It’s certainly a challenging and evolutionary time for retail. We’re perhaps experiencing one of the biggest shifts in the space as online and traditional bricks and mortar retailers strive to use developments in technology to reach and communicate with customers.
Generally speaking, omni-channel refers to the creation of seamless consumer experiences through a well-integrated retail, sales or marketing customer journey. From here, definitions tend to stray as the concept is applied to specific situations and sectors. What does tie it all together is the idea that customers are now using more platforms of communications to make purchasing decisions than ever before, thus an effective omni-channel strategy will seek to support the customer’s purchase journey across of those platforms and related communication channels.
Earlier this year Myer shared its omni-channel vision. Key to their announcement was a focus on the integration of online shopping, store services and the physical collection of products from retail outlets. Around the same time, David Jones also shared some insights on its omni-channel strategy and from reports, this too focused on combining elements of online browsing with retail outlet shopping experiences.
ERP is often recognised as the backbone of many retail operations, from an integration and supply-chain perspective, omni-channel retail certainly raises challenges and opportunities for our sector.
My big question for ERP and BI specialists out there is this; Is omni-channel worthy of being associated with a ‘revolution’? I’ve spoken with many people who consider it an evolutionary stage of multi-channel under a new name, this also makes sense and is perhaps also true.
Beyond the naming, will businesses invest in the infrastructure necessary to establish an Omni-Channel ecosystem? Will they commit to the model and maintain it? We’ve seen Myer, Harvey Norman, Target and David Jones state their intentions in relation to Omni-Channel, although none to date have launched it. Is there a level of confidence that smaller retailers will be looking from our leaders prior to committing resources? Interesting times ahead indeed.