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2 Warning Signs That You Need To Overhaul Your Omni-Channel Strategy

Hands with a small shopping cart coming out of a computer screen

An omni-channel retail strategy is necessary to maneuver the modern retail landscape, but like any navigation system, it also requires the occasional update.

Omni-channel retailing blends a retailer’s various shopping channels into a seamless operation. However, for an omni-channel operation to run smoothly, retailers need to periodically evaluate whether their omni-channel processes are meeting customer expectations.

Mid-market retailers should watch for these two warning signs that their omni-channel retail strategy needs an overhaul. 

  1. Inconsistent information displayed across shopping channels: Omni-channel retailing describes the behavior of the modern customer — shopping without borders. Since consumers comfortably frequent their favorite retailers via computers, tablets, smartphones and trips to the store, they expect prices, product descriptions and promotions to remain consistent across shopping channels.

    As a retailer, any discrepancies across channels should signal that you need to revamp your omni-channel retail strategy. Discrepancies could include inconsistent prices for the same product sold online and in-store, or the inability to apply a storewide sale to purchases made online.

    Look for a technology solution that helps you to maintain greater consistency across your shopping channels. That could include a retail ERP system that automatically updates product prices across channels when changes are made.

  2. Some omni-channel operations are managed manually or inefficiently: Just like the modern customer who shops without borders, stores should operate the same way. So when overhauling an omni-channel retail strategy, you need to consider automating and improving your existing process instead of creating something completely new. 

    Consider the omni-channel requirements to issue special orders. Traditionally, special orders were a back-office operation, but these days they could originate on the sales floor, such as when a customer wants to buy a pair of shoes that are not in stock at the store.

    You should have a defined special order process that’s efficient and tracks orders in real-time, but also features enough flexibility to adjust according to the various ways the order originated. For example, should the inventory for a special order primarily come from other store locations, the vendor or the warehouse? Where should the product be delivered: to the store where the order originated or to the customer’s home? At what point in the process should the customer pay for the special order?

    It’s important to evaluate whether any part of your special order process is managed manually. Entering information manually into a retail ERP system is prone to error and wasted time, so it should be avoided whenever possible.

    If you have a special order procedure in place, it’s still helpful to examine if that process could also integrate with in-store pickup, home delivery and other processes. You should always strive to process orders according to the customer’s preference.

The key to a successful omni-channel retail strategy is defining the purpose of each shopping channel rather than jumping on the omni-channel bandwagon and then taking a “wait-and-see” attitude. 

Consider mobile, a growing omni-channel medium that includes mobile apps or mobile-optimized websites. Mobile apps should offer more than just product and store information. They need to feature a compelling reason for people to download and keep using them.

In addition to defining the purpose of a shopping channel, you should have processes and the technology that supports that channel. It’s a big mistake to implement any processes without giving careful consideration to the time commitment and software that’s required to make the channel a viable part of your omni-channel retail strategy.

Above all, keep in mind that a successful omni-channel retail strategy won’t run on autopilot. To navigate the modern retail landscape, you’ll need to continuously evaluate whether the efficiency of your omni-channel processes doesn’t come at the cost of customer satisfaction.

Author: Wm. Matthew Street, Solutions Consultant/Retail Product Lead at ArcherPoint

To learn more about omni-channel retailing, schedule a demo of ArcherPoint's Retail Management Solutions.