Thanks to the disruption that the Internet, mobile phones, and social media are all bringing to the shopping experience retail is at a reset moment. It means the entire supply chain — retailers, suppliers, and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) — has to become more efficient, competitive, and knowledgeable to be able attract and keep customers.



It’s what is called the omnichannel, and it’s changing everything about shopping.

The omnichannel covers the experience shoppers have with retailers through two or more ways — online, in the store, customer service, and even shipping. People expect to have the same experience in a store as they do when shopping online. Here’s how you make it happen.

Today’s online retailers can offer anything and everything a supplier has available — different sizes, different colors, different specs. This is the Endless Aisle. When a shopper shows up at the retailer’s store in person, they still expect to see anything and everything they’re looking for, only to find the store has neither their size or their favorite color.

This is giving retailers pause for concern. In our recent Retail Insight Benchmark Report, 63 percent of retail professionals surveyed said that inventory availability was one of their top three business challenges.

Interested in hearing from industry experts and retail organizations excelling in the omnichannel? Register now to attend SPS Commerce Recon 2014 this May.

Thanks to the transparency and ease of online shopping, customers are also expecting competitive pricing, easy-to-find product information, and as much product data and information as the retailers can provide. This level of information expectation is also reaching into the stores, as shoppers expect associates to have that level of information at hand as easily as the shopper can find it online.

Despite the perceived problems some retailers and suppliers (and even 3PLs) may see with the omnichannel, this can ultimately be great news for everyone involved. The first retailers who can provide a differentiation and a full omnichannel experience to their shoppers will be able to turn their customers into loyal advocates. They’ll become loyal through effective customer service and good information, rather than focusing just on price breaks.

Based on our past experience, research and the findings in the Retail Insight Benchmark Report, we see more than 90 percent of companies are just starting to plot and execute their omnichannel strategies. They’re right at the beginning stages of implementation and are beginning to work with each other to provide shoppers with consistent experiences. But as new technologies and relationships arise, and companies like SPS Commerce continue to innovate and educate in this sector, companies will continue adapting to the customers’ omnichannel expectations.

Photo credit: St. Clair Interactive

Via Venture Beat