How retailers deal with the omni-channel challenge varies greatly, as do opinions on how to integrate strategies for online, mobile and physical transactions.
Tamara Saucier, vice president of market development at TradeCard, a New York-based collaboration and trade platform, said that while some retailers had a long way to go, others were already demonstrating highly effective omni-channel approaches in their store environments, and reaping the rewards of increased customer satisfaction.
“One of the things that few companies do well, (and omni-channel is the perfect ‘unlock’ for this), is really understanding who their customers are. Loyalty card back-end systems are often not connected to online or store data so they don’t have a good perspective on the demographics of their customers, nor do they tailor sales to them,” she said.
Tailored sales must also be accompanied by effective delivery and after-sales services to maintain customer loyalty and this might mean significant crossover between online systems and physical stores.
Department store retailer John Lewis, for example, has an established network of physical locations that include the Waitrose supermarket chain, where customers can pick up fashion items ordered online using the ‘Click & collect’ service.
The retailer has also launched a free collection service through an agreement with CollectPlus. The move was prompted by the success of Click & collect, according to Karen Dracou, John Lewis’ head of omni-channel development. She said orders had doubled through the service in the last year. And customers can now return their purchases after hours via a network of thousands of late-opening convenience stores and newsagents linked to CollectPlus.
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