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    Do’s and Don’ts of Omnichannel

    Embrace new technologies, foster consistency

    By John Karolefski

    The goal of omnichannel retailing is to create a seamless grocery shopping experience for consumers who have the option of purchasing products in store, online and via mobile phones. It's not a process or activity that can be slapped together in short order. It's a journey that calls for developing an offering that will satisfy demanding shoppers and be equal to or better than that of a competing retailer.   

    While doing research for a feature story on this topic, I spoke with several experts who shared the right and wrong ways to do omnichannel. Much of their advice, and some of my own, is below:

    First, three Don’ts:

    Don’t confuse omnichannel with multichannel: Grocers need to offer different channels of interaction to shoppers, including physical stores, online stores and social media. That is a multichannel, silo approach, which becomes omnichannel when the channels are integrated. Grocers can then personalize the shopping experience based on consumer behavior across different channels.    

    Don’t rush: While there is some urgency to leap into true omnichannel retailing because that seems to be the future, be prudent and start slowly. Develop a multi-year plan with the goal of becoming an omnichannel retailer. Take one step at a time.

    Don’t do nothing: It’s important for grocers to get started on an omnichannel strategy. Doing nothing is not an option. Today’s shoppers are expecting options in grocery shopping. Don’t disappoint your best customers.    

    Here are three Do’s:

    Embrace new technologies: It's difficult to deploy an effective omnichannel strategy without new technologies to gather and analyze real-time data. The goal is to mine the accumulated shopper insights. Armed with this information, grocers can develop a personalized shopping experience for customers.   

    Be consistent: Branding and communication must be consistent across channels so shoppers have a single, unified experience with the retailer. Satisfy shopper expectations. For example, if digital coupons are accepted in stores, they should also be applied to purchases that are delivered to the home or picked up curbside.  

    Understand shoppers: Omnichannel gives grocers the chance to personalize communication with customers based on their shopping preferences and patterns across different channels. Take the opportunity to analyze their behavior and anticipate their needs.       

    To summarize: The ability to purchase groceries through various channels gives consumers choices that fit their lifestyle. Omnichannel is not going away. It's not a fad. It will become the norm for shoppers, especially Millennials

    The best advice: Begin or continue the omnichannel journey. 

    By John Karolefski
    • About John Karolefski John Karolefski is a veteran business journalist with 25 years of experience covering CPG, retail and technology. Over the years, he has edited several trade publications and is the co-author of three books: "TARGET 2000: the Rising Tide of TechnoMarketing," "All about Sampling and Demonstrations," and "Consumer-Centric Category Management." He has appeared on CNN, CBS Radio and BBC Radio to discuss marketing issues. He can be reached at [email protected]

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