High street retailers don't have to suffer in the era of e-commerce. There are several notable brands that have remained on top of the transition to the modern digital era. They have achieved this through the employment of omnichannel strategies.
The meaning of an 'omni-channel' retail strategy involves merging every channel that the retailer is present on into a single, seamless shopping experience. So, stores digital presence is available on a range of devices and their physical catalogues and online social media must all work hand in hand.
This omni-channel approach acknowledges the modern reality that consumers now engage in shopping across a range of mediums and frequently start their journey on one medium before completing it on another. It differs from multi-channel retail, which refers to the practice of selling both online and offline. To go omni-channel successfully, you must push beyond multi-channel and enter the shoes of your customers and the ways they interact with brands. Deliver everything the customer wants through all channels by which they interact with you.
'Omni-channel' means perceiving all channels as equal in importance, and complementary to your business. You must approach your strategy on the basis of an understanding that customers will engage with the shopping process through a range of different channels from start to finish.
You must make sure that all these channels are seamlessly connected, both for the consumer and for the business itself. There should be no barriers between different departments of the business - effective communication between departments is essential to successfully nurture an omnichannel strategy to deliver the right experience for the customer.
Retailers can deploy technology to improve the in-store experience, bringing the online store experience into physicality. This doesn't mean you have to invest in extravagant innovations like Augmented Reality in changing rooms; you could simply equip your floor staff with tablets and portable chip-and-pin devices, and train them so that their knowledge of the online experience your company offers measures up to their knowledge of the brick-and-mortar store. By also accepting digital and contactless card payments your store can grow and develop with technology, rather than fall behind it.
The high street doesn't have to suffer in the digital age, it simply needs to adapt and find its place. Customer experience is key, and by unifying every part of your retail business into a seamless omnichannel entity, you will be able to flourish in the modern climate.