March 21, 2013

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Integration : The key challenge in today's Omni-channel retail

In today's hyper connected world, a consumer's buying journey spans across offline and online –and a purchase could eventually culminate at the website, through a smart-phone, or at the store channel.

This unpredictability provides numerous touch points between the retailer and the consumer. – If the retailer fails to meet the consumer’s expectation at any one of these touch points, he runs the risk of losing the consumer. It also provides the retailer with the opportunity to attract a new customer at any of these touch points by uniquely positioning the brand.

The primary foundation that would enable a retailer to provide a seamless experience to the consumer across the channels - from researching, sharing, validating, learning and developing an opinion, as well as the ability to buy trendy products at the right price, at the right time, and at the right place - is the retailers ability to integrate. Hence, retailers view integration as a key challenge when addressing today's rapidly evolving Omni-channel world.

An integration that spans the multiple facets of a retailer's operation will offer the retailer with a consistent view of the master data (product, customers, and locations) and a single view of the inventory across all the channels. It will provide the ability to consolidate or track orders independent of channels, formats, or brands. Integration will enable the retailer to tap into events as and when they occur across the enterprise. This can drive innovative offerings, which could then be leveraged across any of these channels, formats, or brands.

Here are some interesting data points that back these assertions. According to eDigitalResearch plc., Portaltech Reply and IMRG 2012 (Nov 27 2012), while 98% of the retailers are multi-channel (running more than 1 customer touch point) only 35% of the retailers feel that they are integrated, 1 in 5 (20%) feel that they are not integrated at all, including their sales and marketing messages. At the base of this issue lies two important facts - most retailer's internal technology does not support this vision, and their current systems are ill equipped to address this challenge.

Interestingly, this need for building an integration layer, combined with the requirement for trapping events as they happen provides technology and IT services organizations like HCL and their partners a huge opportunity in helping retailers build the foundation layer for truly leveraging the opportunities in this Omni-channel. Our relationship with TIBCO - a leader in the integration space and our offerings on 'Real time inventory visibility and Clienteling' fall right in this space and are a key part of our retail modernization offering.

To know more about multichannel retailing please click here >