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The future of retail in light of omni-commerce

The reality of omni-commerce requires flexibility in the approach to business. Companies must be ready to adapt to changing trends and customer needs across different sales channels.

Retail has always reflected changing consumer preferences and behavior. However, recent years have brought remarkably rapid change, influenced by technological innovation and socio-cultural shifts. While e-commerce has gained strength, traditional retail models have had to adapt.

Stationary stores faced the challenge of attracting customers who increasingly turned to the convenience of online shopping. The concept of omni-commerce is born precisely in this context - to unite online and offline shopping experiences, adapting to the rapidly changing needs of consumers.

Omni-commerce and the development of the COVID-19 pandemic

Omni-commerce, also known as "ubiquitous commerce," is not just another term in the business dictionary. It is a revolutionary concept that transcends the traditional divisions between sales channels, combining them into a cohesive shopping experience full of possibilities. Under omni-commerce, the boundary between stationary and virtual stores blurs in favor of a seamless transition between the two.

Customers can mix their interactions with the brand freely, from browsing products online to visiting physical stores or picking up orders from selected locations. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the development of e-commerce and its derivatives.

According to the e-Isba Report: Omni-commerce Buys Conveniently 2023, the following factors have changed:

  • Consumer assessment: Consumers are optimistic about the changes that have taken place in e-commerce after the pandemic. Modern shopping solutions have been implemented, customer contact has been improved, and various innovations have been introduced in financing purchases and deliveries. Examples of such solutions include e-services at Social Security or teleportation.
  • Promotions: Online promotions are doing well during economic slowdowns and price increases. This is one of the main reasons why consumers make their purchases online.
  • Customer migration rate: The customer migration rate between different channels and e-tailers in the buying process has increased significantly. This means customers are more likely to compare offers and prices before purchasing.
  • Complexity of the purchase path: With the development of omni-commerce, customers can access multiple shopping channels, which has complicated the purchase decision process. This phenomenon is one of the effects of the increasing integration of different sales channels and the increase in the availability of information, which affects the complexity of the purchase path.
  • Response to inflation: In 2023, in response to rising inflation, one-third of respondents began to buy online, and one in three respondents began to shop more frequently in e-commerce, suggested by increasing prices in traditional stationary stores.

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Key elements of omni-commerce

Personalized shopping experience

Omni-commerce emphasizes personalization. By analyzing data and using technologies such as artificial intelligence, stores can create personalized offers and content tailored to individual customer preferences. This allows for higher levels of engagement and greater customer loyalty by providing them with products and promotions that match their interests.

Online and offline integration

In Omni-commerce, the line between online and offline shopping is disappearing. Customers can start browsing the assortment on the website, continue in the stationary store, and complete their transactions.

Payment methods

In this approach, customers have access to a variety of payment methods. They can pay online using credit cards, digital wallets, or mobile payment systems and pay by cash or card in the stationary store. They can also pay using loyalty points they have collected. For the customer, the payment method must be consistent and accessible whether they make an online or offline purchase.

Delivery forms

Omni-commerce offers a variety of delivery options, allowing customers to choose the most convenient one. This can include home delivery, pickup at a stationary store, pick-up points, express delivery, or even couriers delivering products time conveniently. These delivery methods must be flexible and consistent, regardless of the shopping channel.

Consistency in communication

A crucial aspect of omni-commerce is to preserve consistency in communication across different channels. It does not matter if customers are browsing a product online or in a physical store; they should receive uniform information, offers, and messages.

Omni-commerce: how to prepare for the future?

In a rapidly changing retail environment, preparing for the future is critical to staying competitive and meeting customer expectations. Here are three key steps you can take to prepare:

  • Invest in technology: Investing in modern technology is fundamental to omni-commerce. Process automation, artificial intelligence, data analytics, warehouse, and payment management systems are only some areas where technology can significantly improve efficiency and customer experience.

Adapting to the latest technology trends will allow you to understand your customers better, optimize your processes, and respond quickly to changing market needs.

  • Staff training: The omni-commerce introduction involves a certain degree of change in business processes. Therefore, staff must be appropriately trained and able to handle a variety of sales channels and use new tools and systems.

Training in customer service, technology support, and understanding the essential tenets of omni-commerce is critical to maintaining quality customer service and smooth processes.

  • Importance of market research and data analysis: Thorough data analysis and market research allow for a better understanding of customer preferences, purchasing trends, and changing competition.

This enables you to tailor your offerings, create personalized marketing campaigns, and make fact-based decisions. Knowledge of the data allows you to make more accurate forecasts and take informed business actions.

  • Conventional CRM system: Creation of a place where online and offline customer information will be collected and appropriately combined at points of contact.

This will enable the CRO to verify information in one place, for example, when a customer calls once about an order, regardless of the sales channel. Preparing for the future in the context of omni-commerce is a process of continuous improvement and adaptation. A combination of investment in technology, staff training, and market data use will help maintain a competitive position in the market.

It is worth pursuing a flexible and agile approach that will allow you to react quickly to changes and meet the demands of your customers, regardless of which channels they choose to buy from.

Omni-commerce: Threats and Challenges

With the development of omni-commerce, there are also some threats and challenges that companies will have to face:

  • Data security: Expanding operations across multiple sales channels requires appropriate customer data security levels. As more and more information flows between different points of contact, the risk of a data security breach increases.
  • Systems integration: Implementing omni-commerce can be complicated, especially if a company already has existing systems and infrastructure. Integrating different channels, managing inventory across multiple platforms, and providing a consistent quality of service can be a technological challenge.
  • Increased competition: The growth of omni-commerce attracts several companies, which increases market competitiveness. To stay in this competition, companies must offer quality customer service, unique shopping experiences, and attractive offers.
  • Changing customer preferences: Customers will become increasingly demanding, expecting personalized offers and excellent service at every purchase stage. Companies will need to constantly adapt to changing customer preferences and needs.
  • Cost and complexity: Implementing omni-commerce can be costly and time-consuming, both technologically and organizationally. Companies will need to consider these costs and manage the implementation process effectively.

The future of retail is gradually turning towards omni-commerce, and businesses can prepare themselves for this changing landscape by following a few tips. The primary objective is to provide customers with a unique and consistent shopping experience that will lead to success in the new retail reality.

Companies that innovate and adapt are not just surviving but thriving by building strong and long-lasting relationships with customers. By implementing data-driven strategies, personalization, and integrating sales channels, they can gain a competitive edge in an increasingly diverse and demanding market.

It is essential to remember that retail success in the omni-commerce era requires continuously adapting to changing consumer needs and leveraging new opportunities brought about by technological advancements.

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