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The Evolution of the Omni-Channel

By Frank Riso

Retailing has evolved from single channel to multichannel. Now, multichannel is evolving further into the omni-channel, leveraging various customer touchpoints including mobile, social, kiosks, online, in-store, etc., to create a seamless customer experience that presents new opportunities for even more sophisticated targeting.

According to Motorola Solutions’ annual holiday shopper survey, retailers need to continue to address the needs of omni-channel shoppers. Online purchases swelled by more than 18 percent compared to 2010, and 63 percent of surveyed shoppers with smartphones downloaded some type of shopping application last year.

While this new model presents an opportunity, it also comes with an increasingly complex shopping experience that is changing consumers’ expectations and behaviors almost daily. Using the latest mobile devices, shoppers now have the ability to research, compare prices and make purchasing decisions while in-store, at home or on the go. Customers are more empowered than ever as they use smart devices to control where they get their information and whether or not they share their insights with others.

In order to survive, traditional retailers must embrace omni-channel retailing. They must turn shopping into an entertaining, exciting and emotionally engaging experience by blending the physical with the digital. The retailers who will gain an edge are those that take advantage of the latest mobile technologies.

Many retailers are incorporating innovative mobile solutions to help drive loyalty and convenience, while improving operations and the overall shopping experience. These cross-channel solutions include everything from inventory management solutions, integrated communication tools, self-service devices, personal kiosks and personal shopping devices.

With the right combination of technology, retailers can share, record and analyze data in order to evaluate and better understand buying behaviors. This knowledge can help fuel improvements online or in-store, resulting in fewer missed sales. In addition, the right self-service tools can provide customers with the information-rich experience of online shopping and even facilitate the checkout process.

The omni-channel is still evolving, and what we are seeing today is only the beginning. Technology is the enabler, and it will continue to change the fundamentals of retail. As we have seen, it has the power to reshape customers’ minds and influence how retailers construct their operations models. The retailer that can embrace technology and understand its tech-savvy shoppers will be the retailer that generates loyalty while increasing sales.

Read more about customer solutions for retail at www.motorolasolutions.com.

Frank Riso is the senior director of global retail solutions at Motorola Solutions.

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