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Omnichannel strategy

The concept of being an omnichannel retailer is now well established among commentators and retailers. Therefore to win in omnichannel retailing an omnichannel strategy is required. 

The challenge is working out how to meet the needs of a new generation of buyers. This new generation has vastly different expectations and shopping habits to those that went before. Omnichannel retailing is the way to meet those expectations.

OMNIS by Iconography
OMNIS by Iconography

Did you know that our Unified Commerce platform mixes eCommerce, RMS, CRM and EPoS to provide an award winning omnichannel solution?

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What does it mean to be an Omnichannel Retailer?

The idea behind omnichannel retail is that wherever a customer interacts with a retailer the experience is consistent, fluid and personalised. Consequently an omnichannel retailer allows customers to move between channels without disruption or interference. Personalisation is integral to being an omnichannel retailer and delivering an omnichannel customer experience. Therefore customers need to be served with tailored offers, products and home pages to enhance their shopping experience. 


Omnichannel retail both reflects and enables the changes to the way that consumers shop. The eCommerce expansion amongst omnichannel retailers has created a vastly different retail landscape. One result of changing consumer habits is a fragmented and often confusing retail environment for the aspiring omnichannel retailer. Delivering a true omnichannel customer experience is one way to fix the fragmentation.


What is Unified Commerce?

Unified Commerce offers an all-in-one approach to retailers that want to move from siloed multichannel retail to cohesive omnichannel retailing. If omnichannel retailing is the objective then unified commerce, via a cloud based unified commerce platform, is the best means to that end. It is possible to try and deliver the omnichannel retail objective by stitching together various different retail management systems. However, these “bolt-on” and “work-around integrations” often fail and can have the opposite effect. Unstable integrations can seriously hamper the smooth running of day-to-day operations.

In summary unified commerce is a cloud-based software solution that combines CRM, eCommerce, a suite of omnichannel retail management functionality. It includes inventory management, warehouse management and reporting and EPoS in one system. A key factor is that each function updates in real time from a central database. Key is that data is available in real-time from one source and is always accurate across every channel for every stakeholder. Most importantly it will allow customers to move between channels without disruption or interference.

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Developing an Omnichannel strategy

In the first instance omnichannel strategy is not about software. The starting point in developing an omnichannel strategy is to take a long hard look at your business. A fundamental question to ask is: “How can I better meet my customers needs?”.


Omnichannel customer experience

According to a PWC study, Speed, convenience, helpful employees and friendly service matter the most to consumers, each hitting over 70% in importance. If you give customers a great experience then they’ll buy more, be more loyal and share their experience with friends. Hence the value of an omnichannel strategy.

The omnichannel customer experience needs to feel human. Hence, when you harness the power of technology it needs to be designed for humans. In this way it will deliver a strong and positive emotional connection to your brand and your business.

A successful omnichannel strategy will start with a thorough review of your retail management systems and processes. This provides deep insights into how your business is actually running. It contributes to ensuring your retail management tasks are effective. It will help you to identify improvement needs. It will tell you the extent to which existing retailer software, systems and related procedures are delivering on your objectives.


Here’s five useful outcomes to expect from a retailing system review:


1. Uncover and solve irregularities and weak points in your Retail Management System

2. Expose the errors and inefficiencies that poor retailer software integrations create

3. Improve and add to financial metrics, KPIs and team performance

4. Pinpoint training requirements for staff

5. Execute and devise new in-store techniques and practises


Read more on how to establish clearly where you are right now with a full review checklist. 


Translating Strategy into an Omnichannel Customer Experience

Developing a good strategy requires a good understanding of what exactly an omnichannel customer experience looks like. An Omnichannel Customer Experience can have various features. Customers have so many ways to engage with retailers, from traditional channels to an ever-growing array of digital modes.  So, it helps to get a clear picture of the touch points where a customer can experience your company. 

A digital buying journey, for example, will very often begin with a social media interaction. It may be an advert or post on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or other. It will often lead to a website visit to browse the range of products and the detail of those of interest. A question about the product might be placed with the onsite widget, an email inquiry or phone call to a store. The question might be about size or stock.  Whoever handles the interaction needs to have that unified real time view across shop and warehouse locations to know if the customer purchasing desire can be fulfilled.


Four key steps to a successful and transformational omnichannel strategy

Detailed in a McKinsey and Company study


1. Define omnichannel strategy and design principles

Develop a vision for how to deliver an excellent experience but also how these interactions should feel for their customers. 


2. Map service journeys to inform the omnichannel customer experience

Greater visibility into customer personas enables the design of end-to-end service journeys across digital and live channels.


3. Invest in foundational enablers for omnichannel retail

To implement an effective omnichannel strategy, companies must embrace a culture of customer orientation across all employees.


4. Build out IT architecture

The principles, service journeys, and functional enablers must be supported by a unified commerce architecture that can help to deliver a coherent omnichannel retail experience.


Omnichannel retailers lead the way

As time goes by, software vendors who listen to their omnichannel retailer customers evolve new solutions that make the most of fast changing technology trends. Those retailers who are aware of the changes going on around them will be seeking these solutions out. In doing so they will get ahead and reap the advantages and rewards of either being pioneers. 

