Data is driving the omnichannel evolution

Industry News

For the retail industry, the times they are a-changing. In decades past, brick-and-mortar would be the cornerstone of successful retail businesses, with direct mail catalogs or television-based shopping initiatives serving as support. Now, retail must incorporate mobile and web-based shopping platforms. This has led to a massive transformation in how merchants view their business, with the most successful retail companies embracing the omnichannel shopping environment.

At the recent RetailNext Executive Forum conference, more than 100 retail executives and industry thought leaders gathered to discuss what omnichannel shopping meant for their businesses. Attendees largely believed it was critical to create a shopping platform that utilized online, brick-and-mortar and mobile, and that analytics and customer data were crucial in creating that cross-channel shopping experience. Merchants should consider the use of eCommerce software to help gather this information.

The use of data and information
The RetailNext survey notes that a significant portion of respondents are using data collection and analysis more frequently to fine-tune their retail approach. As many as six in 10 said the amount they rely on data has gone up significantly, while 23 percent stated it increased somewhat.

So what are retailers looking for in their data analysis initiatives? The majority want to improve everyday functionality, so retail operations topped the list at 81 percent.

For the retail industry, the times they are a-changing. In decades past, brick-and-mortar would be the cornerstone of successful retail businesses, with direct mail catalogs or television-based shopping initiatives serving as support.

Marketing followed closely behind at 76 percent, and business intelligence/customer insights was ranked third at 43 percent.

"[These responses indicated] that interest in collecting in-store data comes from those in pragmatic roles looking to improve the day-to-day effectiveness of the ongoing programs that drive business, led by store operations and marketing," the report notes.

As for the metrics studied by merchants, RetailNext found that conversion rates were the most important, with 89 percent citing this statistic. Shopper yield (53 percent), average transaction value (ATV – 26 percent), traffic (26 percent) and sales per square foot of physical retail space (5 percent) were also noted.

"Not surprisingly, conversion, a staple of the retail industry, was by far the most chosen critical metric among top-two answers. Shopper yield, which is a fairly new and sophisticated metric, was the second most popular answer," observed Tim Callan, CMO of RetailNext. "It's interesting to note that sales per square foot, often referenced in retail industry analysis, ranked lowest among this set of retail executives and thought leaders."

Utilizing the right tools to further omnichannel efforts
Attendees of the conference are hedging their bets with data and analytics as they tackle the transition to omnichannel retail. As many as 62 percent of retailers believe the omnichannel evolution is one of the most important trends to consider over the next five years, followed by mobile point-of-sale systems/commerce and the general collection and analysis of Big Data.

So what does this mean for you and your eCommerce operations? If you're trying to create an omnichannel shopping experience, new technology and eCommerce software will be paramount in assisting that transition, particularly with the data that can be collected and used to inform business decisions.

Tools such as SalesWarp can help organizations identify trends in customer behaviors and past purchases. It gives retailers access to a wide selection of real-time data, from inventory levels to order data. By leveraging this information to assist the further development of operations, companies can deftly navigate the murky waters of the omnichannel evolution.

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