Omnichannel retailing describes a retailer’s efforts to provide a consistent, coordinated customer experience across all possible customer channels, using consistent, universal data.
Today’s retailers increasingly recognize that new media, including web, mobile devices, and social media, have given customers a wide array of new channels through which they research products, make purchases, and give feedback. Omnichannel retailing describes the ways in which these companies attempt to contain and leverage these multiple channels to improve the customer relationship, create more effective outreach, and increase share of wallet.
Omnichannel retailing is similar to multi-channel retailing but generally entails a broader vision of the opportunity. Whereas multi-channel retailing is about increasing the number of supported channels, omnichannel retailing focuses on data- and infrastructure-readiness to deliver a holistic view of the customer relationship on any channel at any time.
The difficulty for retailers lies in having a single consistent source of data available to customers, regardless of how they contact the retailer. Methods of contact include smartphones, web pages, brick-and-mortar stores, pop-up shops, phone sales, catalogs, and so on. These channels usually utilize disparate systems without built-in data integration. The retailer must create a holistic view of the customer and make sure that product and account data is the same on every channel.
Retailers must break down data silos in their retail channels and have data integration requirements in mind whenever a new system is added to a channel’s operations. Data needs to be normalized and made universally available to all channel systems. A strong product information management practice can help retailers create quality, consistent data that works on all customer channels.