Essential Omni-Channel Tips You Should Be Using In 2017

    2016 was not kind to traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. 

    Online shoppers spent an average 4% more every time they are in a brick-and-mortar store, and spend 10% more when shopping online.

    And let's be honest; consumers today expect the "Amazon" experience every time they shop. Trying to match the convenience of Amazon with an integrated supply chain with personalized and trusted product content is no easy feat.

    So how can your organization keep up? 

    To help answer this tough question, I've interviewed Steve Scala, Executive VP, Corporate Development at DiCentral and 30-year veteran in the EDI software industry, to shed some light on how to how to stay relevant in the digital era.  

    Q. Is the traditional brick-and-mortar retail model dead?

    Steve: There is no denying it. 2016 was a rough year for traditional brick and mortar retailers. Just look at all the bankruptcies and store closures: Hancock Fabrics filed chapter 11, and closed all 255 stores. The Limited filed chapter 11 and closed all 250 stores. Sports Authority filed chapter 11, and closed all 140 stores. Macy's closed 100 stores. American Eagle closed 150 stores.  Sears / Kmart closed 10% of its store base (142 stores). And after Office Depot and Office Max merged, they closed 400 stores.  

    Q. Is ‘Amazon’ at the root of modern-day retail challenges?

    Steve: Certainly a good part of the challenge, but in many ways, part of the solution.  Many retailers now realize that they're competing for customers outside the mall. Amazon has been poised for success for years, with a near seamless blend of warehouse processing and e-commerce shopping experience. 

    Some experts estimate that Amazon makes up about 7% of the U.S. apparel market, and that figure is predicted to increase to 19% by 2020 (Barrons 2016). A 2016 "State of Amazon" study revealed that Amazon is often involved in almost all online shopping activities (Consumer Goods Technology 2016). Lastly, approximately 9 in 10 consumers will check Amazon even if they find a product they want on another retailer's website.

    Q. What will the future face of retail look like?

    Steve: Today’s consumers float freely from the mall to online as traditional and modern shopping models unify into "blended commerce". Pure e-commerce retailers are evaluating retail store fronts, while traditional brick and mortar retailers are rapidly pursuing online and mobile commerce channels.

    “The shift in retail to the Internet is a huge change... every retail company is trying to manage the transition. It’s not well defined or understood and there’s no road map” said Simeon Gutman, a retailing analyst for Morgan Stanley (New York Times 2015).

    Given the consumer’s lofty expectations for an integrated cross-channel shopping experience, there is a steady race to remain relevant in a hyper-competitive retail environment.

    While Amazon is expanding its physical presence, Walmart is strengthening its ecommerce strides (eMarketer 2017).

    At the beginning of 2017, Amazon announced that it will open its newest brick-and-mortar bookstore in New York City. At the same time, - a Walmart subsidiary - announced that they purchased online footwear retailer ShoeBuy.

    Q. How can retail efficiently balance "brick" and "click"?

    Steve: Clearly, today’s world of commerce requires a multi-pronged approach. Trying to match the convenience of Amazon with an integrated supply chain with personalized and trusted product content is no easy feat.

    We've recently partnered with 1WorldSync to explore how brick & mortar retailers can develop the operational backbone that supports e-commerce investments in a whitepaper, "Connected Commerce Through The Cloud".

    I'd highly recommend the whitepaper to any organization that's looking to merge transactional and product data to optimize the supply chain process in the digital era. Download the whitepaper by clicking below:

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    1. “Amazon Could Be Largest U.S. Company by 2020.” Barrons. 2 June 2016,
    2. “Amazon Set to Dominate 2016 Holiday Shopping”. Consumer Goods Technology. 27 September 2016.
    3. “Walmart Plays Catch-Up with Amazon.” New York Times, October 22, 2015.
    4. “Omnichannel 2017: Amazon and Walmart Make Moves”. EMarketer. 9 Jan 2017.