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Multichannel is dead, long live omnichannel

Multichannel retailing has become the norm for most fashion retailers, but as the importance of customer experience as a key brand differentiator is ever increasing, it is high time to move from multi to omnichannel.

Multichannel retail strategies emphasise the ability to serve customers through multiple channels – from web, mobile and social to the physical store – but lack the focus on integration which leads to the all-important single view of the customer. Instead, multichannel delivers disconnected, singular experiences.

Omnichannel builds on the premise of serving customers across multiple channels, but understands the critical importance of integration to provide seamless and consistent retail experiences regardless of which channel the customer is engaging with – a fundamental difference when it comes to building customer advocacy.

The future of fashion is omnichannel

Consumers don’t think in channels in the way retailers do and require the same service levels and access to information from the retailers’ in-store and digital offerings.

Today’s fashion consumers move across channels as they navigate through their shopping experience and expect access to stock levels as well as to the latest services such as click-and-collect, mobile payments and personalised discounts regardless of which channel they’re engaging with.

Retailers who fail to achieve seamless cross-channel integration, or ignore the need for it, will find it difficult to fulfil these demands in a satisfactory way, whilst those that provide a true omnichannel environment across all customer touchpoints can expect to benefit from enhanced customer experiences and retail sales growth.

From purchasing and replenishment to promotions and pricing, omnichannel reduces inventory costs and increases customer service levels. Customer data is collected and accessible across touchpoints and can be leveraged to personalise products and services.

The goal for today’s fashion retailer is a consistent cross-channel experience that encompasses promotions, pricing and the ability to collect and return, in order to:

  • Maximise customer loyalty
  • Leverage brand to attract a broader customer base
  • Remain competitive in a dynamic and fast moving environment

Retailers that operate omnichannel engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to a retention rate of 33% for retailers with weak omnichannel customer engagement (source: Aberdeen Group via OneReach.com).

56% of customers will fail to become returning customers if a retailer doesn’t have an omni-channel strategy in place. On top of this, acquiring new customers can cost three times as much as it does to sell to an existing customer.

The bottom line? The cost of not implementing an omnichannel strategy equals 10% in lost revenue (Source: RIS/EKN Customer Engagement Tech Trends Study VIA VendHQ.com). 

Omnichannel is connected, continuous and consistent

Despite the numerous benefits of omnichannel to both the retailer and the consumer, multichannel still dominates the retail space.

Many retailers operate legacy systems that make it difficult to provide a truly integrated omnichannel experience. Research by management consultancy Kurt Salmon confirms that “Retailers just do not have the ‘glue’ they need to link all the channels together, so they are disappointing customers and losing sales”.

Technology is central to the adoption of an effective omnichannel strategy. To achieve omnichannel success, an integrated single system that spans across departments will have to be in place to give the retailer complete visibility of internal processes, including stock and supply chain information, as well as the single view of the customer and to allow for this data to be distributed and connected across each and every customer touchpoint.

Few retailers have yet implemented true omnichannel strategies and great opportunities remain for forward-thinking fashion retailers to lead the way and deliver experiences that not only meet but exceed customer expectations.

Find out how HSO can enable you to connect complex business functions and deliver a truly customer oriented experience.

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