Multichannel retailing has transformed the retail landscape and will continue to do so. New technologies and increasing customer power has led to retailers’ business success being shaped by how they responded to multichannel retailing. It’s a tough but very exciting time for everyone.
Talking with major retailers it appears to me that they are going through four stages in their multichannel journey. Some are already at stage three but many others are still at stage 1 & 2. A few are seriously considering what stage 4 will look like.
Stage 1. Threat: New online entrants such as Amazon threaten established bricks and mortar retailers who respond by building their own on-line sites.
Stage 2. Differentiation: Bricks and mortar retailers understand the main frustrations that customers experience when using online shopping such as waiting for deliveries and they respond by introducing click and collect services at their stores and improve customer service.
Stage 3. Convergence: Customers want the multiple ways they shop online and in-store to work together and be consistent. This requires more integrated systems which also offer the opportunity to more easily introduce new services and better ways of shopping for customers that will encourage them to buy more.
Stage 4. Rebirth: The emergence of new types of retail businesses that have been created based on meeting customers requirements. The current friction between technologies and ways of selling will no longer be visible and buying will be as easy as possible for customers.
I expect that you have already decided which stage your business is at and perhaps also speculated about what stage some other retailers are at too! Why not take a few minutes and think about what stage 4 could look like if you did not have to be constrained by how things are today.