A deep dive into omni-channel retailing with Ricardo Belmar

The Digital Retailer

Understanding the differences between omni-channel and multi-channel retailing is vital to stay ahead of the pack, and evolve with the ever-changing tastes of consumers. Retailers need to stay on top of changes and not miss out on new opportunities to capture customers’ attention.

To understand this issue better, we sat down with Ricardo Belmar, Director Partner Marketing for Retail & CPG at Microsoft for the latest episode of our Digital Retailer podcast. He explained to us what omni-channel retailing really is, the generational gaps between retail shoppers, and why data is so critical to retailers now, more than ever before. Listen to our full conversation, or grab the key headlines from our summary below!

What is omni-channel retailing?

Omni-channel retailing has evolved from the cross-channel and multi-channel options of the past, where customers could use different channels to shop and buy what they wanted. But in many cases, each of these platforms remained separate from the others. It wasn’t easy for customers to have a seamless experience, as multi-channel retailing reduced the ability of customers to get what they wanted all in one place. Naturally, that led to some lost sales, and customers that went looking for something at other places.

With omni-channel retailing, customers can look at products from every channel, select what they need, and put it all together in one place, where they can then make a purchase. They can browse on their phone while shopping at a brick-and-mortar store to compare products and choose what works best for them. They can order on their phone for pickup, or use a kiosk at the store to look at the website.

Using all those channels makes it easy for customers to get what they need, and because they can put it all together in one purchase, they don’t need to worry about making multiple trips or placing multiple orders. Shopping that way is becoming much more common, and retailers that offer an omni-channel experience are starting to see that they’re getting ahead of their competitors. They provide additional value for customers, even if their products are the same.

Generational gaps between retail shoppers

Retail shoppers aren’t all the same, and it’s becoming easier to see the generational gaps that many of them experience. That is something that we strongly noted when we asked US customers about their perception of Scan and Go. Older shoppers aren’t looking for multi-channel or omni-channel options nearly as frequently as younger shoppers. Shoppers in younger age groups have grown up with websites and phones, where they can find almost anything, all the time.

That’s not to say there aren’t any older shoppers who use their phones and other types of technology, or younger shoppers who go to retail stores. But demographics show that there is definitely a generational gap in the ways people like to shop. Millennials and Gen Z are going to be more frequently interested in an omni-channel experience, and Gen X and Baby Boomers will be more likely to shop in person. The easier a business makes the omni-channel experience, though, the more people of all generations will use it.

Why data is so critical to retailers nowadays

Data is critical for retailers, especially when building an omni-channel shopping experience. They need to know who’s buying from them, what customers are purchasing and where they are buying it. They also need to know which items are selling the best, and if there are any problems that are keeping customers away. With all of that going on, data will help them learn what they need to know, so they can make choices that help their business expand.

The more data that retailers are extracting from customer purchases and demographics, the more easily those retailers can see trends that help them improve their business. If there’s something about their company, product line, or shopping experience that customers really don’t like, making data-enlightened changes can be what’s needed to get those customers coming back again.

Businesses that take the time to extract and analyze data are businesses that can put that data to good use and be more successful in the future. It’s all about giving customers the experience they want and need, so they can continue shopping with businesses they trust and rely on.

A big thanks to Ricardo Belmar for sharing these insights with us! For more, catch the full interview below: