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In an ever-changing market that is constantly striving to meet new consumer demands, it is no surprise that retailers are paying more attention to their omnichannel strategies. While omnichannel is by no means new, without the necessary solutions in place retailers risk falling short of gaining a competitive advantage.

The objective for today's retailers is to support consumers in how they prefer to shop, whether that is online or on the high street. However, the challenge remains in keeping up with these ever-changing demands. To achieve this, brands need to provide a unified experience across all platforms while still remaining profitable.

A sophisticated omnichannel strategy must be at the heart of every retail organization to help retailers to drive sales and recognize where customers are spending their time and choosing to interact and buy. To remain competitive, retailers and brands need to keep up to date with the latest innovations to deliver a seamless shopping experience that engages consumers across all touchpoints.

Retailers need to be focusing on smart technology investments that are relevant and competitive and result in a better customer experience, but they aren't always sure where to start.

Consistency across all channels

Channels come and go (e.g. the rise of social shopping due to the social media landscape). The ability to adapt to this ever-changing landscape determines the success of a retailer. Streamlining the experience across multiple avenues such as brick-and-mortar stores, socials, websites and apps helps bolster customer loyalty. The trick is to provide the right experience on all channels to meet customer demands faster than ever before.

With one-third of the global population shopping online, strategies need to cater for different demographics whilst also optimizing each channel to ensure customers receive the same level of customer service, both online and in a physical store. Recent figures demonstrate that online shopping now accounts for a large proportion of a retailer's net profit, with estimates conveying how global e-commerce sales will reach $58.74 Trillion by 2028.

One way to optimize such channels is to utilize the technological advancements available to help personalize the shopping journey, with online shopping or e-commerce becoming the norm for many customers' retail experiences. Although it can be difficult to recreate an in-store shopping experience online, this can be rectified by creating bespoke virtual shopping experiences. For example installing online service chatbots, which direct and organize queries so that customers receive the same level of service they would in store.

Personalised recommendations

To make sure customers have access to their favorite products whenever they want them, and with the rise of digital shopping, omnichannel strategies mean technology can offer features like personalized product recommendations and chatbots for customer service inquiries.

However, to ensure customers obtain the same level of service online as they would in a store, automating roles can help to benefit almost every aspect of a retail business. With social media now at the bedrock of consumer-brand communications and as a crucial endpoint on the consumer shopping journey, automation can help to improve consumer-brand interactions and strengthen a retailer's online persona through automated chatbots. However, these advantage points can only be utilized by retailers if they are willing to embrace new technologies and automation.

Stock file accuracy and omnichannel

Stock accuracy is a critical foundation for omnichannel, and better accuracy leads to better product availability, which results in increased sales. As a result, retailers are investing in digital tools, which streamline operations between physical stores and their online sites so they can optimize their inventory management and logistics. With tools in place to boost efficiency, the delay in which customers can receive up-to-date online inventory information is reduced, or even available in real-time, therefore optimizing their customer shopping journey from one touch point to the next.

When inventory is spread across many locations and workflow stages, it is important to have a transparent view of the inventory which helps to identify any data-related issues while still maintaining the ability to analyse specifics. A good inventory management system provides consistent updates of real-time stock levels, as orders are processed across all sales channels, helping to ensure that retail operations are informed and can respond according to demand. Furthermore, ensuring all retail data is circulated across all channels seamlessly also helps customers to purchase the goods when they need them.

Technology streamlining efficiencies to support store staff

Since August 2022, UK retailers faced staff shortages of 13.3%, something which also continues to affect industries across the US. With retailers heavily dependent on manual processes and labor within the workplace, this has highlighted staff shortages within the retail sector. Therefore, many retailers have adopted automated processes to free up personnel and drive on-site productivity. By utilizing technology to complete traditionally manual tasks, such as self-checkout tills, staff can be managed more effectively.

Furthermore, with automation being a key stepping stone in helping to reduce the cost of goods and services, more efficient production rates and a lower dependency on manual labor are helping to drive sales and ensure a seamless shopping experience for consumers both online and on the high street.

With solutions such as RFID technology, which can be optimized for retail spaces, brands can overcome manual barriers by saving money and time through real-time up-to-date inventory and management information. Not only will this help to reduce time and cost, but retailers can use the technology to gain a better understanding of their customer's behavior, therefore enabling a smoother omnichannel execution.

The brands that have seen the most success with their omnichannel experiences are those that have welcomed a new mindset and adapted to a changing landscape. Many retailers are still hesitant to move to newer innovations, however, those that don't evolve could find themselves left behind in the race to meet consumer demands, especially as competitors adopt technologies and new strategies at a faster rate.

With digital shopping here to stay, the demand for omnichannel has been increasing. Retailers will need to prioritize their focus on their strategies around inventory management to ensure they are keeping up with their customers' needs and embracing new strategies and technologies that can help them work smarter in the future.