Last week we introduced a new series of blog posts on MyBusiness.com.au on 4 key retail trends most likely to affect SME’s. Each week we will look at how we can translate those ‘trends’ into actionable implementation strategies to maximise profitability and growth within your business and improve what we like to call your ‘business fitness™’.

Moving on from last week’s topic of mobile, this week we break down the term ‘Omni channel’ – retail’s buzz word of the moment. Omni channel retailing ensures a flexible and seamless shopping experience to consumers, whether they reach your business via a physical store, website or digitally via a mobile device. Often SME’s ask us, how to implement an omni channel strategy, but retailers should not only consider omni channel as a strategy but as a mindset. ‘Fit’ Omni Channel retailers take a holistic approach to Omni Channel, aligning their entire operations from marketing to recruitment, and distribution to IT.  This mindset should become a culture within your organisation, promoted by the company’s executive leadership to truly get all departments aligned.

At the centre of being a ‘fit’ omni channel retailer is acknowledging the many different journey’s customers may have to reach your brand, and being able to connect with them on all those different journeys. So where does an SME begin? 

·         Nearly 80% of consumers interact with brands or products through digital before arriving at the physical stores so which decision points are your customers using digital and how? Are they using retail-provided sites/apps or third party sites/apps?

·         Re-evaluate your portfolio of retail sites and make the most of stores as part of the omni channel experience – from enhancing the store experience with technology, or adapting some stores to be used as collection points. The brick and mortar store is still where over 92% of shopping is conducted, so embrace the store using inspiration, excitement, and discovery, building on the human experience of what it is to be human.

·         Utilise data to engage along the journey. If you’re a start-up business or SME, you don’t even need a big data management system to gather vital data about your customers. In store, do you collect email addresses or any contact details on transaction? From this do you send email newsletters or marketing material? Have you explored these analytics? By simply seeing who’s opening what topics, and click through rates, you are instantly gathering vital information about your customers.

·         Look at your social media platforms to explore the growth of communities. Who’s engaging? Why? What content is attracting them most? This data can then be utilised to enhance the experiences on all channels.

When you look at your retail store, start thinking about the pre, during and post-sale relationship with your consumer; and focus on this term ‘relationship’. Retailers should no longer see sales as a single transaction; a customer should be for life, so always consider building on that relationship and aim to compete for a position in the consideration set earlier in the customer journey. The digitally-enabled path to purchase is truly not just about the ‘buy’ button anymore.

The Retail Doctor Group team are always keen to hear your views on Omni Channel retailing and how it may be affecting your business. Call the team on 0294602882 for a complimentary discussion about how embracing Omni Channel may improve your Business Fitness™.

First published on MyBusiness.com on 1st October 2015