Will 2018 be the Year to Go Omnichannel?

Simon Eskow Supply Chain Articles Leave a Comment

Predictions for the new year come in December as regularly as New Year’s Eve. And from what we’ve been reading lately, trends point to the need for businesses to go omnichannel. In the end, customers will continue to ignore the differences between one channel and another, driving businesses to change how they manage their supply chains.

The Trends That Say to Go Omnichannel

The key difference between multichannel and omnichannel is integration. From a business perspective, integration leads to the ability to seamlessly fulfill customer orders regardless of how they shop and how they want to receive their order. For example, you’ll let them buy online for in-store pickup or home delivery. Alternatively, you’ll let them buy the same product in the store, or try the product in a showroom for home-delivery. On the other hand, the consumer just wants an experience that meets their expectations. If you create a customer experience that keeps them coming back. In fact, that’s why many retailers already invest in the systems and capabilities to go omnichannel.

How Consumers Behave

As one writer puts it, the omnichannel is customer behavior. Specifically, they don’t distinguish one sales channel from another. Thus, eCommerce, social media engagement, physical stores are all just shopping to them. Ultimately, competition for these consumers will drive multichannel businesses to adapt for the omnichannel.

Where They Will Spend in 2018

Consumer spending will continue to shift online. For example, in the UK, in-store transactions have fallen at the highest rate in five years. Moreover, 31% of surveyed shoppers there expect to spend more online in 2018 than this year. Meanwhile, in the US, if recent trends continue, eCommerce sales growth will once again outpace in-store sales growth next year.

The Critical Role of Brick-and-Mortar

While spending shifts to online retail, many see the bulk of customer sales to continue in stores. As in-store sales continue to grow (albeit at a lower rate than online), trends point to the importance of the brick-and-mortar piece of the omnichannel. In fact, pure-play online businesses will continue to go omnichannel in 2018 with showroom and experience retail.

Wholesalers Do It, Too

While distinctions between channels fall by the wayside in retail, so do the bright lines dim between retail and wholesale. Increasingly, many brands do both, in no small part thanks to technology. Meanwhile, technology also sees B2B purchasers behave more like B2C consumers, and brands with wholesale channels go omnichannel to meet their expectations, as well.

The Tools to Go Omnichannel

If the omnichannel is about seamless integration of channels to match customer expectation, a business needs tools to manage stock levels, process orders and handle fulfillment in a cohesive, unified platform. In fact, it’s so important that IDC predicts 50% of retailers will adopt a platform for the omnichannel by the end of 2018. These businesses will adopt a platform that integrates brick-and-mortar, eCommerce and wholesale channels with the logistics, warehouse and fulfillment processes to meet customer demand.  

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