Omnichannel is a rather new and highly ambitious concept. It is not easy to implement either. Many renowned retailers, however, have achieved remarkable results thanks to omnichannel strategies. Omnichannel benefits both retailers and consumers in a number of ways. But from the IT perspective, what does it take to actually create the omnichannel experience?
Fragmented data - The roadblock to omnichannel
Many retailers have deployed various systems such as POS, e-commerce, CRM, and marketing automation from different vendors and at different points in time. These systems were not built to talk with each other. And over time, they have created silos of data that render your omnichannel strategies ineffective.
This problem is particularly acute among well-established brick-and-mortar retailers. When e-commerce became a trend, not unlike omnichannel today, these retailers often set up their online businesses separately from the existing traditional stores with independent systems, operations and processes. And then came the concept of omnichannel, which requires bringing all channels back together.
The foundation of omnichannel, therefore, is built upon centralised data. Retailers’ processes and operations are driven by data, which is collected, shared, and consumed across all channels. For omnichannel, data from online and in-store transactions, for instance, should be blended and processed as if it was generated from one source.
Data in omnichannel retail falls into 2 key categories:
- Enterprise-wide consumer data: Who are they? What are they buying? Where are they buying? How much are they spending?
- Enterprise-wide inventory data: What products are you keeping and how many? How are they managed? Where is each product kept at a given moment – at a store, in a warehouse, or in transit?
Cross-channel, cross-platform retail management software
Centralised data is key to omnichannel success. It is improbable to provide seamless consumer experience across different channels and locations if your data is fragmented and kept in different places. If your retail management software does not enable you to integrate multiple streams of data, you are left struggling to manage each channel or location separately. For instance, you have to maintain 2 databases to keep track of inventories for digital and in-store inventories. This can negatively impact your bottom line in several different ways.
- Increased costs due to inventory duplication.
- Missed opportunities for up-selling due to lacking information about consumers’ previous transactions.
- Lost sales due to out of stock items.
- Lowered profit due to unnecessary markdowns.
Retailers may find themselves dealing with multiple unsynchronised software as they manage to add more components of the omnichannel experience such as mobile POS and e-commerce. Data from these new sources must be transmitted to the existing system through additional API layer. This can cause excessive IT complexity and delayed updates.
The solution to these challenges is adopting a single retail solution that can operate across various platforms and channels – e-commerce sites, fixed POS, mobile POS, mobile app.
Cross-platform retail management software unifies multiple data sources – e-commerce sites, fixed POS, mobile POS, mobile app – into one system, and helps retailers streamline their IT management and boost operational effectiveness via:
- Centralised data management: all of your data is in one place.
- Unprecedented visibility: you have a complete picture of your inventories and customers anytime, anywhere.
- Analytics and reporting: a single source of truth greatly enhances the performance of your BI (Business Intelligence) application.