Omnichannel as the Key to Success

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People are being driven away from the high street. The reason for this? Digital. Today, more than ever, consumers demand more flexibility, and more control, from their shopping experience.

It’s widely known that the physical world of shopping is diminishing, as to make way for the expansion of online retail hubs – but now, the steady decline of the UK high street has gone into overdrive.

According to the British Retail Consortium, recent figures show that there has been an overall drop in footfall of 2.7 per cent across physical outlets.

The rapid expansion of the online consumer market has often been suggested to be in direct correlation to the extinction of physical stores, with the latest stats from the BRC supporting this statement. A total of 987 retailers battened down the hatches in 2014, which was three times more than that in 2013.

However, with other releases stating that the majority of consumers prefer to buy in-store, and with physical locations offering a host of other benefits to the whole retail experience, organisations would be daft to hang up the hat on the high street all together.

Given that online is now an integral part of any person’s life, it should also be part of any retailer’s business strategy. This is where omnichannel comes in.

The Benefits

With the need to go digital becoming the top priority of retailers, the term ‘omnichannel’ has become a huge buzzword across the industry.

While there are many definitions for the term, the main sticking point is the uniformity of all sales channels, including both physical and digital, while keeping the consumer at the heart of the buying journey.

In order to be successful in delivering an omnichannel experience, brands needs to be able to offer support to customers in every way possible. Physical outlets are a key contributor to this.

Retailers need to fully utilise all available assets. As opposed to online, physical stores can be shaped to streamline the customer experience, and create a positive brand perception. There should be complete crossover between both channels – for example, if a customer bought a product online, they should also be able to return it by taking it to a local outlet.

The advantage of an omnichannel strategy is the unified interaction of all platforms. By validating the appeal for consumers to visit a local store, rather than online interact with the brand online, it’s possible to add new value to the role the physical store plays in the retail chain, as well as limiting the decline of the high street.

Engagement = Growth

Now deep into 2016, the importance of retaining consumer loyalty and avoiding being bettered by a competitor has never been greater. The retail sector is officially a battleground – survival of the fittest. Brands need to shape their entire shopping experience dependent on every interaction that prospect has with their company.

By implementing the correct technology to bridge the divide between in-store and online, and working with the right commerce guru to lead these changes, it’s viable to create an experience that will eliminate the idea of gated sales channels by reaching the ideal consumer at the ideal time.

Uniformity is key. Regardless of the where the consumer-brand interaction takes place, a uniform experience can guarantee greater levels of customer engagement, and ultimately drive more business growth.

Jack Williams – eCommerce and Digital Recruiter, Searchability

 

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