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The customer has one view of you – do you have one view of them?

Shoppers might not be aware of the term omnichannel, but they’re practicing it. How often today will retail organizations encounter a customer who researches through a website before buying at a local store, or who moves between bricks-and-mortar, online and mobile app transactions, depending on what’s most convenient in that very moment?

The word omnichannel is very familiar with retailers – some may even say over used! – but the reality is that many still don’t have the ability to view each customer holistically. Creating a seamless customer experience is a bit like treading water; a furious amount of work must be done underneath the surface for it to appear as if you’re gliding along gracefully.

Meeting customer expectations in every channel starts with optimization of back-end systems. For example, inventory transparency is paramount; retailers must be able to not only see what stock is present at every location at a single point in time, but to determine where items are best dispatched to the customer. This means being able to identify which products are available for purchase, and which have already been allocated to other orders or channels.

Tying into this, having network-wide inventory visibility also enables retailers to offer customers greater fulfilment and return options. For instance, giving online shoppers the option to return goods to the store, or shipping ecommerce orders from the store where a high value customer needs an express delivery service. Going this extra mile not only makes the retail experience more convenient; it is more likely to nurture stronger, longer-term relationships.

It’s not just behind-the-scenes where a joined up experience matters. As these examples demonstrate, the store is critical to customer service – yet it is often the channel where connected experiences fall apart. This is because many retailers are using multiple data systems and spreadsheets to pull together a customer picture, and are struggling to deliver those insights fast enough (and conjoined enough) to bricks-and-mortar customers.

Thankfully, new point of sale (POS) technology and CRM cloud services are enabling sales associates to start incorporating the vast amount of operational data available digitally within physical retail encounters.

This is something OLR has witnessed first-hand among the retailers involved in our Oracle Retail Xstore Point of Service – previously called MICROS XSTORE – implementation projects. In order to create a truly omnichannel experience within the store environment, businesses have upgraded to a retail POS solution that enables commerce anywhere, and combines loyalty programs, clienteling and promotions with sales to enhance customer service levels.

However, it is not the sole responsibility of the point of sale alone to drive omnichannel engagement. The most successful retailers are combining POS technology with a CRM solution such as Oracle Retail Customer Engagement Cloud Services – formerly known as MICROS Relate CRM.

The Customer Engagement Cloud Service integrates with Oracle’s Xstore Point of Service in real-time, to bring the latest customer data into store interactions, and further personalize clienteling during the decision making process. Also, it’s important to note that the most effective CRM solutions integrate not only with POS, but also with other transaction channels such as eCommerce, mobile and call centers.

Ultimately, it’s always going to be easier for customers to demand a common experience in all channels than it is for retailers to deliver on these expectations. What’s become clear is the vital role that technology plays in omnichannel innovation, and the loyalty cost for organizations that under-invest in their customer service solutions.

Whether you are a current MICROS customer or are considering upgrading to Oracle’s Point of Service and CRM solutions, OLR can help you gain one view of your customers. Contact us to for a detailed channel evaluation to drive maximum return on investment.

Author: Gagan Sinha, Director – Stores Practice