I am quite a loyalist as a consumer. I tend to purchase the same styles with different patterns from my favourite retail shop all the time.
Recently, as usual, I walked into my favourite shop to get some headscarves in my preparation to celebrate Hari Raya. To my dismay, the shop attendant informed me that the style and patterns that I like was out of stock. However, I should be able to get them if I purchased on-line.
As suggested, I did just that. And true enough, I did get what I wanted.
The outcome was OK in the end. But the experience was NOT.
My expectation as a consumer is to get the product that I want whenever I want it. I expect that should be the most basic stuff that any retailers should be able to provide.
However, in my most recent experience, it appeared that the retailer was not able to provide me the product that I wanted instantly because of its limitation in the way it managed its inventory.
This is where the omni-channel ready retailers will be winners. The key value proposition of the omni-channel ready retailers is their inventory management is independent of where consumers buy their products from. For instance, in my stipulated scenario above, the shop attendant would have had the capability of requesting and securing the stock of the products that I wanted from the “on-line store” and fulfil my needs instantly. The entire process at the back end – requesting, securing and transitioning the product from the “on-line” to the “in-store” – is transparent to me as a consumer.
Obviously, providing such capability is a complex endeavour. Some of the critical considerations that need to be weighted upon are:
- Holistic retail strategy with integrated services in mind
- A well thought out, holistic midterm retail strategy needs to be developed, taking into considerations the integrated services in mind. It basically consists of umbrella strategy to ensure products are available to your customers whenever they want it. What are the critical technology, capabilities and resources that need to be made available? What type of investment that will be involved? Where do you start? What are some of the best practices that you can learn from others out there?
- Making the touchpoint personal
- The currency of today is data. Much data about your consumers are available on social media, email and search, which strengthen existing data that you may already have available about your consumers. You must know what to do with this data. Key is to create an effective data of personalization to ensure that you can always touch your consumers in the most unique and personalized way.
- Single, consolidated view of consumer interactions
- The availability of many channels to consumers can be a potential disaster if not handled correctly. If you have some bad customer experience, with many channels available, you may end up filing your so called complains to many parties, which not necessarily will result in the desired outcomes. You may get confused and irritated as a consumer. And the retailer may end up not getting the right issue identified or solved. To avoid this, it is imperative for retailers to strategically consider having a single and consolidated view of consumer interactions from the onset.
The above are some of the most basic “hygiene” factors that you need to consider in stepping up your omni-channel readiness. It is not a question of “if” , it is a question of “when”. Every retailer must do it to succeed in the retail industry today.
How far have you implemented omni-channel capabilities in your retail operations? Please share your experience in the comments section below.