With growing knowledge, power and expectations, Australian consumers continue to dictate the terms of retail engagement.
In response, retailers today are in constant pursuit of the industry’s Holy Grail – delivering a consistent omnichannel brand experience via the desktop, mobile, social media, in-store or over the telephone.
This quest has given rise to a pervasive problem known as fake omnichannel or “fomni.” Fomni is a collection of point solutions stitched together that never truly communicate with each other in real-time or with the consistency needed to execute a true omnichannel experience. Retailers today face an array of these commerce-related software products that promise to provide the type of seamless experiences shoppers now expect, when in fact they don’t live up to expectations.
Given the huge focus on omnichannel, it’s no surprise that so many vendors have draped their existing commerce offerings with an omnichannel cloak. At the same time, many retailers think they can easily adapt their existing systems to provide an omnichannel brand experience, when in fact they’re stuck in the fomni world.
Most consumers have already experienced fomni in a retail environment. A prime example of fomni in action is the disconnect between a retailer’s online and in-store channels. A colleague recently told me about his experience trying to purchase a light fixture on the website of a major indoor lighting chain. He soon realised that ordering online meant it would take over a week to arrive, so he sourced the lighting fixture from the retailer’s local shop and bought it there instead.
He later went back to the retailer’s website and ordered a matching accessory. A few days after the accessory arrived he received an email promotion offering 50 percent off the original light fixture he bought in-store.
In this example, the ecommerce system had no visibility into in-store purchases and demonstrates how fomni can frustrate consumers.
Point solutions stitched together
Trying to run a retail business using a collection of point solutions stitched together can’t give retailers a single view of customer, inventory or order information. Without it, they’ll fail to deliver on rising consumer expectations for a relevant, consistent and personalised experience across every touchpoint. Retailers that continue to operate in the world of fomni will remain at a competitive disadvantage.
Determining whether a solution is truly omnichannel or merely fomni is simple. Look out for these clear signs of fomni:
- Your IT team needs to work closely with marketing to implement new ways to engage with shoppers.
- Shoppers are frustrated with the lack of online visibility of inventory available on your ecommerce site or in-store.
- Your prices are inconsistent across your channels.
- You don’t have visibility into every customer interaction.
- You’re sending out marketing emails, advertising products that aren’t in stock.
- Your sales are declining and you are ceding market share to more digitally adept competitors.
To avoid fomni and to ensure the customer receives a seamless shopping experience, retailers must also re-examine the foundational systems they use to run their business.
Laying a unified foundation
Retailers will never deliver a true omnichannel experience if they simply replace their point-of-sale (POS) or ecommerce system. To enable a true omnichannel brand experience, retailers must ensure the business has a foundation that seamlessly unifies their core business systems, such as customer, inventory, financial and order data, with their customer facing systems. Unfortunately, most businesses have point solutions that are loosely integrated with data spread across CRM, ecommerce, store operations and financial systems.
In addition, fomni requires significant expenditures in IT and other resources as retailers struggle to manage multiple systems and integrations, as well as grapple with the ripple effect a change to one application can wreak across the entire business. Today’s customers have little sympathy for the headache that fomni can cause. Consumers expect the company they’re doing business with has real-time access to the same customer, inventory and order data no matter the channel they use.
Don’t be fooled by fomni solutions. True omnichannel allows retailers to serve the needs of customers across every touchpoint. If your current systems can’t do that, then it’s time to reassess your business needs.