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    Omni-channel retail: The future of the retail business

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    Staying relevant is vital for the continued success and profitability of a business. This relevance is being introduced into the retail business by an idea called ‘Omni-channel retail’. To understand the concept of omni-channel retail is to understand the importance of being able to interface with customers at all available touch-points.

    It’s the omni-channel revolution!

    Omni-channel simply means augmenting a retail brand’s presence across different platforms like online, mobile and offline. From a consumer standpoint, it simply means a wholly integrated, singular view of the retail business across the aforementioned channels. We could term it as a concept providing a customer with a standardised shopping experience and marketing message across all available touch-points.

    The advantages of omni-channel are many. An average shopper today is not restricted in terms of options. Impulse buying is at an all-time high and as such the ability to interact and interface with a client across media or touch-points gives the retail store the opportunity of converting a customer across these channels.

    Price comparison sites today are empowering customers to seek out the best deals across the spectrum of both online and offline retail stores. In such a scenario, a traditional retail brand can gain immensely by creating customised deals for immediate consumption across channels. All this is possible through the concept of omni-channel.

    One of the most significant offshoots of the omni-channel revolution, however, is the generation, interpretation and availability of mountains of what is called , which is the most effective tool in the retail store’s arsenal in order to effectively market itself and stay relevant to its customers.

    Importance of multiple customer touch-points

    Let us understand why it is important to have multiple customer touch-points in today’s evolving marketplace. Multiple customer touch-points help a retail outlet stay relevant to the customer literally anywhere they are.

    The entire process begins with defining the touch-points a retail brand needs to get on, in order to be in constant touch with its customers. Needless to say, the online medium therefore becomes extremely important. A fully functional e-commerce site for the existing brand then plays a vital role in adding to the presence of the brand. The world is going mobile and a growing number of shoppers are consuming through their mobile phones. In such a scenario, the availability of a mobile-ready website and application (popularly known as an app) also becomes vital.

    In the offline space, a well laid out store and the availability of the right merchandise at the right place in a store is equally important. The ambience of the store also plays a significant role in the customers’ shopping experience. The availability of well-trained and courteous staff adds a huge impetus to the retail store’s efforts of providing the shopper with a great shopping experience.

    Omni-channel retail and big data

    Omni-channel is not just a state of mind the modern retail business finds itself in. It is a movement and a revolution that is necessitated by customer behaviour, which as explained earlier is evolving and changing, in the sense that the modern customer is not restricted to one channel, and explores multiple touch-points in search of what they are looking for.

    Omni-channel retail is deriving colossal benefits from Big Data, which is to say that today real-time statistics generated at the point of interaction with a customer are the basis of a more effective marketing plan. From what the customer has purchased, the recency and frequency of the customer’s visit to a store (both online and offline), the monetary value of a customer’s purchase and other relevant statistics, can be predicted. Coupons and loyalty programmes are then used by the retailers to drive resale of their products and run targeted, real-time marketing campaigns. These streams of data can help a retail brand fine-tune and hone its and optimise its returns on spends.

    Big Data is not just restricted to having access to copious amounts of customer data. It is about having access to and using well-interpreted, relevant data. This simply means that the chances of converting a customer with offers and other means are much simpler, cheaper and effective today. After all, a marketing strategy based on well-researched, insight-driven statistics that are themselves far more real-time oriented and based, has a greater chance of converting a customer than the old school way. Here lies the tangible difference that omni-channel retail can make. Not to mention the most advantageous one, ensuring the customer’s enduring loyalty across the entire retail spectrum.

    Practical applications of Big Data in omni-channel retail

    Big Data generated across multiple touch-points literally adds a huge advantage to the marketing function of a retail store. Gone are the days when radio, print and television were the only three unquantifiable mediums a store could use to draw in customers. Today, social media and mobile are tangible, low investment options that brands are exploring to tap in new customers. This means that using real-time data, brands and stores can today tailor-make offers to suit individuals and groups of customers, with a much more significant conversion ratio, which traditional means of marketing ever could guarantee. What is more, a store’s return on investment (ROI) in terms of marketing spends are far more quantifiable and tangible, meaning an overall decrease in them, while boosting their bottom lines. Ensuring enduring customer loyalty through targeted programmes is also a happy by-product of Big Data. Personalising customer rewards will ensure that they make return visits to a brand over and over again. And a happy, loyal customer just makes sound business sense. Omni-channel retail is definitely a great way to ensure that a retail brand stays both relevant as well as profitable. In other words, the future of retail is definitely omni-channel retail.