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Lack of an omnichannel could spell doom for retailers, solution providers

March 17, 2017

Lack of an omnichannel could spell doom for retailers, solution providers

It might not go down easily.

Omnichannel commerce—providing customers a seamless shopping experience whether in-store, online, on their computer or via a mobile device—is very real and is here to stay. It’s complex and time consuming to implement and a necessity to your retail customers if they want to be around 5 years from now. It’s also necessary for you to begin providing such solutions if you want to be around 5 years from now.

Omnichannel commerce is unavoidable

Omnichannel will soon be table stakes for retailers. Customers probably won’t consciously select stores because they have omnichannel capabilities, but they will naturally gravitate to them. If a retailer doesn’t have an omnichannel presence, customers will go to a competitor who does. Those retailers who don’t or can’t keep up, will go out of business.

Omnichannel adoption rates paint a mixed picture. A recent study by WBR Digital and eTail revealed that 75% of retailers classify an omnichannel as being extremely important to their business. However, only 51% are actively investing.

If this sounds alarming, it’s because it is. This shift is happening now and within the next few years will become a reality. Customers today already get frustrated if they can’t return items in-store that they bought online. What will customers think when a brick-and-mortar retailer doesn’t have basic visibility into inventory in-store and online? Meanwhile, Amazon is literally looking at placing fulfillment centers in the sky to shorten delivery time to hours.

Retailers must change to compete against some very formidable opponents, and helping them is up to you—or your competitors.

Retailers need integration specialists

We can assume that the majority of retailers are using disparate systems to handle POS, e-commerce and logistics. They might even be missing some of the pieces. While you might fancy yourself solely a POS shop, that won’t cut it going forward. The retail solution provider of the future will provide holistic solutions addressing e-commerce, distribution, warehousing and more to help retailers provide an omnichannel experience.

Unfortunately, there currently aren’t any boxed solutions you can implement that will give your customers omnichannel capabilities. That same study mentioned earlier disclosed that 39% of retailers identified legacy systems as their greatest challenge to omnichannel adoption. You must manually take the steps to bring all of their data together.

So, here’s your mission: Start with a small customer that’s willing to ride out the bumps as you learn how to integrate their systems—and maybe install missing pieces—to give them an omnichannel solution. Begin this journey immediately as both your and your customers’ livelihoods are at stake.