What is omni channel retailing? Exploring Omni Channel Strategies in the Retailing Sector during the COVID -19 Pandemic Era

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  • Introduction

    New technologies such as smart mobile devices and social networks have created new solutions and opportunities for retailers. The online channel is an efficient and effective business model which is commonly used in retail to attract customers via digital platforms.

    Retailers around the globe including XYZ Company have begun to develop and implement the Omni-Channel strategies which interact with customers and consumers.

    This blog aims to discuss developments that disrupt the retailing business through digital marketing. Furthermore, this blog discusses the key drivers, challenges, and strategies for the Omni-Channel marketing landscape based on the XYZ case study. 

    What is Omni-Channel Marketing?  

    Omni-Channel Marketing is the combination of all digital shopping platforms which provide a constant customer experience (Groeger & Buttle, 2016). Omni-Channel customers are transferred freely between the online, mobile devices and physical stores.

    However, some of the shopping channels that the consumers enjoy, including but are not limited to: a physical visit to the store, electronic commerce, electronic reading reviews and electronic blogs which shows different products in the shop (Groeger & Buttle, 2016). 

    A brief summary of key drivers related to the Omni-Channel Marketing Strategies 

    At XYZ company customers prefer the clicks (digitalization) rather than the brick-and-mortar retailing. This assertion on clicks is supported by Bendoly et al. (2005). According to Simone & Sabbadin (2017), there are key drivers and challenges related to the Omni-Channel (See Figure 1.1). 

    omni channel

    Figure 1.1: Key Drivers and Challenges for Omni-Channel Retailing Strategies

    Source: Adapted from Simone & Sabbadin, (2017)

    The Omni-Channel is prompted with technology development, digital disruption and augmented by the integration of internet channels that promote customer experience (Simone & Sabbadin, 2017). 

    The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Power of Mobile generate mediators which results in innovative economies of sharing through a combination of e-commerce. This platform increases transparency, flexibility, information sharing, customer demand and accessibility which increases customer loyalty (Bendoly et al., 2005).  

    Main challenges associated with the Omni-Channel Retail Marketing  

    Omni-Channel Marketing is preferred as the best digital marketing approach. However, there are challenges related to this approach. Santoro (2018) argues that channel change and integration may result in opportunities and threats that may enhance or destroy the retailing industry.

    It has been evidenced that the retailing sector faces a challenge of adopting a business model of one-size-fits-all consumer centricity which is inclusive of the rick-and-mortar (Simone & Sabbadin, 2017).

    Scholars such as (Strang, 2013 & Santoro et al., 2018) pointed out that there are five major problems related to effective management of the omni-channel environment which includes: data integration, coordination of strategies, channel evaluation, allocation of resources and consumer behaviour patterns.

    According to Bendoly et al. (2005) majority of the proponents of omni-channel believe that it is complex to manage and implement the operations and supply chain as they need to invest in advanced technological infrastructures. The omni-channel retail may face some challenges related to the implementation of financial technology innovations which may lead to cybercrime and fraud if they are not managed effectively and efficiently (Simone & Sabbadin, 2017). 

    Recommendations and lessons learnt from Omni-channel retail marketing.

    Scholars such as (Parise et al., 2016 and Lazaris & Vrechopoulos, 2014) are of the view that an in-store technology could be used as a virtual agent which takes the form of live experts that connect with the customers through video conferencing, interact with the customer through the smartphone applications or augmented reality technology. 

    Proponents of Omni-Channel Marketing such as (Juaneda- Ayensa et al., 2016: Lazaris & Vrechopoulos, 2014 and Parise et al., 2016) postulate that in order for retailers to manage technology in their physical stores through interaction with customers, the in-store technology should be practical, enjoyable, and interesting which improve the customers’ overall shopping experience. 

    Shollo & Galliers, (2016) and Stone & Woodcock, (2014) argue that retailing sector should embrace a business intelligence system that converts unprocessed big data into valuable business information. Customer relationship management (CRM) is defined as the course of action which increases customers’ satisfaction levels and loyalty (Demko-Rihter & Ter Halle, 2015).

    According to Hasan (2018), CRM is a key component in achieving the integrated Omni-channel vision. Parise et al., (2016) pointed out that retailers should break the silos in order to enhance the Omni -channel supply chain eco-system. 

                                                                                                                             

    Conclusion

    Finally, for Omni-Channel Retail Marketing to be successful during the COVID-19 Era, the senior management in the retailing sector including XYZ, should embrace the following: Personalized Services; In-store Experience; Technology – Artificial Intelligence (AI), The Augmented Reality (AR) and The Virtual Reality (VR), Re-Skilling Staff, Customer Insight and Digitalization-Chatbots.

    Therefore, in this context, the XYZ company managed to attract customers during the COVID-19 Era, through embracing a business model which incorporates Omni-Channel Retailing Marketing Strategies. 

    References:

    Bendoly, E., Blocher, J.D., Bretthauer, K.M., Krishnan, S. and Venkataramanan, M.A., 2005. Online/in-store integration and customer retention. Journal of Service Research7(4), pp.313-327.

    Demko-Rihter, J. and Ter Halle, I., 2015. Revival of high street retailing–the added value of shopping apps. Amfiteatru Economic Journal17(39), pp.632-645.

    Groeger, L. and Buttle, F., 2016. Deciphering word-of-mouth marketing campaign reach: Everyday conversation versus institutionalized word of mouth. Journal of Advertising Research56(4), pp.368-384.

    Hasan, A.A.T., 2018. Customer relationship management (CRM) practices of City Bank in customer retention perspective in Bangladesh. Global Journal of Management and Business Research1, pp. 19-31.

    Juaneda-Ayensa, E., Mosquera, A. and Sierra Murillo, Y., 2016. Omni channel customer behaviour: key drivers of technology acceptance and use and their effects on purchase intention. Frontiers in Psychology7, p. 1117.

    Lazaris, C. and Vrechopoulos, A., 2014, June. From multi-channel to “omnichannel” retailing: a review of the literature and calls for research. In 2nd International Conference on Contemporary Marketing Issues, (ICCMI) (Vol. 6, pp. 1-6).

    Parise, S., Guinan, P.J. and Kafka, R., 2016. Solving the crisis of immediacy: How digital technology can transform the customer experience. Business Horizons59(4), pp. 411-420.

    Santoro, G., Vrontis, D., Thrassou, A. and Dezi, L., 2018. The Internet of Things: Building a knowledge management system for open innovation and knowledge management capacity. Technological forecasting and social change136, pp. 347-354.

    Shollo, A. and Galliers, R.D., 2016. Towards an understanding of the role of business intelligence systems in organisational knowing. Information Systems Journal26(4), pp. 339-367.

    Simone, A. and Sabbadin, E., 2017. The new paradigm of omnichannel retailing: key drivers, new challenges and potential outcomes resulting from the adoption of an omnichannel approach. International Journal of Business and Management13(1), p. 85.

    Stone, M.D. and Woodcock, N.D., 2014. Interactive, direct and digital marketing: A future that depends on better use of business intelligence. Journal of research in interactive marketing.

    Strang, R., 2013. Retail without boundaries. Supply Chain Management Review17(6).

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