Retail & Distribution

Making The Store An Omnichannel Hub

13 February 2019

3 min
Stores have come a long way in a short time. Not long ago, headlines were sounding the death knell for physical retail. Then they got a second chance as forward locations to facilitate fast digital delivery. Now, with ever more digital pure-plays opening brick and mortar locations and retailers investing heavily in transforming the shopping experience, stores are being recognized for their true potential as hubs of omnichannel commerce.

Newly transformed stores are ushering in changes in how consumers interact with retail brands, providing a more personal, engaging brand experience. With this in mind, retailers are unveiling all sorts of new models such as Target Open House, Amazon’s cashierless Amazon Go store or stock-free stores such as Bonobos’ Guideshops. Stores are becoming service centers where customers don’t just buy products. At fitness apparel retailer Bandier’s new concept features a fitness studio and café, allowing customers to test the latest running gear on treadmills, take a shower and enjoy a moisturizing facemasks.

The store’s new omnichannel role requires much more from legacy POS systems, which were designed to support store-only transactions. According to Gartner, “Digital-business-ready POS applications are an integral part of comprehensive unified commerce platforms. Retail CIOs need a digital-business-ready POS solution to deliver a comprehensive experience to customers across a retailer’s ecosystem.”


Building The Omnichannel Hub

New omnichannel store solutions – particularly those aimed at the mid-market — share some basics in common, such as open, SOA architecture and a trend toward SaaS-based solutions. But not all are capable of uniting the many components of a retail organization, breaking down barriers to help them become truly collaborative across the entire enterprise. But that is key to position retailers for the increasingly real-time, agile requirements of next-gen retail.

Retailers seeking a platform to enable this next-gen approach should look for these critical capabilities:

  • Enables delivery of new omnichannel services in store. Fulfilling digital orders from store inventory was just the beginning. Next-gen stores are about more than products, they are about experiences – trying products, taking part in events, receiving services. It’s click and collect, but it’s also accessing inventory in other locations, virtually connecting stores with offsite experts or talent, booking in-store appointments, sharing who-wore-it-best posts. Digital and physical will continue to blend, and the underlying systems must make that possible.
  • Offers clienteling capabilities to personalize consumer experiences. According to Forrester, “Personalization is no longer optional for delivering exceptional customer experiences.” Retailers agree: 72% see personalizing the customer experience as the biggest opportunity to improve the customer experience. Personalization requires store associates and device have real-time access to data such as customer history and preferences, omnichannel transaction history, contact center history, and personalized offers. An omnichannel-based POS system serves as the conduit for this key data.
  • Facilitating omnichannel collaboration. Traditionally, communication with stores has been largely one-directional, with headquarters pushing requirements to stores, but allowing few options for feedback. But to make the omnichannel model succeed, stores and headquarters staff must collaborate in real-time to service customers, test ideas and serve customers. This includes:
    • Feedback on test-and-learn products and concepts
    • Accessing product experts across the enterprise to respond to customer questions
    • Sharing best practices and ideas
    • Collecting data and insights that formerly required corporate store visits
    • Communication and prioritization queries about store tasks
      Promotion and display compliance
    • Coordinating end executing events

More than ever retailers have to present one consistent brand experience no matter how a customer engages. Real-time collaboration is an essential part of making omnichannel succeed, and the right POS enables that collaboration.

  • Driving a more seamless, productive in-store experience. Digital experiences have raised consumer expectations in store: they seek instant information, easy navigation and a personalized experience. Retailers are working hard to get those in place. According to Retail TouchPoints’ Store Operations Survey:
  • 67% using devices to access inventory levels/product availability
  • 64% accessing product information
  • 43% of retailers are already using mobile devices for clienteling/assisted selling
  • The right POS platform enables a satisfying in-store experience by facilitating access to this data in real-time to devices and associates. As associates shift increasingly into a sales role, retailers will also look to the POS to provide feedback and incentives to individual associates to drive momentum toward revenue and service goals.

Accenture says the store of the future is “no longer about merely a product purchase, but is a rich, engaging and specialized experience driven by innovative business models. Retail is reimagined and shopping is an experience full of discovery and excitement.” Now is the time for retailers to put the building blocks in place, by replacing legacy POS with omnichannel-centric POS solutions that meet the real-time, agile requirements of next-gen retail.

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