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31 October 2012
Multichannel, cross-channel, omni-channel: converging the space between offline and online
​The evolution of retail from high street to shopping center, from offline to online and from local to international has gathered pace in recent times due, in no small part, to the demands of shoppers. The desire to shop for whatever I want, whenever I want and wherever I want has never been stronger. Succeeding in today’s crowded marketplace are the retailers who understand the key role of having a consistent deliverable and message.
Omni-channel retailing is just a phrase, until retailers actually operate seamlessly between their online stores and their physical stores. The business needs to facilitate this relationship by ensuring the stores are not penalized for taking a return from an online shopper and should also be credited for the sales related to an item defined as a click and collect sale. Taking this one step further, the retail location should also benefit from the online sales made within a specific catchment area of the store. Store staff will engage and promote the online offering far more if they have a stake in its success.
The role of technology in crossing the divide between store and online cannot be overstated. Stores are now offering access to their full product portfolio in store via a dedicated terminal or via free wi-fi. The forward thinking retailers understand that shoppers will use their mobile device in store to gain access to the store’s website and to competitors. As opposed to resisting this, they are embracing it by seeing the smartphone as a means of communicating with the shopper, whilst they are standing in store.
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