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Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead
In the world of retail, omnichannel solutions are sometimes placed in the same bracket as a multichannel solution. There is, however, a large difference between the two, with both offering different benefits to the retailer and, ultimately, the consumer.
What are omnichannel solutions?
Omnichannel retailing essentially aims to give any customer an experience that is fully joined up, connected and integrates all channels, however the customer has chosen to shop. Everything should be seamless.
For example, imagine a customer visits a retailer’s website; they go to buy a dress, add it to their online basket, but change their mind and exit the browser before completing the purchase. Later, the brand emails the customer mentioning a discount code, and places subtle, unobtrusive adverts on Facebook, which the customer views on their mobile phone. The customer then changes their mind again, uses their mobile to buy the item via the brand’s app that they have on their mobile and has it delivered to their home address; after delivery, the customer can either keep the item or perhaps might choose to return it to a store of their choice.
All options are available, meaning that the sales channels are connected and operate universally. By embracing the fact that customers may well choose to browse in store before considering and purchasing online, omnichannel retailing can give retailers an advantage over their rivals: they are not limited to an ‘either/or’ approach, but instead can integrate their messaging into the consumer’s interaction with the brand, both physical and digital.
As mentioned, a good omnichannel approach might also incorporate elements of social media and other relevant targeted communication that is in sync with the way customers wish to engage with a retailer. Essentially, it is intended that all different channels merge into one, to create a single commercial experience for the customer that is immersive and has them at the centre, receiving a service that is perfectly tailored for them. Their actions – and the psychology behind them – will therefore form part of their omnichannel experience.
What are multichannel solutions?
Multichannel retailing is all about offering customers the choice and making it as easy as possible for them to exercise that choice and make a purchase. However the customer might wish to look at a product, assess it or purchase it, the process can be undertaken in as smooth a manner as possible. This could involve offering products via different channels, but with a fully branded and recognisable service to ensure that customers know and feel engaged with the retailer.
It may be, for example, recognising social media use, and offering the chance to purchase directly from the consumer’s favoured social media channel, rather than simply offering a link that takes them through to a retailer’s online store. Each method of purchase within a multichannel solution is seen as an entirely separate opportunity, with emphasis being placed on the channels and methods that are seen to have the most impact and be the most lucrative.
How do Omnichannel and Multichannel compare?
The most apparent observation is that an omnichannel approach is more complex undertaking for the retailer; making sure everything is connected and runs seamlessly is a more extensive operation. To counter this, the obvious advantage is that it ensures a much easier and smoother experience for the customer, which in turn should see better conversions.
Most retailers choose to use multichannel as an entrance point for their business, before progressing onwards to omnichannel. Recent research (by Think with Google and Practicology) scored retailers’ omnichannel capabilities. UK retailers gained an average score of just 52% for their omnichannel operations. This demonstrating how challenging it is for retailers to achieve the omnichannel approach.
Whatever the route, gaining assistance is important; few businesses have the technical infrastructure, experience or specific knowledge to ensure that an ominichannel approach is correctly implemented and operating correctly. Implementing an omnichannel supply chain solution from an expert supplier is a more efficient, professional and reliable way to enable an omnichannel offering. This is exactly what Retail Assist provides to a wide range of high street retailers across the globe. The retailers that choose to embrace omnichannel find themselves well ahead of those who don’t, in the ever competitive commercial battle.
Merret is Retail Assist’s award-winning omnichannel supply chain solution, designed and developed for the demands of modern retail. It is a complete, end-to-end software solution, with a central stock pool and single view of stock across all possible channels, allowing retailers to improve full-price sales performance, increase profits, and provide the best possible customer experience.
Interested to see how we can support your omnichannel strategy? Get in touch with us by either emailing email@example.com with your omnichannel enquiry, filling in the contact form here, or calling us directly on +44 (0)115 9042777.
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