In the 21st century retailing has become far easier than before. Retailers have nowadays taken full advantage of the booming internet culture, with an expansion of their chains into the online world. This multi-level expansion is called Omni-channel retailing, derived from the Latin word Omni meaning “every/all” in this aspect it means the fully functional integration of both physical (stores) and digital(online) channels and gives customers an amalgamated and streamlined experience. The early 90s were a time period when retailing was either done via a physical brick and mortar store or through a telephonic catalog order. Big retail stores have also now started to make their online presence felt by showcasing entire catalogs online.
Omni channel retailing started in the early 2000s, as a race between Best-Buy and Wal-Mart. Both of them had a customer-centric operation, where they provided in-store and online post-sales services. As the online banking systems became more secure and newer wallet services like Pay-pal gained popularity, Omni channeling gained relevance among the big retailers. And now with the emergence of social media and mobile devices it is has become integral for retailers to keep a focus on marketing strategies and open up its online channels for profitability.
Features of Omni channel Retailing:
- Customer choices: customers can now go to the physical stores for more information on the product and instead choose to shop online based on price differences.
- Convenience: online stores offer a variety of options like size charts, price comparisons, same day delivery and easy return policy etc. this encourages customers to choose the more easy and satisfying option of ordering from the convenience of their homes.
- Two-way: most retailers now offer store locations and item availability in their physical stores, via a mobile application or a software on computers, this gives consumers an ease and an option if they prefer picking up their items from a physical store.
- Contact centers: customers have a multitude of options when it comes to order tracking and customer support. Multiple call lines, each dedicated to a specific purpose; dedicated tracking ID, and email chat etc. this gives customer ample data and options on their order status and gives them a sense of security in terms of after-sales support.
- Customer first: Omni channel is the future of e-commerce and physical stores alike. But the most important aspect of omni channel solutions is the customer-centric nature and with an increasingly tailored experience with the help of artificial intelligence and data analytics; customers are now continually finding each experience and transaction far smoother and faster.
Omni channel retail in India is booming and with a system geared towards customer satisfaction and ease in shopping, it is no wonder that Omni channeling is the future of retail and is a must for any big retail chain looking to up the competition and stay relevant in the game for long. This has worked both ways; e-commerce channels have also taken the physical store route and have had a huge degree of success. All in all, it is safe to say that Omni channel retailing is here to stay.