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Reality hits omnichannel retail with a hard truth – RetailWire

Reality hits omnichannel retail with a hard truth – RetailWire
Written by publishing team

January 11 2022

Does the customer really care who handles their purchases, customer service questions, or returns as long as it’s fast and convenient? Is a consolidated back-end process operated by a single entity the key determinant of loyalty in 2022?

After purchasing an item from recently and returning it to the FedEx office closest to my home from the nearest Walmart store, I’d say no to both of these questions. Walmart’s willingness to “extract” this aspect of product returns points to an opportunity beyond traditional operating models.

The same can be said of major stores that are breaking off from their e-commerce business. Many retail experts are horrified at what appears to be a regressive step in the pursuit of a unified customer experience.

Some fear competition for customers between the previously unified store and e-commerce operations. Others see stores becoming simple distribution centers optimized to support digital sales and revenue.

The retail omnichannel problem has been described as operational silos that prevent a smooth customer journey across channels. This was true in the past, but there are factors that are now redefining the inclusive channel.

A software engineering team that focuses on customer experience cares about the in-store experience to the point that it helps customers find, buy, and collect their purchases more efficiently. Nothing in this statement indicates that the Stores should be owned and operated by the same entity. It is a research exercise, not a required business model.

Shopping behaviors have been forever changed by the pandemic, as consumers buy more online. Successful digital operations are a necessity, not an option. These need funding and focus given the rapid pace of innovation and competition.

Speaking of innovation, cloud industry From AWS, Google, Microsoft and others are driving exponential growth in this technology business. It brings best practices, lower costs, and agility to retailers struggling to adapt to constant change, given decades of legacy IT serving as an anchor for digital transformation.

The cloud provides easy access to analytics methods such as artificial intelligence and external data to power disparate experiences across any touchpoint — whether digital or physical. A larger intra-industry partnership and technology and cloud integration strategy will determine the success of the omnichannel in 2022 more than overlapping store and e-commerce operations under one banner.

Discussion Questions: Do customers care who handles their purchases, customer service questions, or returns? Can retailers maintain seamless customer experiences across separate physical and digital processes?


“Active investors are pushing stores like Macy’s and Kohl’s to separate their physical and digital operations, but that doesn’t make much sense.”


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