What is OmniChannel Retail?


OmniChannel Retail - Customer's Perspective

Omni comes from the Latin word – omnis. Omni is a combining form used as a prefix meaning “all” or “universal” or “everything” or “everywhere”.[1]


Channel means any kind of customer interaction medium: physical stores (also known as brick-and-mortar stores), television, call center, website, mobile sites, and social networking sites. Each channel features different touch points including in-store point-of-sale (POS) and self-checkout, mobile self-scan, mobile payment, online shopping on websites, mobile loyalty portals, and many others.[2]


OmniChannel Retail comes from the evolution of single channel to multi-channel to cross-channel and finally omnichannel retailing. This retail channel focuses on delivering seamless consumer experience through all available retail sales channels including brick-and-mortar stores, websites, mobile sites, social networking sites, television and radio channels, direct mails, printed and online catalogues, and all other points of sale. The omnichannel strategy therefore must integrate all business processes across the entire retail organization: merchandising, marketing, e-commerce, mobile and social platforms, in-store kiosks, customer loyalty programs, and fulfilment management systems.The retailer would then be able to create a cohesive experience, hence meeting the needs of today’s digital shoppers.[3]


OmniChannel Retail - Retailer's Perspective


There are two perspectives of OmniChannel Retail, one from the retailer, and on the other side from the customer as illustrated above. The different terms mentioned on the illustration will be explained further on future articles.


Retailers or brands aim to have a single view of the customer across all channels. Whether the customer purchased items in the store, on smartphone, on the webstore or on the interactive kiosk, retailers would like to see all customer information in one single database including the personal contact details, purchase history, shopping preferences, likes and dislikes, purchase frequency, loyalty rewards, special promotions offered, etc.


When customers place an order, retailers also aim to have a single view of inventory data from the distribution centers and multiple stores about product availability. Having a single view of data also involves accessing a single database linked up to all sales channels including the e-commerce site, mobile site, social media sites, mobile point-of-sales. And the same database is also accessed by corporate sales, marketing, and information technology teams.


Customers on the other hand, they perceive all channels of the retailer simply as one brand but not as separate channels. When they purchase an item, they have the perspective that they can return items and request a refund on and from any channels. Logistics between different sales channels do not matter to them at all. They just see them as one single brand.


OmniChannel retail therefore is important because shoppers are everywhere and retailers need to be where they are in order to capture the sale and build a strong customer relationship.


[1] Merriam-Webster, Cambridge and Collins dictionaries
[2] Retalix “Omni-Channel retailing from Vision to Reality” White Paper
[3] Looba Consulting “Creating a Seamless Retail Experience – Part 1”


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