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The Importance Of Omni-Channel Retailing

How technology can help bring the worlds of the physical and online stores together

11Mar

Business people have a special relationship with buzzwords. Often initially embraced, many of them are quickly forgotten, labeled as cliches which by themselves, have very little meaning.

Some however are accepted, with the terms ‘Big Data’, ‘Innovation’ and more recently ‘Omni-channel Retailing’ now commonly used without a second’s thought. Although some commentators still use them incorrectly, they have come to mean something that’s quantifiable and more importantly, essential for companies if they’re to succeed.

Way back in the early 2000s, many publications claimed that bricks and mortar stores would cease to exist and that consumers would only be interested in online brands whose websites they could browse from the comfort of their homes.

Predominantly, this hasn’t come to fruition. It’s true that certain industries, like music and film for example, have seen their physical stores become less successful, but this has been more to do with the rise of MP3 and the convenience of downloading sites than the brilliance of online retailers like Play.com.

Online retailing has of course become an important facet for companies which also have physical stores, but there’s not doubting the high-street remains and integral part of the shopping experience.

Many customer surveys state that convenience is the main reason why consumers have started to opt for more online shopping. Due to this, it’s essential that companies implement the correct technologies to blend the two spaces together.

Convenience is the driving force behind the success of online retailing, and whilst it hasn’t taken over the bricks and mortar arena, it has put considerable pressure on it.

Consumers do not like to wait in queues, with it being claimed that a line that’s over 5 minutes and 54 seconds will be long enough to put customers off. Online shopping eliminates queuing and the fact that goods have to be shipped has yet to put people off. This is especially true now with companies like Amazon offering one-day delivery as part of their Prime service.

As a way of saving physical stores, some application developers are looking to build a service which allows customers to join a queue whilst they’re at home, meaning that they bypass lengthy queues. This is something that’s still in development, but it’s an exciting space and could help physical stores prolong their relevance.

The rise of Omni-channel retailing has meant that the importance placed on RFID and streamlining services has increased significantly. Although far from being the end of the road for the bricks and mortar world, we’re coming to a stage where people are becoming less and less willing to deal with the hassles that it throws up. The times are changing and it will be up to physical retailers to change with them.

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