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omnichannel

5 key elements to awaken the omnichannel force

28 Dec 2015
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Why would a retailer adopt an omnichannel approach, one requiring significant investment in point-of-sale and data analytics technology?

Omnichannel is a multichannel approach to sales that seeks to provide the customer with a seamless shopping experience whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a traditional bricks and mortar store.

From a retail perspective who better to prove the worth of omnichannel than Walmart? The world’s largest retailer generating annual revenues in excess of $480 billion.

Walmart’s plan, quoted here in Forbes.com, shows the value of embracing the omnichannel revolution: According to Walmart, an average store-only customer spends approximately $1,400 a year at its stores, compared to $200 among online-only customers. However, customers who shop through multiple channels spend $2,500 a year.

The bottom line? To go ‘omnichannel’ is more than ‘worth it’; it’s a significant revenue generator.

The singular route is no longer a choice.

Today’s bank, for example, cannot survive successfully operating isolated customer channels only. Channel integration (i.e. in branch, online in app etc.) is critical to its future success because that is what the customer demands. Breaking down the barriers that divide existing banking platforms such as ATM and branch, call centre, online, and phone is a necessary challenge. The results of this ‘break-down’ will provide a 360-degree snapshot of customer behaviour and the data will enable the bank to streamline and tailor their services in a more personalised manner.

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The customer demands a smooth and frictionless relationship with their merchant or bank. This experience needs to be constructed to be seamless and connected – a fragmented, isolated proposition is the death knell for omnichannel.

In order to successfully achieve this, certain considerations must be taken into account – here are five key elements required to awaken the mighty omnichannel force:

1. Mobile

There are 3.4 billion smartphones worldwide. By 2018, 50% of consumers will use smartphones, or wearables, to make payments at the point-of-sale via mobile wallets or in-app purchasing. Any omnichannel strategy adopted by a merchant or their acquiring bank needs to be leveraged to reflect this and future trends in consumer purchasing habits. The rise of push notifications and the use of beacons have been as meteoric as smartphone sales. How do they complement one another? The key is that the use of retail beacons requires the potential customer’s ‘opt-in’. This is a major plus as they are then less intrusive, and also protect privacy. Once the potential customer ‘opts–in’ they automatically grant permission to receive push notifications including such as discounts, sales, and loyalty offers, to be sent to their smartphone typically via Bluetooth low energy signals when they are in the vicinity of a physical store. Despite the fact that 2015 hasn’t been the year expected by Apple Pay with consumer adoption lagging all forecasts, the mobile payments revolution is FINALLY here. There is a wealth of data available to the merchant when they can understand the consumer’s mobile behaviour and plenty of scope among retailers to integrate more mobile offerings to their omnichannel strategy. Surprisingly, however, in recent Statista research only 14% of U.S. omnichannel retailers said they planned to use beacons as part of their in-store omnichannel experience.

2. Data

Undoubtedly, data, or more importantly, consumer data, is one of the most valuable tools in maximising growth and revenue potential. An industry such as banking has a significant head-start in this area with a wealth of rich consumer data readily available. Simply having access to this data is not sufficient, however, it needs context and this is where a unified omnichannel strategy can deliver exceptional results. An omnichannel approach in the banking context does just that by enabling a bank to assess customer habits across the spectrum of banking platforms from in-branch transactions; in-app behaviour; online activity, and ATM use. An understanding of this customer behaviour allows the bank to provide tailored options and solutions building valued relationships between bank and customer. Banks need to unlock the riches of their customers’ data before someone else does, a pressing task given certain banking industry regulatory changes, such as the second payment services directive (PSD2) in the EU. This directive compels banks to provide access to accounts once the customer has given the green light. It will open up this prized data to third parties, all ready to mine for key insights into customer behaviour.

3. Cloud

We ticked the mobile and data boxes but how are these elements fused to create a more wholesome customer experience? Enter the cloud. Use of cloud technology in the omnichannel context is crucial: it creates the setting for consistency of experience, used to unite all consumer touch points with bank or merchant. The cloud is the avenue where the amalgamation of a bank’s various platforms occurs, typically via the introduction and use of APIs. Take, for example, the point-of-purchase. This retail touch point is becoming increasingly varied: there’s the traditional POS, mPOS, online, and in-app. Today user behaviour before, during, and post-payment needs to be tracked and analysed – a cloud-hosted platform provides the means to achieve this visibility of key consumer habits across all points-of-purchase. 

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4. Real-time

Real-time payments, real-time feedback, real-time engagement, and real-time experience tracking. In the digital world of more and more data, security and privacy are paramount to the consumer. The omnichannel route combining mobile, data, and cloud technology allows retailers and their acquiring banks to capture and process transaction data in real-time and in a secure manner. This ability to rapidly crunch the numbers within the omnichannel environment adds to the frictionless pathway. It allows back-end systems to quickly complement the front-end process to engage with the customer in a more meaningful way. Soon after a purchase, a customer could receive a push notification (that they have opted to receive) about upcoming offers in the same store or online offers related to related products. All thanks to the real-time processing of transaction data, enabled by the customer’s permission thus having little or no impact on their data’s security and their own privacy.

5. Personalization

In a recent SAP paper: ‘A vision for omnichannel banking’ the point was made, “to effectively market and sell additional revenue generating products to the customer, banks need insight into past interactions; customer preferences; and an up-to-date, 360-degree view of the customer. This requires a common customer touch-point platform and real-time insight into the customer.” This is the omnichannel platform, but it is one that must be based on an insight into the personal banking journey of the customer. An omnichannel strategy aids this process by enabling banks to tailor the banking experience to the needs of the customer – not the reverse. Omnichannel looks at the trends of the consumer to personalise the retail and banking process. These trends dictate the omnichannel approach. Personalization, in turn, builds customer loyalty and leads to a vastly improved customer experience.

When unlocked, the rich potential of an omnichannel experience is ripe with possibilities, not least the possibility of generating increased revenue. Remember, just as Yoda said: “Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.

Fexco Transaction Services uses the latest payment device and transaction integration technology to bring together payment sources from both physical and remote environments resulting in a truly omnichannel solution. Please contact us to discuss your payment transaction needs.

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