The paradox of omnichannel

omnichannelretailWhat new technology does is create new opportunities to do a job that customers want done.

Tim O’Reilly

This week I wanted to share with you the results of an informal survey that we personally conducted across many of Australia’s leading speciality retailers and it concerns the topic of omnichannel retail.

The seamless integration of product across all channels to market; with full transparency of product, promotion and pricing parody such that you or I could shop 24 hours a day across the retailers product range at any time of the day or night across any channel from any location globally.

That we could have the product visibility from the comfort of our home or the delights of our chosen retailer’s shops, with resulting value adds such as click and collect and various options.

The first point to make is that omnichannel is not firstly about the front end of retail and that is the misunderstanding that is easily made – retailers don’t suddenly become seamless omnichannel retailers by adding a website and social media presence to the store network.

The commencement to omnichannel begins with the capital investment in business information systems, most notably across all inventories, its hold to SKU and replenishment. The ability to access inventory with full visibility across the channels is a starting capability is a critical capability

The survey I alluded to was a walk in mystery shop to 12 leading speciality retailers in Sydney and Melbourne.

In 70 per cent of the visits the staff where unable to identify stock held online or at the warehouse

In 74 per cent I was unable to have click and collect.

In 45 per cent the shop assistant chose not to look online, in shop for the item.


90 per cent of the retailers surveyed had trading websites, social media presence of varying descriptions and of this 90 per cent we saw that 30 per cent actively advertised their online offers within the shop.

So we deduce that that the in store experience is not fully omnichannel with many retailers really at the early stages of the capital expenditure and business rewiring required to move into a proper omnichannel delivery.

No amount of instore training, visual presentation or design investment or promise will replace the back end omnichannel investment that is required.

Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group, Australian elected Ebeltoft member, and can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or [email protected]

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