10 Tech Product Categories in Omnichannel Retail
Image Courtesy: Hitachi Solutions
As covered in our previous post, omnichannel retail is a growing phenomenon that is here to stay, unifying customer experiences across digital and physical store formats. This has been made possible by a wide range of technology tools, built on the underlying objective of unifying multiple touchpoints to add value so that the total experience is more valuable than each of the individual parts.
The reasons for adopting the omnichannel approach include:
- Increasing presence and use of digital devices in-store by customers
- Dispersed customer attention requiring multiple presences
- Customer options to select and choose based on whichever format they are comfortable with across a combination of online and physical experiences
- Retail opportunity expansion for customers as brands extend the benefits of online shopping to in-store formats
All of this requires technology across multiple functions. The four primary functions in an omnichannel fashion retail experience can be segmented as
1. Self-service, payment, and enablement platforms: customers can use devices in the store to order and pay for products after having physically experienced them, even if inventory is not kept in store. These platforms allow the customer to view a sample and order it from a central warehouse or from other stores in case the location they are present does not have adequate stocks
2. Headless Commerce Architecture: This separates the front end of the store whether physical or digital (product view, storefront, imagery, ordering) from the back end (inventory, sourcing, delivery fulfillment) creating flexible options for the brand based on the kind of experiences they want to generate for their customers. Companies can deliver different types of experiences via kiosk screens, smartwatches, mobile apps, web apps / online stores, and everything in between, by using this type of architecture.
3. Customer Data Platforms (CDP): These are tools designed to bring together customer information gleaned across multiple interaction points such as websites, apps, social media, and physical stores, into a single location to provide a complete picture of the customer’s buying habits, interests, etc. This allows for personalized marketing messages and communications, product and price tweaking, etc. for a “Market of One”.
4. Loyalty and Rewards: Customers with an ongoing relationship with the brand(s) can expect more benefits and rewards as the relationship progresses. These tools help companies keep track of how much a customer spends in what areas and can create rewards accordingly to ensure greater loyalty to the brand
5. Omnichannel marketing automation: Customising offers for different platforms – email, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and mobile apps, to name a few – can be exhausting. Omnichannel marketing platforms are software solutions that companies use to deliver to their customers a unified marketing experience across multiple channels, and can even customize messages to each customer’s preferences and behavior.
Customer Service and Operations
6. Virtual Try-outs: From virtual mirrors and applications to AR and VR environments, companies can use a multitude of software to give customers a feel of what a product will look like when they wear it. Certain software even measure body dimensions from infra-red and AI photography applications, providing size, style, and fit recommendations
7. Cashier-less Checkouts: Using phones, cameras, RFID, or scan-through devices individually or in combination, customers are able to just pick up goods and walk out, being charged as they leave the store. The advent of these technologies not only reduces the need for staff at checkout but also cuts down on pilferage and losses for the brand.
Purchase to Delivery Fulfilment
8. Inventory Live Tracking: These allow the stores, sales executives, and even customers to know what product is available at what location, the time required to ship it, or the option of booking it so that the customer can go and pick it up. At times, customers in one store can buy from another store since the first may not have the product in the customer’s choice of size or color in stock. This prevents the loss of a sale and better turnaround for the brand, while also helping to provide insight on which SKUs move better in each location
9. Delivery Management Systems: These are systems used to track the movement and delivery of the products sold from the warehouse, store, or fulfillment center to the customer. Barcodes, QR codes, RFID tags, and scanners are used to verify the movement and delivery of the product and track on-time delivery commitments.
10. Supply Chain Visibility Platforms: these allow the company to track the movement of everything from raw materials to finished goods, at each stage of the process. With better prediction capability, timely delivery improves and a clear picture allows for better customer commitment on delivery times, etc. At the same time, companies can plan promotions, etc. timed to ensure the best use of inventory space, etc.
This is a quick snapshot of the types of tools being used to build omnichannel retail today. If you know any exceptional tools that can improve retail functioning, do share them with us in the comments!
Fuel4Fashion is a design, branding and technology consultancy for the fashion and apparel industry. We provide consulting and advisory services across design, business and IT processes to early-stage and mid-sized apparel manufacturers and brands looking to grow their business with the help of smart sustainable management practices. Visit our website here and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn for regular updates.