Omnichannel in Canada – finding it here is like finding water in the desert
What is Omnichannel? You might be saying it is another buzz word; so why do I care? The reality is Omnichannel is no longer a nice to have feature for any modern retailer, but a must-have approach to competing in today’s retail space.
In 2013—the most recent year for which Statistics Canada completed a study on digital technology and Internet use in the country—just 13% of Canadian businesses were selling online. (1) This rate is a truly scary statistic.
Why are Canadian Businesses so behind? (2)
Why are Canadian retailers taking so long to adopt eCommerce and omnichannel?
Let’s review some of the features of Omnichannel to try and understand the problem.
The most basic feature of Omnichannel is having a unified account and messaging across all touch points that a retailer has.
Another “must-have” capability that is adopted in many other countries but still a luxury for most Canadian retailers is the “pick in your favorite store”. Inventory tracking and correct product availability is probably the most important trust factor for any consumer/retail relationship.
I will not even mention any other cool features such as digital receipts, product recommendations, personalization, etc.
In the previous years the trend was for the brick & mortar stores to add e-commerce capabilities but recently online stores are starting to open physical locations. The big advantage that online-first stores have is their analytics capabilities since everything they have ever done has been recorded in a computer (3).
The most successful example of Omnichannel is by American Retailer “Best Buy”. They were able to adapt and transform to the new reality of Omnichannel. By embracing the change instead of the denying they were able to stay ahead of the game. (4)
Benefits of Omnichannel to Consumers
Convenience – allowing the consumer to have options on how to shop
Time Saving – save time by shopping at the same retailers and quick home delivery
Benefits of Omnichannel to Retailers
Increasing Revenue – by giving consumer options on how to buy at the own pace will allow them to be more loyal to the same retailer.
Increasing Market Share – reaching people that might not shop without this functionality.
Seems simple? However, it requires getting comfortable with technology and what it can offer. Canadian retailers were always following closely behind their American neighbors so now is the best time to start transitioning to Omnichannel world by investing in proper processes and info-structure. Luckily, there are plenty of experts and technology partners to help make the journey smoother and more enjoyable.
- Canadian innovations, http://www.canadianbusiness.com/innovation/canada-ecommerce-innovators/
- Retailers: Are you leading—or lagging, https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/ca/Documents/Analytics/ca-en-omnichannel-POV.PDF
- Online stores that opened retail locations, https://www.thestar.com/business/2016/06/13/five-e-commerce-retailers-that-opened-bricks-and-mortar-shops.html
- Best Buy, http://www.marketingmag.ca/brands/best-buy-exec-distinguishes-total-retail-vs-omni-channel-174530