Omni Channel capability is not just about coordinating web and in-store, it’s about delivering coordinated and consistent information to any channel and device at any time.For department stores this offers unequalled opportunities to deliver convenience for the customer. The challenge for department stores lays in the complexity that arises as the consumer moves between concessions such as purchasing a high-end painting, having a coffee in the afternoon tea café and then acquiring an item of clothing.
Sounds simple, but the reality is much more difficult if, while all this is happening, you want to support consolidated transactions, wish lists, cross channel gift cards, loyalty and mobile POS for example.
Layered over this may be payment restrictions for international customers, for example enabling China Bank payments anywhere in store.
As the in-store experience becomes more important in driving footfall and encouraging online visitors in-store, all of these challenges have a greater impact. It will only become more likely that stores will introduce different experiences for the consumer, and it has to be easy for them to interact at any point.
- Mobile POS becomes critical, not a nice to have
- Moving wish-lists across devices and easily converting to order is crucial
- Tracking loyalty is a big opportunity
- Enabling order anywhere and deliver anywhere will encourage purchase
Aging POS systems just can’t deliver this capability, and with systems such as Retail J and Micros being sunset by Oracle, retailers can’t afford to stand still.
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According to Gartner, there are four areas that should be focused on in order to improve the customer experience:
- Channel Consistency
- Service Continuity
- Customer Recognition
- Relationship History
The difficulty in delivering these initiatives is that the underlying technology is often multi-vendor, aged and inflexible and won’t adapt to modern consumer expectations or takes too long to deliver new service offerings. Typically, organisations begin to tackle the problem with point to point integration, but this quickly becomes a maintenance challenge, and requires more and more work to adapt to new services and initiatives further reducing time to innovation.
This approach also leads to a lack of a single place to go to in order to a) define and change customer journeys and b) to find the information needed.
Micro web services offer a convenient way to build connections between online, in-store and the supply chain information. Innovative services can be quickly deployed across all customer facing channels with no limits on what information can be provided and acted upon.