tied to a specific channel. They will develop integrated solutions that find an expression in the digital and physical worlds, ensuring a seamless experience for their consumers. The result is a satisfied and loyal consumer that spends more than the average, engaged associates and a virtuous ecosystem that leverages the power of physical and digital commerce.

Consumers’ needs will continue to evolve, and a retailer’s ability to successfully cater to those needs will rely on agile and modularized solutions that can respond to these evolving needs in a timely manner. Monolithic solutions will struggle to respond at the right pace and drive consumer satisfaction, given their dependency on foundational and legacy systems to operate at pace.

The TechTorch platform enables a successful process by providing prepackaged, curated and battle-tested use cases that can be adapted very simply to a specific business’ needs. The platform also provides you with the environment to quickly deploy and test different use case configurations.

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