Omnichannel refers to the simultaneous interaction between companies and customers via multiple sales channels. This new market trend — which has meant structural changes for organizations and is already a reality in many companies — places the customer at the centre of the transaction to guarantee the best possible shopping experience.
In this post, we focus on how omnichannel has revolutionized purchasing processes and analyze the impact of this new paradigm on warehousing logistics.
Omnichannel: what’s it all about?
The term omnichannel — a combination of the Latin prefix “omni” (meaning “all”) and the word “channel” — is used to define the process whereby customers communicate with businesses through different channels simultaneously. The omnichannel experience offers consumers the possibility to combine multiple means of communication with the company, configuring a unique and completely personalized purchasing process.
For instance: a customer sees a shirt on a marketplace and then buys it via the company’s webpage, choosing the same-day home delivery option. Upon receiving the shirt, the customer realizes it’s the wrong size. So, they go to the closest physical shop and exchange it there. This example is just one of the ways the omnichannel circuit can manifest itself.
The ease with which the customer can purchase a product contrasts with the challenges that omnichannel sales pose for the vendor, who’s compelled to ensure the best consumer experience in any of its channels. This new scenario is geared towards personalized purchases, putting the customer at the heart of the entire sales strategy.
Although omnichannel directly involves units such as the sales and customer service departments, this idea needs to be implemented throughout the entire company. It’s particularly important in the logistics department, especially when taking into account consumer demands that have now become the norm, such as same-day deliveries and free returns.
Omnichannel, cross-channel, and multichannel: what’s the difference?
The implementation of multiple communication channels between the customer and the company isn’t an exclusive omnichannel feature; it’s also part of multichannel and cross-channel strategies. So, what are the differences between the three?
- The multichannel approach provides customers with multiple sales/communication channels, from social media and e-commerce platforms to the companies’ own pages on marketplaces or an extensive network of physical stores. These channels, however, aren’t interconnected.
- The cross-channel model promotes a complementary relationship between the different sales channels, allowing the customer to jump from one channel to another: their shopping experience, for example, can combine the purchase of the product via an e-commerce platform with an in-store pickup. But this integration isn’t complete or seamless all the time.
- Omnichannel takes the other two strategies to the next level. To put the customer centre stage, the company integrates all its communication channels to ensure better service and optimise the purchasing experience.
Implementing an omnichannel strategy calls for all the organization’s departments to be synced to offer an individualized and consistent shopping experience, regardless of the communication channels the customer uses. In this sense, all the company’s divisions have to be coordinated like clockwork so that customers receive consistent messages that convey trust and confidence.
An omnichannel business model makes it possible to:
- Increase profits. Integration of all the communication channels ensures that stock is always available and broadens market knowledge, resulting in increased sales.
- Improve customer perception. Fully integrating interactions between the company and the customer enhances the consumer experience. Customer feedback provides businesses with extremely useful information that enables them to improve their service and, thus, their brand image.
- Adapt to the market. Omnichannel allows the company to adjust more quickly and efficiently to the new trends followed by its customers, who demand interconnection through multiple communication channels.
So, as we can see, having complete control over the purchasing process strengthens the relationship with the customer, which normally results in more sales and, above all, greater satisfaction.
Adapting your warehouse to omnichannel
The retail and e-commerce sectors have been trailblazers in implementing the omnichannel approach. In fact, in recent years, this market trend has taken root in most B2C firms.
The omnichannel boom affects logistics planning, which needs to be perfectly in tune with all company departments, from sales and marketing to management. This necessary interconnection boosts warehouse productivity and, in particular, eliminates logistics cost overruns.
Likewise, the omnichannel strategy calls for flexible warehouses able to adjust to market seasonality. Additionally, logistics facilities must have tight control over stock, not only in the warehouse itself, but also in the various brick-and-mortar stores and/or distribution centres.
All these challenges are becoming even more complex, especially when facing unexpected rises in demand. Therefore, many warehouses implement automated solutions for repetitive tasks, such as product slotting and retrieval and inventory management.
In this vein, being equipped with a powerful warehouse management system ensures automated control of stock and of all processes taking place in the facility, from the moment the user clicks “purchase” until the product arrives at their home.
Easy WMS, the WMs from Mecalux, features multiple solutions for facilitating productivity and efficiency in an omnichannel warehouse. For instance, the Marketplaces & Ecommerce Platforms Integration syncs the stock in the warehouse with that of the different online sales points. Meanwhile, the Store Fulfillment module coordinates the warehouse inventory with that of the company’s physical stores, and the Multi Carrier Shipping Software module connects the WMS with the software of the national and international transportation agencies.
Omnichannel: a new business/customer relationship
The omnichannel revolution has impacted most retail and e-commerce companies in one way or another, since nowadays, customers demand maximum interconnection with their suppliers. From product returns to stock management across multiple warehouses, the omnichannel environment has made all logistics operations more complex.
The response to all these challenges lies in process automation. A warehouse management system such as Easy WMS from Mecalux offers a wide range of advanced functionalities that optimise productivity and efficiency in an omnichannel business. Be sure to get in touch. One of our expert consultants will analyze your operations to determine the best solution for your business.