NRF Wrap Up: Is Omnichannel a 4-Letter Word?

Having just finished an amazing week at another NRF BIG Show and having a moment to reflect; I came home wondering “Has omnichannel turned into another 4-letter word?”

The buzzword has been in our lexicon for several years now, and it has continued to evolve. What was once the definition of a retailer selling across every channel is today the catchall for understanding and interacting with a customer across every channel she touches.

The Customer Journey

From the major solution partners on the main floor to the smaller technologies down below, one thing is for certain: the customer journey, no matter how your phrase it, is top of mind. Unsiloing the technologies and working together to get a greater view of the customer and how she shops both online and off, is of major concern.

We have seen several areas of consolidation within the industry. In some cases, the bolted-on solutions are no better than where they started but in others, what started as a bumpy ride has turned into a success for both retailers and their customers alike. Solution providers like Aptos have wrapped several independent pieces into one, creating all-in-one solutions that make it easy for customers like Paper Source to move through rapid integrations with bigger plans to come on the horizon.

Creating an Experience

Although the news has been dim with stories of store closings and the increasingly difficult task of competing with Amazon, new trends have started to come to light. Brick-and-Mortar is beginning an evolution of experience. We may continue to see store departures and oversaturated brands taking a step back, but we are also seeing traditional ecommerce companies take a step into the store. From Rent the Runway to Fabletics and now Amazon, customers are proving they still like to touch and feel products before they buy them. In fact, a recent study from the National Retail Federation in partnership with IBM says generation Z prefers to shop in brick and mortar.

The retailers that succeed will be those who create an engaging experience that allows the customer to engage at every touch point with a seamless experience, unified and transparent.

The 360 Degree View of the Brand

For decades, brand marketers have preached a 360 degree view of the customer. One where retailers know her demographics (who she is), geographics (where she is), and psychographics (why she’s shopping). At Sophelle, we believe that idea needs to be flipped.

Today it’s about customer centricity. To be customer centric, successful retailers must put themselves in their customers’ shoes and see how she views the brand, giving her the seamless experience she expects. Throughout the journey and at all touch points, she should see one cohesive brand, not independent silos of the company. To do so, retailers must coordinate operations, integrate systems and share data throughout their retail universe.

Coining the new term to replace omnichannel shouldn’t be a priority, but evolving our views on what defines retail success should be. If you would like to learn more about Sophelle or our recent work, please click here.

Contributed by Doug Weich