Earlier this year, I was shopping at one of my favorite retailers. This retailer is well-known, international, and sells ladies’ apparel targeted at young professionals. They have an e-commerce website, mobile app, catalog, and brick-and-mortar stores in multiple continents. You might think that they are omni-channel, but my customer experience was far from it.
I had bought a handbag that needed to be returned; the handle broke after only a few weeks of use. After some insisting, I was able to obtain a store credit, however this store credit was only valid for use in the location in which it was issued. Not at the downtown store, not online, but in that single location only. It was disappointing, but I thought I would make the most of it and see if I could use the credit that same day. I noticed a store associate wearing a blouse that appealed to me, so I inquired about it, only to learn that it was out of stock in the size I needed. “Could you check online to see if other stores have it in stock”, I asked. This well-known retailer did not have this capability. “Could you have it shipped to me, then”, I asked next. This was also impossible.
This was a disappointing shopping experience, to say the least. Not only did this retailer not have a loyalty program, not know my name, but they weren’t able to sell me the product I wanted!
Omni-channel retailing is getting a lot of buzz these days. With the rise of m-commerce, the continued popularity of e-commerce, and the growing impact of social media in consumers’ lives, retailers must implement technology that will enable them to provide and sustain a seamless customer experience. Omni-channel retailing is about more than just integrated order management. While it’s important for optimizing productivity and reducing errors to have integrated order management and fulfillment capabilities, the scope of true omni-channel retailing reaches much further.
Omni-channel retailing means:
- A single, holistic view of the customer
- Integrated order management and fulfillment
- Consistent customer experience
- Worldwide, cross-channel inventory lookup
- Customer special orders from any location
- Cross-channel promotions, customer profiles and more
Retailers who do omni-channel really well provide online portals or mobile apps where customers can manage their profiles and even create wishlists. They empower store associates with clienteling solutions that provide a holistic view of the customer’s behaviors across channels. They use cross-channel data to target and tailor marketing communications to provide relevant, intriguing offers to the right customers, at the right time.
What are some examples you’ve seen of retailers who do omni-channel well? How about the opposite?