Cut the Bull**** – Retail Means Retail

January 29, 2017


Buzzwords are found in every industry and in our industry we have a few buzzwords around…omnichannel, multichannel, multiple channels and ecommerce…….these are not new forms of retail… Retail means Retail – and the basic principles still apply just as they did in the past – the customer is king….and always will be

Retail has evolved significantly from one method of interaction and fulfilment – like our family shop in the photo from 1925 – to a global inter-related set of channels….but the same retail principles apply…it’s all just retailing.

Our current retail world started with one physical shop which was the only place you could buy the product. This kept life simple for the retailer, as they only needed to look after one physical asset and market to the customers this one destination.

As retail developed, and retailers become more successful, they needed more shops. Often in areas nearby to the first shop, retailers would open up one, two, three more shops. These would all be run in a similar way with the same type of stock. Often a warehouse was used to store all the stock for all the shops. This ensured a better deal for buying stock in volumes, and also better range for customers.

We then progressed to multiple channels of retailing (i.e catalogue, online, mobile, telephone and social etc). Here, the physical store network was supported, but not normally connected to, the new channels. The internet (and ecommerce) has become the biggest new channel, with online shops taking vast sums of money through their websites and mobile devices.

With these multiple channels there was little or no connection between them and so we progressed to multichannel retail. This is where you had multiple channels of operation which were selling similar products to similar customers with some inter-relationship. For example, you could look at the website and see if the retailer sold a product you wanted, and then go into the store and try to find it….often it was not available.

This led to poor customer service, as often the product was not in store which led us to where we are now with Omnichannel retail. Omnichannel retail is looking at your customer as one through all channels – hence the word “omni”.  Retailers are working hard to ensure that all products are available, to all customers, in all channels, at the time they want them.

The real truth is that your customer does not care about your business channels, if they want your product in a store or order it on their mobile, they must be able to. The key to success here is to offer your customer what they want, need and desire when and where they want it.

Your systems and processes must view the customer as one person, and allow them to seamlessly shop online, offline and over the other channels. A common example of this is Collect at store, where a customer orders a product online and goes in store to collect it. This should be seamless and when the customer arrives the order should be ready.

Too many retailers and brands have legacy systems that do not allow easy communication between channels, but the customer does not care about your systems issues, they want a seamless and similar experience wherever they choose to trade with you.

#Retail #Multichannel #Omnichannel #Ecommerce #DigitalTransformation