Published on December 10th, 2012 | by Amy Edwards0
2012: The Year Of Omni Channel Retailing
By Amy @BubbleJobs
There’s no doubt about; the face of retail has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. While stores once only cared about the bricks and mortar side of things, thanks to the meteoric rise of smartphones, from 2010 we saw brands shift a huge proportion of their focus onto Multi Channel retailing. This time last year it was all about mCommerce and mobile optimised sites – ensuring the consumer could not only find the product they wanted, but pay for it and get it delivered with minimal fuss and hassle.
Of course, times change and it’s fair to say that over the last 12 months we’ve seen brands take a step away from traditional Multichannel retailing and instead place much more of an emphasis on the new face of retail – Omni Channel retailing. Hmm, so what’s the difference then between Multi Channel retailing and Omni Channel retailing?
Well, first up, a Multi Channel retailer is a retailer that sells and supplies products to the public via more than one distribution channel. Channels can include a bricks and mortar store, website, catalogue, mobile site or app – and Multi Channel retailing is all to do with managing these channels to ensure the customer can find what they want, whenever they want. With consumers using a variety of channels each year to browse and purchase, it goes without saying that brands need to implement an effective Multi Channel strategy in order to maximise revenue and growth opportunities.
With Multi Channel retailing the focus is very much on merging all retail operations so the customer can browse and make purchases via many different channels. While there is some cross-over between channels with Multi Channel retailing, more often than not, channels are handled separately. With Multi Channel retailing, the customer will have two separate experiences if they choose to buy from a brand instore or online – this is because the channels are separate so customers might not always be able to access the same products, prices or offers on every channel – this is where Omni Channel retailing comes in.
An evolution of Multi Channel retailing, Omni Channel retailing is focused on creating a seamless customer experience through all available channels e.g. tablets and smartphones, bricks and mortar stores, TV adverts and catalogues. With Omni Channel retailing, brands track consumers across all channels so use the same database of products, prices and offers to deliver a similar experience across all channels – the focus with Omni Channel retailing is creating the same experience for the customer, whether they choose to buy instore, from the online store or through an app.
With Omni Channel retailing, it’s all about integration and education – thanks to multiple channel options and things like social networking, consumers are highly educated which means that brands need to be too. According to IDC Retail Insights, they need to provide “an immersive and superior customer experience regardless of channel”.
To sum it up simply, Multi Channel retailing is all about making products and services available through multiple channels, while Omni Channel retailing is all to do with having consistency and visibility across all channels.
Hmm, Omni Channel retailing sounds much more complicated than Multi Channel retailing – what’s to say it’s even worth the bother? Well, research shows that, on average, Omnichannel shoppers will spend an average of 15%-30% more than Multichannel shoppers.
Of course, there are still some in the industry that claim that Multi Channel retailing and Omni Channel retailing are one and the same, however a number of major brands seem to be taking notice of the Omni Channel trend, suggesting it might be more than just a passing fad. Like I said earlier, over the last 12 months or so, the retail industry has noticed a seismic shift away from Multi Channel retailing towards Omni Channel retailing – and here at Bubble we’ve been seeing that too.
In fact, this month we’re advertising a range of roles from major brand B&Q which all place a huge emphasis on creating an effective Omni Channel strategy. They’re looking for people who can elaborate customer needs and journeys, drive sales across non store channels through a merchandising strategy and drive awareness of shifting Merchandising and customer behaviour paradigms – no easy feat!
However you feel about Omni Channel retailing (and whether you think it actually exists or not!), thanks to smartphones and mobile devices, it’s fair to say that when it comes to the eCommerce industry we’ll be seeing a lot more of the phrases “Omni Channel” and “Multi Channel” in 2013 and beyond.