Retail: 5 reasons why your omnichannel strategy isn't working

Trends

Eric Chemouny
By Eric Chemouny / April 25 2018 / 4 min

Omnichannel is the future. You clearly understood it and have therefore developed an omnichannel retail strategy. Except that instead of seeing your sales growing, they are stagnating or even worse: you are experiencing a downturn. Why?

Let's begin by reviewing the basics. By definition, an omnichannel retail strategy consists in unifying the different distribution channels and solely considering the brand in terms of a single sales channel, with one stock, a single customer database and a single shopping experience. There is continuity across all of the different devices and channels.

Any advantage? Getting a network of stores and an omnichannel e-commerce site to work in synergy optimises the strengths of each of the channels. It meets consumers demand for immediacy and is in step with their new ultra-connected lifestyle. And above all, you can sell better and sell more. 

However, despite all of your efforts, you feel like you are lagging behind the competition. Why is your strategy not working?

1 - You have a multichannel rather than an omnichannel vision

As we said: omnichannel retail means unified retail. In a multichannel strategy, you have several distinct silos. And this separation can occur at different levels. The first mistake that you can make is therefore to think "multi" rather than "omni".

omnichannel-strategy

1.1 - your commerce is built through silos

You absolutely must break down the walls between ONline and IN-store. Continuing to think in terms of several distinct distribution channels prevents the creation of a standardised experience and causes a host of communication problems between the different departments, which is a source of disappointment for consumers.

1.2 - You do not have a single inventory

If you work with a product stock that is dedicated to each channel, it will be difficult to correctly handle stock outages. There is nothing more frustrating for a consumer than not being able to find their product online and then later noticing that it was actually available in the store.

Stock outages due to separate stock management all represent lost sales.

1.3 - You do not offer an omnichannel customer service

A consumer encounters a problem with an order. They send an email directly from the website. The answer is slow to arrive. They then contact the brand via social media. They receive an answer.

customer-omnichannel

Finally, they receive an email reply but it is different from what they were told on the brand's Facebook page. Sometimes a consumer makes several requests on different channels. You must therefore give the same response. 

1.4 - Different prices

A major mistake! A consumer comes to buy a product in the store. On returning home in the evening, they browse your site and see that if they had ordered it online they could have got 20% off the same product. .The result: anger, incomprehension, frustration, a feeling of having been ripped off, and loss of the customer 

2 - You do not have an omnichannel platform

A common mistake is not having the right technology for implementing an omnichannel strategy. You want to unify your distribution channels, but you do not have a single dedicated solution by channel. You continue to use separate software that you are attempting to make work together.

Instead, consider investing in a comprehensive and flexible tool that is available online such as an Digital Unified Commerce SaaS platform, which can be tailored to your needs and incorporate the specific features of each channel.

platform-saas

3 - You do not have a high-quality omnichannel database

Collection, management, analysis, action. A great many retailers have a data management system that is ineffective and has poor-quality data. Nowadays, data is a business' most precious asset. You must therefore look to have a set of pertinent, up-to-date and contextualised data to perform optimal omnichannel customer monitoring.

To best adapt your marketing strategies, it is imperative to put in place clear omnichannel KPIs to analyse each type of behaviour and suggest tailor-made actions.

4 - You offer a poor-quality mobile experience

Today consumers have totally integrated their smartphone into the act of purchase. They buy, compare or find out information on their mobile phone. The user experience is therefore essential. There is nothing worse than a long loading time, a mediocre interface, complex browsing or regular bugs that prevent you from completing your order.

5 - A lack of investment on the part of brands

In 2017, a PwC survey revealed that budget constraints were often given as an explanation for this omnichannel failure. In reality, retailers are more accustomed to investing in brick-and-mortar stores than in other distribution channels, whose workings they have not yet fully mastered.

In this respect, they will be prepared to open a new store with a meticulous design – costing several thousand euros – but not to pay to optimise the website's content, for example.

channel-distribution

Yet, each channel must be treated with the same care to guarantee a smooth and identical experience across all channels.

6 - What is the advice for a successful omnichannel retail strategy?

  • Integrate all of the sales channels into your strategy
  • Have clear visibility regarding stocks and product inventory in real time
  • Be able to handle stock outages effectively
  • Offer customers a real-time view of your stock
  • Understand your customers' expectations and needs
  • Put in place web-to-store and store-to-web strategies (Ship from store, etc.)
  • Offer your customers the option of buying or shipping products in physical stores or online

Conclusion: if your omnichannel strategy fails, ask yourself if you have really implemented an omnichannel strategy. Perhaps the problem is not the omnichannel approach per se, but the way in which you have understood it.

Eric Chemouny
Written by

Eric Chemouny

Eric is a true Omnichannel strategies and Digital Commerce platforms expert. He launched hybris in France and South Europe with a recognized success, then propelled Mirakl to a leadership position in Europe as the standard platform for marketplaces before joining Proximis as COO. Building international development is one of his main mission.

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