Welcome to the first annual Trends and Research Issue of Retail Leader.
This issue identifies and examines the key trends that will shape the future of the industry. RL's editorial team spoke with the most influential experts in the field for their take on what should be top of mind among smart retailers and manufacturers. Key findings from original research we conducted among our readers adds a reality check to the predictions.
As we examined the research data, we were pleased to find that it bore out what we were hearing anecdotally. Responses to one survey question in particular sparked an interesting discussion among our editors: "What does an 'omnichannel experience' mean to your organization?"
In reading the verbatim responses, it became obvious that the only thing our respondents could agree upon about "omnichannel" is that it means different things to different organizations. One respondent called it "a nice catchword from marketers" then asked, "What does it mean in real life?" Another saw omnichannel as an opportunity to establish a closer relationship with its shoppers.
Others took a more strategic view. One said omnichannel meant "allowing my customers to interact seamlessly with our brand in multiple ways (online, in store, etc.)." "Important because it means that across all channels of interaction with the customer a high-quality, high-impact and homogeneous experience will exist," explained another.
From 30,000 feet up, the experts tell us shoppers expect nothing less than a truly integrated experience across all interactions in all channels. That's what "omnichannel" should mean. The reality, as you will see in this issue, is that few retailers have come close to achieving this goal, especially in grocery.
Having spent the past several months immersed in trends research, I've come away with an even better idea of the challenges facing retailers today in converging the many ways in which they interact with their shoppers. I believe that those who will be successful in achieving a seamless, omnichannel experience for their shoppers will not be hasty or rush to stake out their multichannel presence.
Instead, look to those who embrace the omnichannel concept across all organizational functions, from marketing to operations to human capital. To present a single, unified and consistent experience to shoppers, retailers must first speak with one voice internally.