Prof. (Dr) S. Shyam Prasad
The internet along with smart phones is changing the retail business. The technology has enabled the consumers to shop at their will and pleasure. This has given rise to new shopping experiences to the customers. These emerging experiences have forced the retailers to reach the customers in newer ways. A new way of retailing by seamless integration for stores, e-commerce, mobile apps and social media is known as ‘Omnichannel’. This article discusses the features of omnichannel by bringing out the differences with multi- channel retailing.
When something is new, we often see it being spelt in different ways as was the case with Ecommerce, eCommerce, or e-commerce. We are in a similar situation with “Omnichannel”. One can see it being spelt in different ways – Omni Channel, Omni-Channel, Omnichannel etc., which goes to show that the concept is new and we are yet to decide on the correct way to spell it. In this article, we move away from the spelling controversy which soon will resolve by itself and try to understand the concept. “We hold the belief that omnichannel is something new and notable, even revolutionary, not just a marginal evolution of existing thinking”
(The creators of CloudTags, 2014).
With the increasing proficiency in the newer technology, the consumers are able to compare prices of the products and buy them through different channels. These connected consumers are empowered to shop any time from any place of their choice. Here comes the concept of omnichannel. Omni comes from the Latin word “Omnis” which means “all”. Omnichannel is the seamless integration of different channels to provide true continuity of shopping experience. For this reason, many say that omnichannel is: ‘cross channel being done well’. However, omnichannel goes beyond multichannel in that it goes beyond a single brand’s universe. An ideal omnichannel should allow a customer to perceive everything and “allow them to own their data and experience, then give them the ability to use it to guide creation and context of every future experience”.
(The creators of CloudTags, 2014)
As mentioned earlier, omnichannel is the seamless integration of different channels to provide true continuity of shopping experience. One would have come across many instances wherein the online and offline experiences are divided. This is because, many people start their purchasing by going online to browse and see what is available and compare them sitting in the comfort and privacy of their place and go to a physical store to make the purchase. Thus emerges the need to have a continuous experience, not only with a single brand but across brands, across different channels and across various devices and all these completely personalized. This is omnichannel. The systematic integration of various channels provides unmatched buying convenience irrespective of whether the customer is in a real or a virtual world.
Omnichannel is a potent tool for both the customer and the retailer. The problems such as showrooming and webrooming are nearly non-existent in omnichannel. It also provides the retailers with vast opportunities to increase the sales and create brand awareness and store loyalty. “Up to 25% of recent online or mobile purchases in the UK and Germany involved products which customers could not have purchased locally
(Deloitte, 2014). A consumers survey conducted by Deloitte has shown that ‘frequent shoppers and those planning high-value purchases are more likely to use a range of channels for their purchases, so a presence across channels allows retailers to capture this market segment’. The impact of omnichannel is shown in the figure 1.