Talking about Omni-Channel Challenges

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This Wednesday we had a breakfast seminar about innovation in retail, focusing on the next step of Omni-Channel. Among the guests were representatives from leading fashion brands, food companies, e-commerce experts, capital owners, board members, and venture capital firms. They all brought their own perspective of future challenges, which made the morning coffee my most dynamic moment of the day.

 If you are not familiar with the term Omni-channel, it is probably because you are not working within retail. Omni-channel is a retail term to describe a coherent experience throughout different channels. Consumers don’t reflect about it, they simply just expect the brand to appear the same, regardless of where they choose to interact with it (website, brick-and-mortar store, pop-up store, through a smart-phone app etc). For a retailer, on the other hand, it puts new challenges on the entire organization, and it has been a hot potato within the sector for several years. Despite this, today’s retailers are still struggling with implementing successful Omni-channel strategies. And customers have already started to demand more. They don’t just want to interact with the brand anymore; they want to impact the brand. Omni-channel 2.0 is about not viewing a customer as a passive counterpart, but an integral part of the value chain, impacting everything from brand message to design and service. Great challenges for retailers, and luckily we had some great speakers to shed light on these issues.

“In the future you might go into a sportswear store, come out with a second hand pair of swimming shorts, a course in crawl and a mountain biking trip to Ibiza” , Magnus Kroon

First out was our guest speaker, Magnus Kroon, from the Swedish Trade Federation, giving us nuanced insights about ongoing trends and he shared with us a few of his prediction about the future of retail. He argued that the current segmentation of the market will become irrelevant. While yesterday’s Fashionistas spent all their money on clothes todays Fashionistas might buy trendy headphones in the electronic store, match it with fashionable sneakers from the sportswear store and complete the image by buying a take-away coffee from a trendy café. He sees a future of “consumption companies” designed to satisfy a need rather than being focused around a product range. Another insight he brough to the table was the following; as we live more of our lives online, the value of a well-designed physical space will increase. This is true both when traveling and locally why retailers shouldn’t think about destinations for tourists and functional places for locals – Think about Festivations for all people, was his advice! A further key message was that we can see a clear trend towards sustainable consumption, exemplified by high growth on secondhand markets.  In order to maintain profitability, many businesses will have to adapt their current offerings to the rapidly increasing fraction of consumers that demand responsibly  produced goods. 

My colleagueAgnes Sävenstedt, Director Level Consultant, continued by giving us
several examples on how robots are revolutionizing the retail industry as we speak. The amount of tasks robots can perform today is i
mpressive and I am convinced that robots have a bright future in the retail sector. More on this in a separate blog post here

Wrapping up the seminar, Magnus Penker, also Director Level Consultant here at Innovation 360,  elaborated on how to build a lasting organization in this rapidly changing retail environment. He stressed that successful implementation of Omni-Channel strategies in practice involves all levels of a company– From long-term strategic planning, to hands-on experiments to find best-practice, to coordination of  how all personell interact with customers on a daily basis; in all channels and at the customers expectations.  Magnus Penker also gave some tangible client success stories and the rational behind its success, also pointed out some major failures and misunderstandings made in the past to be avoided in the future. 

 All in all, a great morning and I look forward to our next breakfast seminar the 12th of June, when we will examine different ways to found innovation.

So long blog,
Sara

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