Omni channel has opened Pandora’s Box of Omnipresent opportunities for the retailers.
Omni channel has opened Pandora’s Box of Omnipresent opportunities for the retailers.

The New Year will continue to see and reap benefits from omni channel solutions and will travel further ahead in the direction of phygital retail.  Thriving in intelligent digital ecosystems, Omni channel retail will benefit businesses and customers. The more the channels, the more information we get about our customers. The more we know our customers, the better the customer experience.

Let’s take a look at the omni channel retail trends of 2017.
Mobile first: Hand held devices will keep ruling the market. So your omnichannel retail strategy needs to be mobile first. Giving a great offer on electronics? People will first check it out on your app rather than visiting stores or ecommerce sites. Mobile shopping, mobile payment even addressing customer grievances on mobile is the need of the hour. Customers want to walk into your shop, browse, add to their mobile carts and pay through payment options available on mobile. The smoother your customer journey is on mobile platform the more you gain out of your cross channel retail strategy.

Smarter shops: Brick and mortars are one of the most important aspects of Omni channel and multi-channel retail. Even after the development of connected devices, customers have not outgrown the habit of shopping in physical stores, though their expectations have risen for seamless experience. Stores, kiosks and mPOS will become smarter and customer friendly. Once a customer shops with you, they expect you to know about their preferences and history of purchase. Store associates with the help of omni channel retail solutions like PRIOS can be empowered to serve the customer better, equipped with customer profiles gathered from their online and offline data collected. Smart shelves, mPOS and AR (Augmented reality) will be some of the big omni channel retail trends in 2017.

Connected devices: More and more connected devices are emerging every day. Smart fridges send alerts if the milk carton is empty and smart washing machines diagnose problems and send text alerts about solutions. Omni channel retail solutions like PRIOS connects the customer’s grocery lists to shop’s smart shelves, directing customers to the products on their lists. They no longer need to stand in queues to pay their shopping bills as the solution is connected to the POS and an e-bill is generated which the customer can pay in whichever mode is convenient. Gartner states that over 90% of marketers struggle to seamlessly connect more than three channels on the buyer journey. Omni channel retail, no matter how big the concept, still is in multi-channel state mostly connecting two or three devices (Web, mobile, store). But it soon will need to grow and get accustomed to the increasing number of connected devices.

Enhanced customer experience: As for 2017 retails trends, customer experience would be the only differentiator. There is endless number of products available in the market, each with its USPs, the competition has shifted more to customer experience management. The more effortless the customer journey from order to delivery and return policies, the more you gain from omni channel retail strategy. With advanced machine learning, businesses will be able to provide better customer experience using Chabot and other artificial intelligence.

Smarter touchpoints: Customers are expecting retailers to catch up with the smart technology trends. Seamless integration of touchpoints becomes a necessity gradually. Whether it is products recommendation or customer support, everything needs to be at your customer’s fingertips. If your customer reports an issue or opts for return of a product on your app, your store and website need to be smart enough to be able to track it and provide updates.  Providing targeted offers and personalized recommendations are among the inescapable omni channel retail trends of 2017.

The coming year will see businesses partnering up with various service providers for better customer experience like Amazon and Alibaba with various courier services for order delivery and better tracking. Personalisation will get intensified and will have lesser scope for ‘choice fatigue’ offering only the best options. 2017 will see Omni Channel retail outgrow multi-channel retail and become more potent in customer engagement.

This article has been authored by Sunil Bajaj, Director-Retail & CPG Practice, Aspire Systems


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