The 10 Commandments Of The Omni-Channel Retailer
January 2013 Integrated Solutions For Retailers
By Matt Pillar, editor in chief
In its recent report, The Multi-Channel Retailer’s Reality in a Post- Amazon World: Benchmark Report 2012, Retail Systems Research (RSR) found that 58% of retailers strongly agreed that the future of online commerce lies with cross-channel or merged-channel capabilities. That’s up from only 37% strong agreement in 2011. The omni-channel tide is certainly rising, and its implications on the way you engage customers, manage inventory, and transact will be of biblical proportions.
RSR’s research found that good retailers have a significant head start on their omnichannel platform development. With apologies to God and Moses, we present the Ten Commandments of the omni-channel retailer, and we hold these words to be true not because they were prophesied by an ERP vendor or software provider, but because RSR’s research tells us that leading retailers have proven them so.
- Thou shalt not create false likenesses of omni-channel retail through hodgepodge, crosschannel integration. Truth in omni-channel visibility will prevail; false omni-channel idols will bear the burden of their iniquities for generations of store systems to come.
- Thou shalt not take the name of omni-channel platforms in vain. The consumer will not hold guiltless the retailer who professes cross-channel customer and inventory centricity but fails in its execution.
- Remember the customer regardless of channel; keep her holy.
- Honor thy channels, that they might lift each other up and bear the fruit of profit expectations.
- Thou shalt not murder inventory at the hands of its poor performance in a single channel, thus encumbering the holistic view of inventory standing and sales performance across all.
- Thou shalt not commit channel adultery; omni-channel is a lifelong commitment, whether manifest online, in person, on the phone, or by mail, in sickness and in health.
- Thou shalt not steal from one channel at the expense of another. In all things omnichannel, there are no secret silos of data, be they inventory, customer, or otherwise.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against your e-commerce customer; fairness, consistency, and transparency in pricing, availability, and fulfillment shall prevail.
- Thy e-commerce team shalt not covet thy store’s sales, regardless of the customer’s chosen fulfillment channel. Whether consummated via clicks and credit or cash and carry, the sale shall be a sale.
- Thou shalt not covet thy competitor’s omni-channel strategy; competitive differentiation shall be original, never copied or stolen.
Much like the original Ten Commandments, these are easier to agree with than they are to live. And much like the originals, the consequences of ignoring them are grave. We’ll conclude with a powerful quote to contemplate from RSR report authors Steve Rowen and Paula Rosenblum: “Most of us will sell our products in both stores and digital channels. We’ll need visibility into orders, customers, inventory, and product features/benefits pretty much everywhere. We’ll need to consummate sales in ever more channels. This leads us to a notion we never thought we’d have — that POS as a distinct and separate technology may well be dying, at least for everyone but high-volume, low dollar value retailers. ... We recommend that you start contemplating what your next-generation POS system should look like. Three-quarters of our respondents believe the future is in a converged platform. But we’re not sure they’ve actually contemplated the implications of that.”