Retail Businesses with Seamless Omni-channel to Succeed in 2018
28-12-2017 00:00:00
Retail Businesses with Seamless Omni-channel to Succeed in 2018

Customer experience is linked with seamless shopping at every available touch points - 24X7 and all through the year. In today’s technology-driven world, customers use all available channels to make purchases.


So, retailers in the coming year should be fully geared up to engage with customers at every touch points which include mobile, in-store, e-commerce, web, chat rooms, interactive voice response, social media, telephone, and more.


But in a country like India were more than 85 per cent of retailers are still following the traditional means of doing business, it is difficult to expect that most of them adopt latest technology to automate their business by having improvised billing system at POS and omni-channel business strategy to attract customers.


However, with internet, mobile and e-commerce proliferation touching every single Indian making them aware of the advantages and pleasure of shopping at various available channels, retailers in 2018 will be compelled to discard traditional practices and look forward to engage customers through wide spectrum of shopping channels.


While making their retail stores omni-channel compatible, retailers should also be cautious not to upset customers through the following discrepancies.


Inconsistency across channels


A retail enterprise can create and maintain omni-channel set up successfully if all the gate-ways effectively offer switchover option. Inconsistencies across various shopping touch points can disappoint customers and their loyalty towards particular brand or store.  For example, a customer who starts dialogue on Twitter should be allowed to continue through SMS or voice call without any loss of data.


This can be achieved by interlacing gateways into one single platform and transcribing all dialogues/interactions thereby allowing customers to switch channels more efficiently. There should be proper communication and flexibility between available channels. Also, if a customer sees the product online and orders the same, he should be allowed to pick up the merchandise from the physical store.


Failing to Leverage Automation


As automation rules every sector, retail business should leverage the technology to their advantage. Companies should provide services based on customer needs, which will lessen the waiting time and improve efficacy of customer services. Customer engagement services should use Artificial Intelligence effectively to satisfy customers as according a recent survey AI will find its usage in 95 per cent of customer interactions by 2025.


Ill-informed and un-trained staff


Customer enquiries and feedbacks should be processed in real time and retailers should keep the customers engagement centers with trained professionals who can resolve customer issues promptly. Integration of technical service with customer service should be possible so that all technical issues regarding the functioning of omni-channels can be attended. Also, customer service personnel should be well-versed with every single digital channel and trained to combat discrepancies in services.


Choosing all touch-points


Not all vendors can open all available touch-points to customers. It depends on the area, nature of customers, competition and size of business. For example, a small kirana store can have physical store along with facilities to engage with customers through direct contact, mobile, landline, email and message services. Similarly, a grocery store in Tier II and III towns can engage customers with phone, mobile or physical means.  Not many people use internet based gate-ways to contact the store.


Bigger stores of super market size, can have all the above along with a website having e-commerce facility, chatroom, cloud service, mobile transaction facility, and social media channels. So, it depends on retailers that how effectively and with what tools he can use to engage with customers.


Looking Forward


Omni-channel is not just a customer relation management initiative but a “must-have” feature for retailers for their survival in today’s highly-competitive scenario. Store owners are competing to provide the best shopping experience to customers and those who have consistent omni-channel set-up will have an edge over others.


So, win over competitors and gain customers’ loyalty in the New Year by effectively implementing omni-channel strategies through integratiion of all touch points and provide the best and consistent shopping experience.


-K Ramanathan

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