It's never too soon to begin examining industry expectations for the top-emerging trends. This year is key for many retailers when it came to instituting new omni-channel commerce strategies, and 2016 will see the continuation of many of these initiatives.
2016 omni-channel outlook
According to an industry report from Retail Systems Research, retailers are expecting a number of opportunities and challenges surrounding their omni-channel strategies. One common expectation is a growth in sales thanks to being omni-channel optimized. The report found that the vast majority of respondents - 83 percent of retailers, suppliers and third-party logistics providers - expect that their omni-channel readiness will allow their sales growth to be better or much better this year compared with last year.
At the same time, many respondents cited consumer-related concerns as the top challenge they faced last year. The majority expect this to continue into the next five years, with the ability to address buying preferences, consumer technology and omni-channel retailing leading the pack.
Despite these challenges, many respondents believe omni-channel commerce strategies will create opportunities for their organization. In fact, in connection with their omni-channel initiatives, a total of 87 percent of respondents are planning to make minor to major investments in e-commerce advancements. An additional 75 percent will make varying levels of investments in warehouse improvements and 86 percent will invest in inventory management this year.
2016's top omni-channel strategies
The report also recommended the use of certain omni-channel commerce strategies to help foster success in the coming years. SPS Commerce contributor Kay Rindels noted that many of these initiatives revolve around resource management and better connections among partners.
"[P]arties in the the supply chain need to take more orchestrated steps to enable better visibility and collaboration," Rindels wrote.
In order to make this a reality, the RSR report recommends:
- Improving upon legacy technology: While not all companies will be able to integrate the latest and greatest systems, those in charge of omni-channel strategies should consider service-oriented architectures at the very least. The report noted that these solutions can help retailers get on the right path toward incorporating new technologies and can streamline the integration process.
- Sharing data more efficiently: The report also encouraged companies to be more efficient with their data sharing processes by leveraging more than just spreadsheets. While these documents have their place, a secure file sharing platform can make all the difference when it comes to enhancing data sharing capabilities. And with the right information on hand, managers are better equipped to improve their omni-channel strategies.
- Targeting product recommendations: The report also found that more targeted product recommendations are proving beneficial for retailers in their omni-channel pursuits. Instead of perusing the never-ending aisle of items, consumers are looking for a shorter list of products that make the most sense for their needs.
Overall, omni-channel strategies hold many opportunities for retailers in the next few years. When specific initiatives are instituted, there's little doubt that companies' expectations for economic growth will be fulfilled.
More omni-channel resources:
- What does omni-channel really mean and are we ready for it?
- Omni-channel retail: Tips to ensure successful strategy integration