Omnichannel Commerce = A 360 Degree View

Omnichannel Commerce

360 Degree Omnichannel ViewUnless you’ve been hiding in a cave this past year (or a crevice with James Franco in 127 Hours – a great movie by the way if you haven’t see it), you have definitely seen how retailers are continuously striving to deliver that omnichannel experience customers expect.

With the rapid improvement of eCommerce platforms, channel management software and order management systems to name a few, retailers have been able to accomplish this across their online channels, but in many instances, are still failing to incorporate the POS system, or in-store experience. This means that they have not yet achieved a true 360 degree view of their customers or their overall retail operations.

I came across an article this morning from one of my favorite sources, Integrated Solutions for Retailers, about how the next generation of POS needs to be channel-agnostic in order for retailers to deliver this omnichannel experience and more importantly, provide access to a 360 degree view of the customer to anyone in the organization”, as Branden Jenkins, GM of global retail, NetSuite, stated in the article.

This has been a real problem for many brick-and-mortar retailers in that they are unable to access a real-time view of inventory from other stores or channels. In-store associates are not able to address customer concerns and expectations, such as returning online purchases in-store or seeing if other stores have certain inventory. POS technology, in many ways, has failed to keep up and continues to be a stand-alone system instead of being integrated into these new “omnichannel” solutions.

At SalesWarp we have thought of our omnichannel management software as mission control for commerce. One that provides not only a 360 degree view of the customer, but a 360 degree view of all data across all channels, including product, order, inventory, purchasing, vendors… This ensures everyone in your retail organization (from in-store associates to warehouse pickers) has access to the same real-time data needed to deliver total customer satisfaction.

Branden goes on to quote “They [retailers] shouldn’t continue buying point solutions; they should be building a commerce solution.” This hits the nail on the head as far as how retailers need to be thinking about technology in that they need to create a system that is customer-centric, not channel or department-centric. The barriers (or silos) need to come down so that the entire retail organization has the data they need to make informed decisions that exceed the expectations of the customer.

Who does this well? Apple of course. They have perfected the in-store experience. Before I go in for something, I actually time it to see just how fast I can be in and out with a purchase or service request. I think my record is under a minute, but that is when you know what you are looking for. But still, that is fast and so rewarding as a customer.

OfficeMax is another I recall from my experiences. I ordered a high priced item ($2.98 pack of easel backs) that were not in-stock online but they had at a nearby store where I was able to purchase online and pick up same day.

Another is one our new clients (let’s call them a mall store with a younger clientele) that needs the reserve online, pick-up and purchase in-store capability. All of their systems, including POS will be completely integrated so that there is complete visibility across the organization and a frictionless customer experience.

At the end of the day, retailers need to revisit how they deliver to their customers in a way that is inline with how a customer thinks and shops with your brand. Systems need to be in sync, and as the article noted, “retailers should look at unified commerce platforms and solutions designed specifically to support the convergence of channels”.

Let me know your thoughts on omnichannel commerce and what your retail business is doing to achieve a 360 degree view so you ca deliver this unified experience across channels.

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