Back to top

Implementing Omni Channel Strategies in Home Furnishing Retail

05/07/2016 0 Comment


the Bottom LineRecent surveys indicate that around 80% of the sales and purchase decisions in today's advanced business environment are backed by costumers’ online research on the product through the official website and its online presence. Studies also suggest that customers are adapting to the more ease of access shopping experiences than visiting the outlet in person to shop. Researches indicate that a good proportion of customers, estimating around 85% consider and value the quality of service and personal experiment more than the quality or features of the product itself.

Apparently, we can deduce that business in today's market has gone more customer oriented and demand more on the organizations’ part to create and establish an operational mechanism that caters to the customer needs and expectations and provides them with a convenient, instantaneous and excellent service experience to influence them into making purchases. This would have been much of an exasperating task if conducted manually, but it is the Omni Channel strategies that come to the business’s call to provide an excellent business value and gain competitive advantage.

Retail sector solely relying on the conventional brick and mortar with no ecommerce, or with ecommerce but no Omni Channel incorporation are soon going to be extinct. Omni Channel, despite the many fallacies and misconceptions attached, has long bypassed the fad period and has now become a well grounded business standard. It is now imperative upon the home furnishing retailers to, to surrender to the need of time to elevate their business performance, for it is now decided that Omni is the present and Omni will be the future of retail.




Busting Myths, Unveiling Reality!

The technological takeover of global businesses and economies has paved way for certain mechanisms that were never heard of until a decade ago. The world is no more confined within the premises of planet Earth; it has its own virtual replica that shares a major chunk of its population and is more advanced, rapid, integrated and responsive than the actual world. Everything that used to be physical in the past has now switched over to cloud. With the consistent influx in competition in the technological sector, we can only wonder when the cloud world would actually surpass and take over the physical world.

Education, communication, shopping, socializing, everything that involved person to person interaction is effectively being performed with machines steering control on the other side of the screen. Businesses worldwide too have thrown in to this call, for the only way to sustain your mark in the current business world is to maintain an equally or rather, more strong existence on the cyber world. With programs upgraded, systems renewed and applications enforced; a business without complying with this need of time is sure well on its way towards a self homicide. The realization to upgrade, reinvent and innovate would not suffice here; for today, business success is not merely about doing things, it is about doing things right.

With the timely realization of retail sector to step outside the confinements of brick and mortar and step into the domain of ecommerce has completely altered the businesses’ selling and consumers’ buying patterns. A handy website and social media platforms might be an essential component of digital business strategy, but ecommerce for retail means more than that. It is either Omni channel, or bust!



​What is Omni Channel?

According to Chris Williams and Ana Aguilar at Deloitte, UK, in the specific realms of retail, "Omni Channel retailing refers to the integration of a range of different channels – from brick-and-mortar stores, to websites, to apps and social media – in order to provide a seamless shopping experience to consumers."
In the simplest connotations, Omni channel is a condense network of integrated operational business units that work in parallel correlation, enhancing and leveraging the impact of each unit and thus concluding inferences based on the analytics, to provide businesses an elaborate and in-depth insight about their customers, their shopping behavior, purchasing power, market trends and inclinations. This provides the business a complete control and authority to steer and mold their strategy within an instant as per the needs of a specific customer, and enables you to offer a customized service for each individual customer.



​Potential of Omni Channel in Home Furnishing Retail – Retail meets Ubiquity!

The implementation of Omni Channel into home furnishing retail does not in any way relate to the demolition of brick and mortar and building a cloud business empire with no physical existence. It is about enabling the home furnishing retailers to stretch their hands and progress their reach out into the ecommerce domain, while staying firm on their physical ground. It is about the technological integration of ecommerce with brick and mortar at the backend while creating the handiest and smartest customer experience and enabling businesses to align their business operation with altering market inclinations.

The results do not need long algebraic expressions to be calculated. Brick and Mortar and Ecommerce combined, innovated through Omni channel, results in increased sales, high market visibility and improved user experience. It is as simple as that.

Today, $1.5 trillion in retail sales is generated by customers who start their shopping journey online and conclude it in the physical store. Retailers recognize that they must move quickly to meet and then continually improve this customer expectation. Of course, no single omnichannel strategy is right for every retailer. The potential for Omni Channel-ization of home furnishing retail is immense. According to Forrester research, only 4% of the home furnishing retailers have stepped into the ecommerce domain, let alone the Omni Channel. This implies that 96% area of the market is still untapped. Apparently, the figures suggest that home furnishing is lagging far behind than other business industries and that too in an era where same day delivery is becoming a norm and humans are learning to use smartphones even before they learn preschool ABC.

Incorporation of Omni Channel into the home furnishing retail creates an effortless shopping experience for customers and brings it at the ease of their finger tips, while evaluating their behavior, preference and inclination at the back and end and molding the offering and strategy instantly to align perfectly with what your customer is looking for. Result is evident; more sales, and more revenue.
Besides improving the quality of customer experience and locking in more successful sales, the Omni Channel innovation of your home furnishing business would enable you to better manage you assortments and inventories, thus creating a smart and automated supply chain mechanism. It leverages the impact of your digital strategy and draws out inferences based on as simple and minute instances as a mere touch or click, about what a customer is actually looking for and how his need can be satisfied. With this timely analysis through Omni Channel, you could make him an offer he won't refuse.

