IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 10 Apr 2012

The Adoption of Omni-channel

Andy TudorOver the coming year, retailers at the forefront of omni-channel developments, who are already looking into the different ways in which their customers can transact; will be introducing several new IT initiatives within their businesses. After working closely with a number of our retail clients, I have provided the following predictions regarding what the most popular technologies will be.

Firstly, I predict that we will see some fairly significant trials of mobile payments over the next twelve months. This will move a step further forward than mobile optimised websites and mobile apps, and will be about joining up different channels. This involves enabling a customer to start researching a purchase on their mobile and perhaps coming into store and completing the purchase on their phone as well.

I understand that there are plans for Oyster cards to be replaced by NFC payments, which is using a debit or credit card (that will ultimately evolve into using mobile phones with NFC chips within them) to enable the London Underground to take a payment. I think as we start to see that type of technology implemented on a wide scale within the public sector, and it becomes commonplace, people will become accustomed to using the technology. Customers will therefore be less resistant to utilising that type of solution within a retail environment.

Another prediction is that there could be a movement away from fixed tills over the coming year, and again we might start to see further trials in that area. We’ve already started to witness tablet trials on quite a widespread basis, and as platforms such as Windows 8 start to come out, we may see some real challenges to the Apple monopoly. Tablets can give an added level of personal interaction with the customer when they come into store. Having a one on one experience with the customer is particularly important for luxury brands, where the price point on individual products or the overall basket is high.

I believe that over the coming year social networking practices will be widely introduced within the workplace. Social networking currently gives the retailer the opportunity to understand more about their customer. In extreme examples we’ve already seen the executive boards at certain retailers being able to respond to Twitter feeds and Facebook comments, and embracing social networking at a senior level. At an operational level we also see various retailers studying live Twitter streams to see how people are reacting to new product launches.

However I also predict that social networking practices will be introduced within the internal culture of retail organisations themselves. In the case of bricks and mortar retailers I think that social networking technologies can underpin a communications strategy, for example between the Head Office and the store estate. This is because social media utilises a type of technology that employees are already familiar with, as it’s becoming commonplace within their own personal lives.

Finally, another exciting area to explore, which we will see expansion in is international websites. I think we’re going to start to witness true international trade as dedicated foreign language websites break down barriers to this. As a customer you can be logged on anywhere in the World and shop from any websites that you want to, using your own currency.

Do you agree with the above predictions regarding the adoption of omni-channel, or do you have some of your own? Please post your comments below or email

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