IN today’s ever changing Namibian shopping landscape, retail clients are beginning to embrace the notion of shopping from anywhere at any time and more so, the proliferation of technology-driven purchasing means retailers are expected to keep up with the always-connected, digital-savvy shoppers.
On the other hand, pressure is mounting on all retailers to provide an excellent customer experience, every time. Consumers are increasingly channel-blind – they just want a good shopping experience. At the heart of solving this challenge is providing omnichannel retail. Put simply, omnichannel is defined as an approach to sales that aligns in-store, online and digital logistics and platforms. This, in turn, provides consumers and businesses with a fully-integrated experience.
Omnichannel has long topped the list of things to implement to keep up among the big players in retail; yet it is still to be adopted by some retailers in Namibia. This must change as customers want a more personalised experience. With the ever-evolving technology landscape, one size fits all planning strategies must be thrown out and replaced with an agile, flexible approach.
One key technology here is the Internet of Things (IoT). Retailers are investing in IoT technologies to drive omnichannel. They are embracing IoT platforms wholeheartedly with a view to transform real-time, visibility-driven data throughout the supply chain into actionable insights.
IoT has the power to transform how we shop. In today’s omnichannel world, product availability is critical, and many retailers have in-store inventory visibility challenges. Technological advancements in areas such as machine vision, radio frequency identification (RFID) and data analytics – underpinned by IoT – are enabling more advanced operational visibility by allowing retail inventory to be “seen” and connected by both staff and consumers alike.
At the heart of IoT lies the importance of mobile devices. These are becoming vital to consumer interaction, as companies can personalise the way they do business. Enterprises can build profiles around their customers about how they have done business with them in the past: profiles that provide insights into their on-going customer relationships.
In retail, IoT can bring this personalised, customer mobile experience to life in omnichannel operations. Based on customer activity, retailers can find out when their customers enter a store if they opt-in online, connect them to staff best suited to assist, locate them in the actual store, or send notifications when they arrive to pick up a product ordered online, among many other useful applications.
It’s all interconnected: shoppers may start out by contacting the retailer via phone and then end up in the store or communicating via chat, e-mail or social media. In summary, omnichannel brings all these lines of communication together for a more seamless customer experience, ultimately driving sales.
The shift to IoT technologies is an industry imperative in Namibia to keep step with the shopping habits and expectations of consumers reshaped by the tech revolution that’s still unfurling.
Today’s retailers are citing the integration of e-commerce and in-store experiences, and the fulfilment and delivery of online and in-store purchases, as critical strategic goals.
The makeover of retail operation platforms today is critical to building a holistic view with harmonised, real-time capability. Those who try to cut corners on the required digital tools will find themselves swiftly and brutally left behind.
Due to the ever-continuous, explosive growth and interconnectedness of digital platforms, it will get easier for shoppers to determine those retailers that are not doing enough in this category. Therefore, retailers should prepare to invest in omnichannel in 2018 or risk missing out on sales and customer satisfaction.
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