Why Retailers Forfeit the 30% Omni-Channel Premium
Omni-channel retailing has attracted a lot of attention in recent years – but many retailers still don’t realize its full potential. After countless man-hours and endless expense, they develop a multi-channel strategy across a range of sales and marketing platforms that is – well – pretty good. But is “pretty good” good enough? When sales and marketing platforms include ecommerce, social media, and mobile apps alongside more traditional methods like brick & mortar store, catalogues and kiosks, why do businesses leave their channel to market incomplete?
Maybe the problem lies in the widespread confusion about omni- vs. multi-channel initiatives. An omni-channel system takes a connected approach to multiple channels, seamlessly integrating customer activities into a single conversation, even when the customer decides, for whatever reason, to switch channel. In omni-channel retailing, the customer can select and change channels in any way that suits them – and the retailer can respond instantly to deliver the experience that the customer needs. Each time the customer interacts with the brand, they generate data that the retailer can use to better anticipate and serve the customer during the next conversation.
So, if omni-channel initiatives are so powerful, why are retailers not taking the next step?
In a multi-channel system, a retailer grows from a single channel to multiple channels with each channel essentially operating as a separate business unit. Each has its own pricing, promotions, inventories, and back office systems. The omni-channel system integrates all of these channels and their accumulated data into one cohesive view of the business and customer. But many retailers wrongly believe that their organizational structure and systems don’t lend themselves to the new environment.
Many feel that a fundamental redesign of the corporate retail organization – from a single P&L regardless of channel, to “rip and replace” of IT systems – would need to occur at the most basic levels. And many organizations are unsure if the extra time, money and risk to reorganize is worth the advantages promised by an omni-channel strategy. In short, many retailers have adopted a wait-and-see stance before they invest.
However, these retailers can take comfort and guidance from the conclusions of the IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Retail 2015 Predictions conference. Based on a survey of top retailers, the conference predicts that “In 2015, CIOs will invest in omni-channel integration technologies as a top priority to support growth in the omni-channel shopper sales premium of 30%.“
The Future is Now
When retailers invest in omni-channel integration, they essentially design an entirely new supply chain of unified capabilities that can simultaneously handle the demands of their “brick and mortar” stores, their ecommerce sites, and any other channel that they have in place. The retailers that have already done so are already seeing the benefits:
- Corporations that have invested in omni-channel services are already witnessing an average of 30% increase in sales.
- The IT departments of these corporations are spending far less time performing the redundant or duplicate tasks required by a multi-channel system.
- Both structured and unstructured data are more successfully and easily integrated across the company than with a multichannel operation.
- IT departments can retire older technologies that are no longer performing at their previous levels of efficiency.
- Consumer impacts on individual channels can now be identified almost immediately and the channels adjusted accordingly.
While many businesses may be cautious about taking the next step, the shopping characteristics of today’s consumer are rapidly changing. Customers are moving into an omni-channel world, whether the retailer is ready or not. This means that the business might be forced to play catch-up to their customers, and perhaps sooner than they might like. Omni-channel initiatives simply reflect, improve and realize the value of this customer behavior. Omni-channel initiatives are about making the individual consumer the main focal point of the business model.