Customers value a consistent service across all platforms and channels. They want customer service agents to know who they are and what their history is with the retailer.
Since retail is such a competitive sector that, to stand out, retailers must put customer care at the heart of everything they do. The key to achieving this lies in implementing an omnichannel strategy. Retailers can benefit from the increased customer loyalty, efficiency savings, and data insights that omnichannel brings. But, first, retailers must overcome the barriers they see to making the switch to omnichannel.
Barrier 1: “We’re not set up to handle an omnichannel strategy.”
Businesses often cite cumbersome legacy systems as a challenge they face when looking to adopt omnichannel solutions. Data is usually stored in multiple databases and across various business departments and it can be hard to imagine how the business can introduce any new cross-company functionalities.
Some 42% of CEOs responding to a survey by Deloitte said that omnichannel was a challenge for them because they were unable to integrate isolated online and offline channels. As many as 55% said that they were unable to fulfil consumer demand cross channels. But there is a solution to this problem.
Retailers must select software that acts as a well, drawing data in and allowing people to access data from several systems – this includes workforce management, operations management, and customer relationship management systems. Employees need to be able to get a holistic view of business operations so that they can offer customers a connected, and informed, experience – regardless of the channel they use.
This is why it’s vital to work with the correct platform – one that can draw data from all divisions of the company and share that information with anyone in the business that needs access to it. In reality, you don’t need to be set up to handle omnichannel, you just need a provider that can manage it for you.
Barrier 2: “Our systems have served us well for years – we don’t need to change.”
An omnichannel strategy needs buy-in from the executive team if the rest of the business is to see it as viable. There may be resistance to making changes to existing processes.
Some employees, used to working in a particular way, will wonder why the business needs to fix something that isn’t broken, especially when profit margins are so tight. What benefits will omnichannel bring to the business, and will they outweigh the initial investment?
But retailers often struggle to keep up with changes in consumer behaviour, and while the old ways of doing things may have worked in the past, retail must change if it’s to thrive in the current market.
So there needs to be full support – and enthusiasm – from the executive team to implement a successful omnichannel solution. There may be initial concern over switching to omnichannel, e.g. if in-store employees get commission for in-store sales only, they’ll be reluctant to encourage shoppers to order online.
However, by working with the right omnichannel provider, the executive team can ensure that an employee’s role in the journey to purchase is always recognised and rewarded. Business leaders need to demonstrate the purpose and benefits of the new system for each division of the organisation. Better customer service benefits everyone in the business.
Barrier 3: “We don’t have the people to analyse the data.”
Management may see the benefit of omnichannel, and know a way to transition from legacy systems, but that still leaves one problem. Who will analyse the data? There continues to be considerable demand for data scientists in the UK. Retailers that don’t have a team of people on-hand to interpret the data for actionable insights know that their organisation isn’t ready for omnichannel solutions.
That’s where technology can help. IDC predicted that in the next two years, 30% of major retailers would use an omnichannel platform that had integrated data analytics. This software collates unstructured data from across the business and generates insights that help retailers improve the relevancy of their products and services. Retail is only going to get more competitive, and the right omnichannel solution will provide retailers with the edge they need over their competition.
There’s no ignoring the need for investment in data analytics. Omnichannel solutions can deliver significant value to retailers, but only if they analyse the data for insights and implement new solutions and services based on the data provided. We know how important a successful omnichannel solution is to the success of a retail business these days. While there are barriers to implementation, most are short-term issues. An omnichannel solution is an investment for thriving in the future of retail and will more than pay for any initial expense.
By Jack Barmby, CEO and Founder, Gnatta who help retailers to deliver universal customer engagement through the use of specialised software.