Foreword Online

Ideas, information and industry news for collegiate retailers

How Important Is Omni-Channel Right Now?

Posted by admin on 5/1/14, 11:00 PM
Topics: college store customer service, college retail, eCommerce, omnichannel

What does it take to become an omni-channel retailer? While it’s certainly something that your store should consider for the near future, Joan Verdon explains in Retail’s New Race for Customers , published on, how this concept is constantly evolving for customers and retailers alike. We’ve selected a few key points for the following excerpt, with the complete article available here.

Omni-channel — a name inspired by the Latin prefix for “all” or “every” — means a retailer will connect with consumers any way and anywhere they want. You can order online and have it shipped to your home. You can order online and pick up the merchandise at a store. You can visit a store and place an online order while you’re there. And with every way you shop — every channel — you get the same prices, promotions and products.

That’s the omni-channel dream, and for most retailers it is still a dream. Even so, omni-channel initiatives are being announced every day.

Retailers have to be obsessed with omnichannel because of the influx of smartphone-carrying shoppers who can easily compare prices or locate a competitor who can sell to them if you are out of stock. “Retailers have a problem that once the smartphone emerged, consumers became highly educated and their paths to purchase became less predictable,” said Paula Rosenblum, managing partner of Retail Systems Research (RSR). “It’s created a real seismic shift because all of a sudden, the customer matters across more dimensions than ever before. You create an expectation with all this stuff online that you’ve got to fulfill, and if you can’t, you’re in trouble. So retailers have picked up the term omni-channel because it’s the best term we have to describe the fundamental chaotic nature of what shoppers do.”

Speed is a must

Shoppers, Rosenblum said, don’t think about channels. “Shoppers just think, ‘You’re a retailer. I want to buy from you, and I don’t care that is located in California and Wal-Mart Stores is located in Bentonville [Ark.]. All I care is that I want something and you can’t tell me it’s going to take 10 days.’ ” she said.

The study also found that 41 percent of consumers want to be able to pick up an order in a store within one hour, but that only 55 percent of retailers can accommodate that request.

A test by The Record of retailers that offer in-store pickup found that selection was more of a problem than speed for most, with standard products that probably were on the store shelves not being listed online as available for immediate pickup.

An eye on profits

Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, which surveys consumers about their shopping decisions, said he believes the omni-channel shopper is still a niche customer, not a mainstream shopper.

“If you’re time-starved and you’re in a hurry, and you can order something and it’s there waiting for you, that’s wonderful. But a lot of people still enjoy the shopping experience,” he said.

Omni-channel is the next phase of retail and your store needs to prepare. Find out how MBS Systems can help!

Related articles on Foreword Online

Article comments

Subscribe for updates

Share your experience

Contact our editorial team to set up an interview or to contribute a guest post.

Most popular posts