In the retail arena, terms Multichannel & Omni channel are often used interchangeably however, their is a stark difference in actuality. Simply put, Multichannel implementation completed to perfection is Omni channel. It enables customers to have a holistic brand experience without toggling between the channels. A major pain point for the ecommerce industry is the mismatch which occurs in their varied customer touch points leading to diminished user experience.
Corporates are continuously juggling their channels of commerce and aligning them to have a better reach and throughput. Over 83% retailers expect to implement Omni channel strategy by October'2015.
If we look at the unification process closely, there are a range of activities that go into Omni channel enablement. This blog attempts at viewing the background approach that goes into it:
Cross channel integration
Retail selling channels web, Mobile, store need to be inegrated at the backend to present a complete picture. The integration needs to happen at various levels:
- Unified Product definition (Catalogs) across the channels: Retailers still hold legacy systems maintaining separate item information for store items and online items. In their endeavor towards being Omni channel enterprises, Retailers need to unify these systems to bring about uniform product attributes.
- Taxonomy definition needs to be uniform.
- Channel specific information pricing differences, product availability on the particular channel needs to be in retained in the systems.
- Continuous updation of product modifications need to flow in the channel specific repositories.
Retailers spend exorbitant time and effort in integrating their channels streamlining product data, pricing, promotions, inventory etc. There are best of class platforms available in market today which can replace the existing legacy home-grown platforms like Hybris (SAP), Oracle retail, ATG, etc. Retailers evaluate platforms on various parameters to narrow down on appropriate platforms.
Pricing & Promotion
The key metrics in sales is Pricing. Pricing needs to be streamlined and in sync between channel. Any channel related pricing difference should be retained.
Retailers compete using marketing strategies to lead their peers. Marketing strategies like product bundling, promotional campaigns, BOGO need to be in sync in the product systems utilized by Stores and Web.
Minimizing the data repositories
Legacy systems and custom built ecommerce rollouts lead retailers to building numerous systems catering to different data like vendor systems, bifurcated pricing systems. It is important that the retailers weed out the unnecessary data systems. Ofcourse, the information needs to be retained in unified bases.
Inventory system synchronization
Once the product definition and pricing have been taken care of, the crucial step that remains is the integration of the inventory sources of the channels. The inventory information needs to be updated. Also, competitors are dealing today with flexible fulfillment options or cross channel fulfillments. This makes it mandatory to have integrated data sources.
The above factors will ensure the building steps to Omni channel are complete.