At every industry event and on the pages of every trade magazine, you will find ‘Omnichannel’ represented as ‘the next big thing’. Fashion and retail brands are left to imagine a vague, trendy tech fad, presented in ways similar to ‘Big Data’, AI and IoT – for which you feel left behind if not spending gross amounts in doing it. But few recognize the reality and impact of truly becoming Omnichannel. It is not a new trend or channel that you must ‘do’; instead Omnichannel is an organizational and operational shift, essential to modern retail.
Every part of a retail business is connected to successful Omnichannel. Coupons and vouchers must be Omnichannel, which means that inventory, customer and order data must be connected to promotions management. Omnichannel logistics that are agile and responsive must be connected to all inventory and delivery locations – integrated across all channels. Product information must be centralized and matched to visibility and accurate, perpetual inventory to drive decisions on fulfillment, replenishment, allocation, promotions, and pricing. And, every aspect of the Omnichannel operation must be focused on driving an optimized customer experience – wherever that experience takes place – which means that customer data has to be centralized and shared in real-time across the organization. To operate as a truly Omnichannel retail organization requires unification of data and systems that power your entire business.
It’s a lot.
And, that’s only scratching the surface.
So, where do you start? If you are not an omnichannel organization, how do you even know how to approach such business transformation? You’ve already invested so much in your siloed tech which independently manages channels separate from business processes such as order management and customer service. Sure, they’re not all perfect, but you’ve been in a hyper growth phase and you have to move fast and stay nimble. But now, the global economy has shifted buyer behaviors and we are all faced with a very different, consumer-driven growth economy – where unified Omnichannel is the imperative.
It’s okay. You can do this.
Step 1: Acknowledge – Your technology and solutions were acquired over time. Many factors influenced your decisions. Look at current state. Embrace it. Accept it. The tech solutions of the past are not to be regretted. They represent the best decisions
that could have been made at the time, given the circumstances. Instead, find opportunity to reformat. We must not continue to take painkillers habitually, without even stopping to ask what might be causing the pain. Taking more painkillers will only mask the pain until one day the root cause will affect your demise.
Step 2: Redefine – Address business requirements in a different way. Cheap answers build a different set of problems for the future. To prepare for a future without regret, make sure to shape holistic requirements that are not siloed by business function. Best-in-class solutions can still be a part of your operational mix, but they must all exist in a cohesive ecosystem with a shared foundation of customer data. This sets the stage for agile, flexible, unlimited growth – critical to fast-paced retail markets.
Step 3: Get smart – Get the most out of the investments you make. Technology often moves faster than our ability to keep up with it. You’ve grown fast, and you’ve been very smart about matching your investments to the business vision. It’s those investments that have gotten you where you are today – for better or worse. But, now – there is a better way. Furthering a technology strategy that does not put the customer at the center of your business will indeed inspire regret. With global retail moving from a population-based economy to a customer-driven economy, your revenue model is shifting. Can your technology keep focused on the customer to keep your brand on the leading edge of consumer desires? Is your operational strategy grounded in customer care that inspires engagement – and revenue?
Organizations must make a shift to recognize omnichannel as a way of doing business, not just another sales strategy. Everything needs to be unified by omnichannel. You cannot simply ‘do Omnichannel’ in traditional channels managed in business process silos.
What drives true omnichannel success is a digital ecosystem that enhances your customer experience and unique value proposition. It’s not just technology for technology’s sake. It’s not a trendy new fad that will be surpassed next year. It’s customer-centric operations – so that no matter the channel today, or tomorrow, you can meet their needs at every turn. Ultimately, your digital ecosystem needs to make sense to your customers, and be flexible enough to fit your overarching strategy.
What’s your Omnichannel strategy, and how is your organization transforming to achieve it?
ABOUT HOTWAX COMMERCE
HotWax Commerce powers the most sophisticated business transformation strategies across the world, with the Unified OmniChannel Commerce Platform. The powerful, inclusive ecosystem brings a focus to easy integrations and customer centricity, and currently supports global clients with over 67 million SKUs, processing 20,000+ orders in a single hour, and handling US$ 1 billion transactions in a day.