Trending at eTail: The "omnicustomer" experience

Omnichannel evolves at eTail
Everyone knows that creating a consistent omnichannel strategy is important to retailers. According to the Harvard Business Review, 20 percent of our sales will soon come from digital retailing—and 80 percent of our sales will be heavily influenced by it. So creating loyal omnichannel customers has never been more important for retailers.

While at eTail West, I noticed that many business leaders are beginning to reject the word “omnichannel” in search of a word that more accurately defines today’s customers and their need for a fast, efficient and seamless customer experience.

The customer's perspective
Most retailers will tell you they have an omnichannel strategy, but would the shopper agree? Ask any consumer and they’ll tell you they have no idea what “omnichannel” means—and why should they? Quite simply, customers want a shopping experience that is as integrated as their digital and social experiences—unconsciously seamless.

When you look at things from the consumer’s point of view, you could argue that most retailers are falling short of a seamless experience and know they need to do more. Brick-and-mortar retailers began their online journeys with the single goal of transacting with their customers.

But technology has evolved quickly, and shoppers have become more engaged with increasingly new channels—each with unique operational needs that require different platforms and tools—and few that have been fully integrated for a true omnichannel experience.

Because these channels were developed with little thought about how they would interact with today's technology and social behaviors, large disconnects exist—leaving either the customer or salesperson to find ways to make connections and fill in the gaps. The experience isn’t seamless, but many customers were willing to accept the dysfunction. However, the current tech savvy customer no longer has the patience to bridge these gaps.

Gone are the days of the "build it and they will come" channel retailing. The Millennial shoppers want their shopping experience to be on their terms, and they demand convenient and intuitive shopping experiences that include digital apps and experiences that are personalized and integrated into their lives.

Enter the "blended omnicustomer experience"
Retailers who embrace this trend and are able to effectively build a new customer-centric shopping model will leap ahead. They must design their businesses from the inside out to create a personalized shopping experience—and often this requires substantial effort and redesign.