The IT architecture of a unified commerce software is increasingly seen as the way to deliver omnichannel retail eCommerce. So, understanding what to look for to ensure you get the real thing is important.   

Only with a single view of inventory, orders, and customer data, can omnichannel retailers keep track of what’s happening across their entire business in real time. This allows them to make informed business decisions that drive revenue. Customers will only get the benefits of being able to browse, pay, and fulfill orders however they want if the platform genuinely and without interruption delivers always up-to-date product inventories.


Omnichannel Retail Software & Unified Commerce Platforms


Lightspeed

A Canadian company and dedicated Unified Commerce provider whose platform offers to “... manage your inventory, service, data, staff, and customer relationships with a single technology.  We provide our omnichannel retailer customers with a simple way to build, manage and grow their retail, restaurant or eCommerce business, and create a best-in-class omnichannel customer experience. Our end-to-end solutions unify inventory, customer management, sales and analytics across all channels, in-store and online."


Shopify

Shopify is a big global player in eCommerce and it’s no surprise that one of their platform variants offers a unified approach to omnichannel retail. In their own words: “Shopify POS is the most versatile system for unifying your in-store and online sales. Delight customers at every touchpoint and win back time to focus on what matters most to your business.” And they know from their omnichannel retail customers experiences where the pain is “When you’re able to sell everyone with one platform, the lines between offline and online become blurred—purchases and fulfillment feel fluid to customers, and you and your staff aren’t left wrangling siloed data or dozens of disparate tools to run your business.


Eurostop

Another vendor who claims to be:  “A one stop shop for your connected omnichannel retail software and systems.”  They go on to say:  “Our connected suite of omnichannel retailer software enables you to offer your customers a connected omnichannel retail experience, driving customer loyalty and optimising your business performance. Connected omnichannel retail software in a connected world.”

In all cases it’s worth checking that the comprehensive all-in-one system doesn't leave some essentials out. So, for example, make sure it has got warehouse management included and the eCommerce element is native.  


OMNIS Unified Commerce software - The evolution of modern retail


OMNIS omnichannel retailer customers

OMNIS is the genuine article, an end-to-end omnichannel retail eCommerce platform. It's a single coherent software system, offering enterprise-level eCommerce, EPoS, CRM and a suite of essential omnichannel retail management functionality. It will optimise your omnichannel retail operations and drive business growth. 

The words of OMNIS omnichannel retailer customers are the best evidence on how we at Iconography have delivered on the promise to deliver an all-in-one approach and move from siloed multichannel retail to cohesive omnichannel retailing.


“We have worked closely with the great team at Iconography to deploy the eCommerce, EPoS and retail management elements of OMNIS into a solution customised to our particular workflow and needs. As well as making the business far more efficient we have been able to land a lot of new orders because I can do things with this system that were impossible before.”
- Julia Jones


“We now see ASTB as a fully embraced omnichannel retail business. Everything we do from the print ad to a digital ad, to the in store experience, to the web site - they are now all fully interconnected. We want customer trust in us to be really solid and one way to do that is to make sure the online experience and the in-store experience are presenting the same message to the end-consumer.”
- And So To Bed


“Our brief was complex. We needed a multi-brand eCommerce site which provided the consumer with different buying and booking options, as well as a till system for our retail stores. FootBalance UK now has a fully responsive site, connected to the instore till system which allows for fully automated stock control. The possibility of overselling items is prevented as the stock is instantly updated on the database. It’s so much better than the traditional 10 to 15 minute lag time with a third party integration.”
- Footbalance



Wrapping up: get started with Omnichannel Retailing

To crack omnichannel retail and be the best omnichannel retailer, pursue an omnichannel strategy using a unified commerce platform. Before that however you need to understand what the omnichannel customer experience looks like for your business. 

Omnichannel retailing takes focus and effort. Most important is to work out how a customer can interact with your business across multiple channels as part of one cohesive customer journey. Plan for marketing, sales, customer support and in-store experiences to be connected up. Know how a customer can easily go from one channel to another to complete their purchase. Then implement the right unified commerce IT solution. 


OMNIS was born out of the needs of a leading direct to consumer brand to support their online and instore retailing formats in the UK market. They were facing the same problems and challenges that present obstacles for any retailer.

As a progressive and forwarding thinking brand, our client wanted to remove the limitations, constraints and operational inefficiencies associated with integrating an eCommerce website with offline EPoS and legacy back office retail software.

We quickly saw the vast potential OMNIS possessed. It’s a need we’ve recognised with many other retailers and DTC brands that have similar aspirations and want to remove the restrictions of old retail technology and software.

In OMNIS you can create multiple warehouses with any number of locations, place purchase orders and complete stock transfers. We have a full range of reporting and administrative control suite. Together, these give you complete control and oversight over your stock across all channels.


Online and instore retail
Online and instore retail

OMNIS Retail is a pioneering new retail solution that has been driven by D2C brands & niche retailers looking to the future. A single database eliminates any data integration issues between outdated systems, instead providing a cloud-based omnicommerce retail solution fit for the 21st century.

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