Empowering retailers’ omni-channel transformation
In the next few years the real omni-channel battle zone will be to digitise fully the store so that the store recognises customers on entrance and that marketing and promotions are aligned and consistent across web and mobile applications. However, the majority of retailers, apart from those at the very top of the industry, are in danger of being left behind from the outset of this transformational change.
There are many mid-tier retailers throughout Europe who have managed to grow in the last five to ten years by opening more new stores domestically and internationally and also venturing into the world of online shopping.Almost all are struggling with how to make the most of omni-channel retail and to drive synergies between online, mobile, and the store to maximise sales and customer satisfaction. Consumers now expect a seamless and consistent experience across all channels, with pricing and promotion offers being tailored directly to themselves.
Click and collect real-time marketing and more are all part of this transition towards omni-channel retail. While many retailers have said they expect to continue to make investments in technology in 2014, mobile payments and websites are the focus of this investment. This means that in many cases stores are neglecting technology related to the in-store customer experience, and today, this is still where the bulk of the sales are still made. There has been an explosion in the amount of data being exchanged within the store environment and the appropriate infrastructure is required to support the secure transfer of this data in batch and real-time.
Much of this will be sensitive personal data, related to shoppers' past purchasing history and product categories of interest to them. To take advantage of this, European retailers need to focus upon digitising the store – enabling activities such as realtime marketing promotional activities through WiFi in store, or digital signage which provides relevant and contextually correct information for people walking into, and navigating through, the store. In addition to accessing the right price files, store systems, as well as customer services, retailers need to be able to access customer information.
A move into omni-channel means an increase in data that needs to be exchanged between head office and the stores. This includes:
• Online ordering information to allow for collection in store
• Information as to the return to store of goods purchased online
• Increased inventory / stock movement information to meet the collect in-store demand
• Product and customer information to allow real-time instore customer marketing
• Increased pricing and promotional information with graphical content
Many retailers are failing to enhance in-store and online promotions because they cannot share information with stores in a timely manner. If promotional information is not passed seamlessly between stores, retailers will lose out on potential sales. As more retailers extend their trading hours it further reduces the current window for store polling and increases the data that needs to be transferred including:
• End of day sales data
• Inventory / replenishment information
• Pricing and Promotional data
Retailers that are slower to adopt omni-channel processes need to consider how they can quickly address this operational gap and fully integrate their stores to meet these new changes driven by digitalisation. It is no longer adequate to exchange POS data and price files for the store back office. This new omni-channel era is about real-time synchronised digital content for marketing, promotions, pricing, inventory and fulfilment. This content has to be available to POS applications, customer service desk applications, as well as store associate mobile devices used to assist and resolve customers' questions.
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