In the world of online shopping, consumer behaviour is shifting and embracing an omni-channel approach. Put simply, this means customers may seamlessly switch between desktop, mobile, tablet and traditional high street stores to evaluate and make a purchase, comparing prices, locations and reviews whilst doing so.
This makes it more challenging for retailers to differentiate themselves from competitors and increase engagement with their consumers – this, as a result can affect customer retention. With all the information that they need at their fingertips, consumers are now more knowledgeable than ever before, and are more demanding. The use of multiple sales channels also makes it more difficult for retailers to analyze the purchasing patterns of their customers and to optimize their supply chain to suit these needs.
With smartphones and tablets fully integrated in the lives of many consumers, the vast majority of retailers are planning to invest in mobile commerce. In January this year, at the NRF Conference in New York, retailers addressed the big challenges ahead from organizational, logistical and technical standpoints. Increased use of mobile commerce was already very much a part of their plan.
Once the challenges are addressed, omni-channel retailing can create exciting opportunities. Collecting big data from multiple sources, processing and analyzing it will provide retailers with priceless information on consumer purchasing patterns. Those insights can be used to deliver personalized marketing to your most valuable consumers, contextualized to location and time, via the most effective channel. Furthermore, this greater comprehension of the consumer could help predict consumer future needs.
However, consumers need to feel in control. They need to have the ability to choose which brand and retailer is allowed to access their personal data. This is not an easy requirement to address, but the rewards for retailers can be phenomenal. It will be fascinating to see how the industry pioneers will attempt to do this.