Omnichannel is everywhere! Omnichannel is coming! Is your organization ready for omnichannel? If not, you are going to go bankrupt.
Say some in the supply chain circles. However, is it all true?
The omnichannel conversation can be maddening, and supply chain leaders are still struggling to keep up with the demand for omnichannel experiences and deliver on brick-and-mortar promises without adding any extra costs and meeting customer expectations every step of the way. It is a tall order that seems almost impossible to fill. Industry experts are starting to voice concern that omnichannel as a term has created too much strife and is confusing supply chain leaders. In a recent Forbes publication, Steve Dennis described the state of omnichannel as something that needs burying. It is an overused term in an equally over-stretched industry. Yet, it is not really dead; it is amid a transformation and reinvention of seamless experiences. Supply chain leaders need to understand whether omnichannel is dead, dying, or thriving, as well as what it means for their operations today.
No, omnichannel is not dead. However, the term as it applies to blending channels and ensuring consumers can get anything online and in-store from the nearest pickup center is dead. Supply chain leaders have become obsessed with the need to go omnichannel, and this level of intense focus presents a problem. Omnichannel is about blending experiences, giving customers what they want. Take that sentence in for a moment.
The implication of omnichannel is blending experiences to create something for customers. Therefore, the idea of omnichannel, or making sure you are in every channel, at times devoid of asking your target consumer base if they want or even need every channel, is dead. Some retailers have forgotten about the value of customer experiences in terms of how a channel influences their decisions.
The truth is that omnichannel is on the way out, replaced by a blending of channels that focuses on the customer as a channel. Customers want a harmonized experience that does not detract from their shopping journey with jumps through online and in-store platforms. They want the experience to occur without thinking about it.
For example, customers want to visit a store to pick up fruit, but upon entering, they discovered that a coupon had been sent to their phone for an item they had viewed three weeks prior. If the customer moves throughout the store toward that item’s location, additional notifications may occur that present the item’s benefits, functions, and reasons to purchase. When leaving the store, customers want systems capable of immediately recognizing the customer has made a purchase and can leave of their own volition. Speaking of which, the idea of checking customer receipts has come under fire in recent months as some retailers, including Walmart, have moved to begin asking customers to prove their purchase. What is the good in omnichannel if the retailers have such distrust amid customers?
Here is the answer to the last question. Omnichannel empowers retailers to connect with consumers. When a disconnect arises, new processes adversely affect customer experiences. Some organizations, such as Costco and Sam’s Club, have long-established policies that require users to present a receipt before leaving. Unfortunately, transferring this model into retailers that don’t usually require receipts before walking through an exit has proven difficult, reports California ABC News. YouTube is littered with the experiences and outrage associated with this practice. However, evidence suggests omnichannel is growing as businesses learn more about their customers.
Where Walmart’s initiative to begin checking receipts rose from individual stores, the company is rapidly responding to requests for policy changes and establishing a given, standard practice. Furthermore, customers that are using multiple shipping and shopping channels tend to spend 4% more in brick-and-mortar locations and 10% more at online stores, reports Applause.com. This is an opportunity for retailers to collect more data, and the application of this data could quickly become valuable as companies look for ways to overcome the outrage over receipt checking. In a sense, the new practice will encourage the growth of omnichannel and focus faster on customers as the only channel that matters.
Omnichannel is not going away, so it is time to stop asking, “Is omnichannel dead?” Instead, the way retailers approach omnichannel must evolve. Instead of focusing on individual channels as part of an overarching omnichannel strategy, supply chain leaders should focus on customer experiences above all else. Focusing on customers is the only way to understand what they want and expect from your organization honestly. In turn, your technologies and systems will need updating and improvement, empowering customers of tomorrow.
Since omnichannel is amid a transformation, ensure your organization has what it needs to succeed.
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