Solving the Major Challenges Faced in Omni-channel Retail

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By Published On: November 24, 20230 Comments

The omni-channel experience introduces new challenges. Retailers need to focus on three critical optimisations to ensure a frictionless customer experience. 

Shoppers are showing a clear preference for hybrid shopping: 60% of online fashion shoppers and 54% of electronics shoppers prefer purchasing from omni-channel retailers rather than pure play retailers, drawn to the seamless shopping experience that allows customers to engage with brands across various platforms, both online and offline. 

Omni-channel selling can present a range of benefits for shoppers and retailers alike. Shoppers appreciate the convenience and flexibility of selecting a suitable pick-up location and time while enjoying the convenience of in-person returns and exchanges. The added security of physically inspecting items also contributes, as do the potential environmental benefits. Options like click-and-collect can be cheaper and easier for a retailer to facilitate, and can also lead to shoppers making unplanned shopping purchases, further adding to the appeal of omni-channel selling.

Furthermore, multichannel retailers can employ more extensive marketing strategies, loyalty programs, and promotions that integrate both online and offline shopping, enhancing customer engagement and satisfaction. 

There are of course some challenges that balance these benefits, which retailers must consider in order to optimise their omni-channel capability and provide a frictionless experience that keeps shoppers engaged and coming back for more. Failing to address any of these will compromise the customer experience, and ultimately, retailer profitability.

Keeping Inventory Up to Date

With 82% of shoppers waiting for a sales event to make their purchases, having your inventory prepared for peak season and flexible systems in place to adapt to demand is essential. 

Running a successful omni-channel operation means the retailer needs to accurately show the inventory available to promise. Accurate inventory data allows the shopper to build their basket and not face checkout disappointment because an item was out of stock. In cases where a retailer has had to cancel an order due to stock issues, half of shoppers abandoned the purchase entirely, while only 9% waited for it to become available. Shoppers have limited patience for cancelled orders, and if you can’t keep up with demand, they will move on to a competitor. 

Speedy, Accurate Delivery

Have the processes in place to ensure products get to customers no matter their delivery channel of choice. 

In the past few years, there has been a rise of delivery choices as shoppers embrace channels like click-and-collect, pick-up-drop off (PUDO) points, and home delivery suited to their schedule. Retailers must have the systems in place to deliver the right product, through the right channel, with the speed and convenience that shoppers expect.

Good Customer Service and Returns

Customer service is increasingly important as cost of living pressures drive shoppers toward brands with good, reliable experiences. If you can’t provide a positive experience, the customer will move on to the next, cheaper option – of which, for most retailers, there are many.

Returns is a critical area in which you can demonstrate your value to a shopper. Thirty per cent of shoppers have made a return on an item purchased online in the past month, and based on past data trends, this is likely to increase following the holiday season. Providing a frictionless, customer-centric returns process can encourage customers to complete more purchases, knowing they have an easy recourse in case they need it. 

This can be achieved by implementing lenient and hassle-free return policies, providing pre-paid return labels, minimising restocking fees, and having a solid OMS. 

How Can Retailers Deliver a Seamless Experience?

To deliver a seamless customer experience from engagement to delivery and support, Blue Yonder transforms order management with an augmentative, microservices-based approach which delivers the rapid time-to-market, scale and performance businesses need from inventory availability, order, orchestration, and fulfilment to help you gain a competitive edge. And with the recent acquisition of Doddle, Blue Yonder can help retailers address first- and last-mile challenges more seamlessly, sustainably and profitably. Doddle’s one-of-a-kind logistics management offerings is now integrated into Blue Yonder’s already robust suite of commerce and returns capabilities, which includes warehouse management, transportation management, order management, and more.

We know what shoppers want, and how optimising these areas can benefit your business, making it easier to operate and become more profitable, especially in these key peak seasons where you can’t afford to face easily avoidable roadblocks.

Complete your Order Management System Self-Assessment here and learn how you can up your profits with order management microservices from Blue Yonder here.

Ajit Neekhara, Senior Director – Commerce – APJ, Blue Yonder

*All Data retrieved from Power Retail Fashion Shopper Profile Report 2023 – November 2023, and Power Retail Trajectory Report #70 – September 2023.

About the Author: Rosalea Catterson

Rosalea is the Editor of Power Retail. With a keen interest in consumer behaviour and tech, she covers everything ecommerce and hosts the Power Retail Power Talks Podcast.

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