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Tommy Chapman

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Do you know the difference between multi-channel and omni-channel retail?

Omni-channel retail delivers a seamless experience for the customer. This means that every way that a customer interacts with a company; whether that’s online, in-store, using a mobile app, via email and more besides, their user experience is fully connected.

To deliver this seamless user experience, retailers must merge their sales with their marketing activity into one central data hub, employing analytics at all levels. But the result is truly customer centric, and by connecting all activities, a seamless customer experience is created. An omni-channel retail experience.

Multi-channel selling is simply selling your products using multiple sales channels. For example, if you sell goods on your website, via a mobile-enabled site, a Facebook Shop and Amazon, then you’re a multi-channel seller. Multi-channel selling reaches buyers on two or more sales channels and these can be connected or not.

What’s the difference?
Multi-channel selling is always part of an omni-channel strategy, but simply selling your products on multiple channels does not create an omni-channel experience. To achieve that, your sales channels, payment methods and other aspects of your business must connect, so that no matter how your customer interacts with your company, the experience is seamless to them.

If you sell to your customers in four ways, you’re already a multi-channel seller. For example, as well as selling via a store, website, mobile app and Facebook Shop, you also have an email and social media marketing strategy that keeps your customers engaged, informed and coming back.

But does that make you an omni-channel retailer? That depends on whether your sales channels and other points of customer engagement all work together.

Here are five questions to ask yourself if you’re not sure:

  1. Can your customers place an online order and select in-store pickup?
  2. Can shoppers click on a sale item in an email to add it to their mobile app shopping list?
  3. Can your retail assistant look up a customer’s mobile app shopping list in-store for them?
  4. Can shoppers log in to your website and see previous purchases, whether that’s in-store, online or via another channel?
  5. Does your loyalty programme update points and rewards to your customer’s mobile app?

An omni-channel retailer can answer yes to each of these questions as all of their sales and marketing engagement is interconnected, creating a seamless customer experience that is the heart of an omni-channel strategy.

In contrast, a multi-channel seller who answers no to the questions is not delivering an omni-channel experience, in fact, they could be creating roadblocks to sales. Managing sales across several channels is great, but the fact remains, shoppers increasingly expect a seamless user experience from all companies, large and small.

How can you connect the multi-channel points to create an omni-channel experience that keeps customers coming back?

  1. Integrate your sales channels
    As outlined above, omni-channel retail is a customer-centric approach to your entire business. To deliver a fully connected user experience, you need to connect as many engagement channels as possible under one roof. The easiest way to start is by connecting your prime engagement points, namely your sales channels.
  2. Integrate your marketing, customer service and fulfilment
    Delivering a seamless user experience starts behind the scenes. The first step is bringing your multi-channel sales data under one roof. From key partners to warehouse staff, everyone needs to understand what omni-channel retail means, how it impacts your customer experience and how it can help you grow.
  3. Omni-channel marketing
    Omni-channel retailers need to shift marketing efforts toward connected experiences, for example, where a customer clicks on a sale item in their email to add it to an app shopping list automatically. Connecting your marketing efforts to customer sales data and online tools like apps creates a seamless experience from the customer’s perspective. That’s the goal of the omni-channel seller.
  4. Omni-channel customer service
    Understanding how and where customer engagement points become sales is integral to any successful omni-channel strategy. As such, your data needs to deliver more than just basic sales information, you need a total picture of the many routes that customers take to complete a sale.

    By tracking multi-channel sales and marketing efforts under one roof, cross-training staff, getting rid of data barriers and using detailed analytics, this helps businesses deliver an omnichannel experience.

OpSuite – The Premier Solution
Since 2004, RMS have been providing retail and hospitality solutions to our diverse range of clients across an equally diverse range of industries. We have the specialist software and management services to enable you to seamlessly make the transition across to omni-channel retail if its right for you and your business.

With the rising demand from customers to interact and buy over multiple touch points, OpSuite Retail Operations Software undoubtedly offers you the premier solution. Whether that’s in-store, using a store kiosk, online, using mobile phones/tablets, catalogues or via customer service sales; your customer now expects a fully connected approach to pricing, promotions and products. Not only does OpSuite provide you with a fully connected user experience for your customers, the software is tailored exactly to your business.

OpSuite is a Cloud managed retail EPoS solution that allows you to efficiently and profitably sell across your multi-channel or omni-channel business touchpoints such as physical store and e-commerce website, all from one system, anywhere in the world, 24/7.

Powerful reports, dashboards and alerts ensure confident decision making and planning right across your organisation. OpSuite also enables you to handle customer loyalty and promotional activities with ease and the integrated chip and pin provides secure and fast payments. Handheld devices can be used for mobile shopping, price queries, queue busting at peak times and regular stock taking in-store.

OpSuite can save you valuable time on everyday operations and help you to grow your business in other areas such as search engine optimisation, as well creating high quality relevant links and advising on social networking to help generate business. The OpSuite reporting tools are very comprehensive and allow you to see exactly what has sold where and when, allowing you to manage your products and stock more effectively.

These are just some of the many advantages that OpSuite can bring to you and your business, if you feel that this is a direction you would like to take, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss the ‘omni’ benefits of this truly premier retail operations software.

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6 Comments

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  3. […] a retailer uses multiple sales channels (stores, website, direct mail etc) to sell its products. See our blog article on this subject Omni-Channel Retail – The concept of providing a seamless, consistent and complementary […]

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  6. […] 93% of online consumers stated they also shop in physical stores, with 82% of Generation Y being omni-channel shoppers. It seems more people are beginning to realise the limitations of online shopping and the […]

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