How to implement omnichannel in retail

Holly Worst | Director of Retail, Worldpay

August 02, 2021

If you’ve heard about omnichannel retail strategies but have questions about whether it’s right for your business, you’ve come to the right place. Too often omnichannel is cloaked in tech talk that obscures the beauty and simplicity of omnichannel approaches.

Let’s go beyond the buzzword to understand what omnichannel is, how it boosts your bottom line and concrete steps on how to implement omnichannel in retail.

What is an omnichannel retail strategy?

Omnichannel strategies simply mean connecting all the different channels where your customers can shop with you, from in-store to online, voice to social media. Omnichannel strategies seek consistent insights about your customers, starting with bringing customer data into a central location.

The challenge is that many retailers start with a tangled web of systems: inventory management, order management, in-store point-of-sale and e-commerce platforms, just to start. Siloed data and systems don’t talk to each other. A store might indicate they’re out of stock even with 100 units in a nearby warehouse. Omnichannel connects warehouse, customer and payments data from all your channels to produce better customer outcomes

Omnichannel retail strategies start with loyal customers and the user journeys they follow most often. A grocer’s best customers may prefer to buy online and pickup in-store (BOPIS) and you can start there. A fashion retailer with a loyal base of young customers that uses their app frequently might turn to scan, pay and go to bring that app experience in-store.

What are examples of omnichannel best practices?

Best practices blend the best of the online and in-store experiences. Buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) and buy online, return in-store (BORIS) were models that were already gaining traction before the pandemic. When COVID-19 hit, delivery suddenly changed from a convenience to a necessity. These user journeys are here to stay because consumers discovered that they’re super convenient.

Buy online return in-store (BORIS) is convenient for customers and a boost for merchants. In-store returns bring your customers back into your store, where additional purchases are likely. Omnichannel approaches introduce tools like incremental authorizations that allow new sales to be added as an extension of the original purchase authorization.

Consumers crave personalized experiences and that’s where omnichannel solutions rise to the occasion. Say you’re a loyal customer of a retailer where you routinely make purchases online. When you visit that retailer’s physical store, they may not know you’re one of their best customers. Omnichannel approaches help overcome that challenge so merchants can offer loyal customers personized service, rewards and deals, no matter where or how they shop.

How is omnichannel implemented?

A critical first step to implement omnichannel is to build the business case, build stakeholder engagement and create buy-in internally that developing a single customer view is valuable. The next step is to develop a single customer view of all your sales and inventory. Then, map out your ecosystem and determine the best path toward having all these systems talk to one another.

Payment partners can help retailers make those connections. Payment experts like Worldpay can help map connections with seamless payment infrastructure for online, in-store and every other emerging channel. Worldpay stands alongside retailer partners from inception of making the business case for omnichannel though systems analysis, implementation and ongoing support.

Leading payment processors offer solution architects who determine how best to implement payments across your organization. Worldpay answers the key questions retailers have with omnichannel: what needs to be implemented, how long it will take and how much will it cost? This analysis results in different solutions and configurations for every retailer, so it’s critical to have a partner that can personalize for your business, just as you do for your customers.

Omnichannel reduces costs by solving inventory challenges and helps retailers improve their customer experiences, making them more loyal to your brand. Omnichannel payment experiences boost revenues by reducing friction at the end of the sales funnel – when everything has to go right.

Implementing omnichannel retail strategies won’t solve all your challenges. Yet its increasingly clear that omnichannel gets to the heart of retailer success: reducing costs and increasing revenue. That’s the beauty and simplicity of omnichannel in a nutshell.