Particularly observing in the realm of home furnishing industry, Omni channel is the key for brick-and-mortar-only retailers to establish a holistic multi channel and multiple access point retail strategy, to invoke a customer centric approach in their operation that could actually turn out to be a business centric and profit yielding move. This would require some efficient policy remodeling and supporting in-store technology infrastructure to offer high service value while aspiring for a competitive edge and extending the areas of retail operations without actually having to set up stores and offering franchises.

However, despite the “all good and no harm” forecast, home furnishing industry is still in its incubation phase when it comes to the innovation in terms of Omni channel incorporation. This comes majorly on credit of the fallacies and myths about Omni Channel that have been floating in the retail corridors.



​Distinguishing Facts from Fiction - The Omni Channel’s Non-Ominous Reality!

​Like everything that turns into the talk of the town, Omni Channel too is being stigmatized with myths and delusions that have been keeping the home furnishing industry from jumping on to the bandwagon other industries are so excitedly getting on board. These misconceptions are the major hindrance that the major and essential operational units of the home furnishing retail still work as silos, with each unit working as an individual entity, with its own staff and processes. What they fail to understand is that a huge additional profit can be wriggled out of the combined and integrated 'Omni Channel-ized' power of the subsidiary units while delivering to the customer experience and gaining a competitive advantage.

Myth 1: “Omni Channel is a myth retailers shouldn't invest in.”

This myth could not sound more funny. When a myth lasts a decade, know that it is now a standard. The Omni Channel incorporation started getting momentum some ten years ago and the businesses who realized the direction in which the wind was blowing in time, are now well on their way to experimenting with their well established Omni Channel mechanisms. 
​While those who stayed in the delusion of it being a passing phase are now struggling to maintain their very presence known with their brick and mortar approach. Following the footsteps of Wal-Mart, Target and Costco, Bed Bath and Beyond too has started to fuse its expansive network of franchise and outlets with its online and digital business channel to leverage in-store as well as online sales through effectively engaging the buyer's buying interest.

Global business tycoons do not follow myths. They set trends and steer and determine the direction of market progress. Going against their powerful tide would only make you appear as weak and feeble compared to high-set industry standards, and eventually cost you a gradual or immediate decline in market share


Myth 2: “Retailers can reach Omni Channel goals with just Warehouse management systems (wms) and POS.”

This could be true if your idea and perception of Omni channel is extremely limited and confined to sales and stocks. Warehouse Management System and Point of Sales Strategy may enable you to get your hands on a significant magnitude of Big Data, practically, it would only let you control and manage you inventories, the incoming and outflow of stocks through WMS while POS would only act as a cash register to manage the cash flow and the monetary exchange that occurs against a product sales. In a broader perspective, Omni channel has a whole lot more to do than just automating the cash flow and managing the inventories.

WMS and POS are a mere small unit of the Omni Channel mechanism and the whole mechanism involves all business and retail operation, be it in-store or online, binding it into a complex network that only eases tasks at customer’s and organization’s ends alike. The goal of Omni Channel is to create a seamless user experience and provide the businesses an authority and command to respond to a customer’s need in a timely manner. In this context Warehouse management system and POS, both fail big time.  

 Myth 3: “It is too expensive to offer expedited or free shipping and returns.”

Operating in ecommerce comes with its own occupational 'hazards', as retailers would call it, free shipping, money backs and returns are the most dreaded and despised ecommerce attributes that retailers find going against their interests. In an era when the industries are bubbling with competition, you charging for product delivery while your competitors do it for free would make even your most loyal buyers bid you farewell and land in the court of your competitor. Although this does not exactly fall under the domain of Omni channel mechanism, the effect can be indirectly related to offer a competitive service attributes that would cost you a god load of bucks otherwise. For instance, when you deploy Omni channel strategy in your business, you immediately receive a cut on expense on various manual business operation like customer service, inventory control and management and retail operations.

This cost reduction could be compensated n enhancing the service experience and providing your customers with certain features and attributes which would bear an additional cost otherwise. Moreover, the Omni Channel analytics would help you determine a price patterns that would include the service expense while being affordable for the customer and competitive in the market.

Myth 4: “Retailers don’t need an online shopping cart or online inventory visibility.”

This myth again signifies the industries limited approach to Omni channel strategies. Product catalogues, shopping carts and online display of products is generally perceived to be only relevant at the customers' end to inform them about the product on offer along with the relevant details. Particularly stating in the realm of retail functions at organizational end, especially if you have a retail network of multiple outlets and stores it is equally essential for you to keep track of the inventories of entire retail network. 

​Without Omni Channel, this would involve an individual audit and inventory management for each store and the eventual painstaking analysis of accumulated statics combined to formulate a business audit report. The Omni channel optimizes and controls inventories, of inter and intra retail network. It automates the supply chain and timely shipping of products and also enables the business through the accumulated Big Business Data to analyses what is selling like hot cake ad what's driving the customers’ interest. Shopping cart at the retailer's end is not essentially similar to the shopping cart at customer's end. It has more to do with inventory management, the product in stock and available in store and the product that needs to be replaced or removed from the offer charts.