Shopping Experience

Take a trip through the Channels: Single, Multi, Cross and Omni

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Patricia May blog

Starting at the Single Channel, there was a one-to-one relationship between consumers and retail stores (or catalogues).   Next stop is Multi-Channel, when retailers added new ways of interaction with consumers, the most exciting and interactive being e- and m-commerce.  These new channels were typically started and managed as separate organizations, leveraging with new tools and processes.  And channel interactions with consumers were likewise treated as individual touch points, often causing confusion and less-than-pleasant shopping experiences.   Consumers desire for a consistency from retailers, along with the consumerization of technology, is driving change in the industry.  In fact, consumers are already using technology for shopping, and expecting even more innovation from today’s retailers.

The journey to Cross-Channel, on which many of the retailers I meet today are traveling, means connecting multiple channels so consumers see them as part of a single retail brand.  They’re also navigating how to connect information and functional silos.  Specifically, customer data from across all touch-points so there is greater insight into patterns, preferences and behaviors so interactions can be personalized and in context to the consumers needs, and sales inventory information so orders can be flexibly placed, changed, tracked and fulfilled.

The last stop, Omni-Channel, is a Nirvana where consumers experience a brand, not a channel within a brand, and retailers have a single view of the all information that the entire organization uses to operate strategically.  It involves changing people, processes and technologies.

Given that global online sales expected to grow by 184% in 2019 and store sales are forecast at 38% growth, smart retailers are taking the fastest route to Omni-Channel.   That’s why strong leadership is needed to foster a one-brand approach; since consumers view they shop a retail brand, not a retail channel.

RoadTrip

 

Global Director, Distribution Sector Marketing at IBM

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