Omni-channel – latest buzz word or fundamental necessity?

Multi-channel has seen a huge step change in retailing and it’s one most retailers have more or less embraced. It’s a term we’ve all gotten used to and a strategy that continues to challenge everyone.

Couple Shopping On-line

Couple Shopping On-line

For customers, it means enjoying a better experience with more choice and convenience in how they interact with your brand and purchase products, without the restrictions of high street opening hours or different time zones. For Retailers it means benefiting from far greater reach than would otherwise be possible, without the overhead from opening new stores. Transactions might be via catalogue or telephone, but increasingly it’s online, mobile internet and social media.

Simply bolting on additional channels though doesn’t deliver the benefits that Digital promises. So multi-channel is evolving and ‘omni-channel’ is already the next big thing.

You know the forecasts. By 2014 practically everyone will have access to the internet via a smartphone. It means tech-savvy, brand-savvy consumers, all with access to mobile devices, are in control. They expect to browse and compare in one medium, physically see and hold the product in another, check pricing on the go, research what other consumers think, order online and collect in store. They’ll want to monitor delivery, even comment on your performance using social media and then review online. Retailers who fail to keep pace will surely lose out.

Omni-channel is about combining all the ways that your customers like to shop, at Futura we call it ‘joined up’ or ‘connected retail’. Consumers can start in one channel and continue seamlessly in another, done well it’s about linking consumers, devices and data to provide an integrated mix of offline and online experiences with individually personalised offerings.  This connectivity is what will set you apart.

Without ‘connected retail’ customer information is often fragmented or captured ineffectively, so you lack a single consolidated profile of each and every customer – that elusive 360 degree view. Business intelligence is poorer because of it. It’s inefficient because you don’t have a single real time view of stock across your business and, while many retailers offer online and offline shopping, the reality is stock control is frequently duplicated.

The good news is Futura supports omni-channel integration right out of the box, it’s core to what we do and have been doing for the past 30 years. Many lifestyle retailers like Crew Clothing, Oliver Bonas and Cath Kidston are already building on our platform to connect with customers and to streamline processes. But we’re not standing still.  So whether you need live data for up to date stock movements and fulfilment, want to digitally enable in-store staff, link digitally with couriers or seamless gift-card and loyalty programmes in-store or online, Futura is here to support you.

Futura provide EPOS and stock management solutions for lifestyle retailers, why not sign up to our blog or follow us for our latest updates on Twitter?


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