When you go to a concert, you have certain expectations. For instance, if the different sections of the orchestra (e.g. strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion) are out of harmony, you will leave feeling disappointed. Similarly, customers have expectations when they shop. So when your online and offline retail channels are out of harmony, your customers feel disappointed. They may even write bad reviews or shop elsewhere.
The pandemic placed a high level of pressure on companies to meet digital demand. Retailers worked to deliver a consistent brand experience to satisfy their customers throughout the shopping journey. However, the way people shop, buy and consume products is evolving. So, delivering a satisfactory buyers’ journey continues to be a challenge.
When you’re out of harmony
Most of today’s retail channels are still siloed per channel (multichannel) rather than seamlessly integrated across all channels (omnichannel). This creates bumpy, uncomfortable and unforgiveable shopping experiences for digital customers, including:
- Purchasing products online that can’t be returned to a store
- Seeing that in-store stock is different from online stock
- Not being able to pick up online orders at the store
- Trying on products in the store that can’t also be purchased online
- Asking store employees to order online stock, but they can’t
An integrated retail strategy harmonizes the retail experience
According to McKinsey, omnichannel shoppers shop 1.7 times more (and spend more) than single channel shoppers.[i] To harmonize, or blend, online and in‑store channels, retailers need to move from multichannel models, in which product movement and customer data are separate for each channel (e.g. one channel each for mobile, in-store, catalog purchases, etc.) to an omnichannel model that provides centralized product and customer data across all channels. Creating a harmonized omnichannel retail model requires an integrated retail strategy with a unified integration platform.
Why integration? According to Deloitte, the fusion of online and in-person shopping experiences will continue, and retailers should make investments that meet the e-commerce needs of the present, but also those of the future.[i] An omnichannel model requires centralization of all data. However, omnichannel challenges arise because different steps in the consumer-purchasing journey – promotion, pricing, shopping, paying and fulfillment – have become decentralized or siloed across multiple systems. The reason for the decentralization of data is that, over the years, retailers have expanded to accommodate diverse and complex digital ecosystems, which include multiple data sources, different data types, different protocols, different target systems (inventory, product, loyalty, orders and CRM, etc.) and an array of external partners, such as suppliers and distributors.
To centralize this complex ecosystem into an omnichannel model requires at least the following features in an integration solution:
- A single integration platform that can quickly connect all data sources, applications and target systems
- A single integration platform with a vast array of connectors to accommodate all data types, data communication protocols and applications, independent of where these applications are hosted, on-premises or in the cloud
- A single integration platform that can quickly connect all technically-capable and non-technical external partners
- A single integration platform to provide centralized end-to-end visibility of all business processes for faster responses and resolutions of exceptions
- A low-code/no-code integration platform that reduces excessive coding fees and reduces time to market
- A future-proof integration framework that easily meets both today’s and tomorrow’s ever-changing digital environment (including blockchain, AI, machine learning, etc.)
SEEBURGER provides the integration platform that retailers need to meet these omnichannel integration requirements. With SEEBURGER BIS, you can ensure that product and customer information flows seamlessly across all blended channels – online and in store, as part of your integrated retail strategy. You can provide a harmonious shopping experience, while improving resource utilization and avoiding conflicts between channels that create poor customer experiences.
With SEEBURGER BIS, retailers can enjoy the following advantages:
- Speedy and reliable ship-from-store fulfillment capabilities
- Comprehensive cross-platform integration to back-end systems (orders, warehouse, transportation, product management systems, etc.)
- Improved data visibility and monitoring of your business transactions
- Reduced overall integration costs
For more on achieving harmonized retail. Read the blog, Realize Your Harmonized Retail Potential with API Integration. Or, download our paper 5 Reasons Why You Need Harmonized Retail Connections.
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Written by: Brent TisdaleBrent Tisdale is a Vice President of OmniChannel Sales at SEEBURGER Inc, a global market leader in business integration software. He has more than 30 years’ experience working for luminary companies like IBM and General Electric where he has streamlinedcomplex business processes for many industries including Retail, CPG and Discrete Manufacturing. He has a Six Sigma Greenbelt earned from his years with GE which he utilizes to gain a deep understanding of business process challenges and the suggested integration options. He was the Co-captain of the 1979 Holiday Bowl Champions. The first Bowl game ever won by Indiana University (Bloomington) Football team.