Okay, I really think omnichannel is one of the most important trends in retail. So no points for guessing where I spent much of my day at the Kauppa 2016 Breaking Boundaries event in Helsinki last week.
The morning break-out session “Omnichannel: Digitalisation and customer experience” was one of the most interesting, largely thanks to Lasse Kalmi. The Development Director at building materials giant STARK told us about the merger of Starkki and Puukeskus, and how they decided to implement the joint strategy of the new merged company by introducing three guarantees: Reach (somebody would always answer a query, whether in person, phone, e-mail or chat), Availability (everything they sell can be delivered to the customer, if not from the local store then from their regional warehouses), and Delivery (they keep agreed delivery times). The way I see it, those three guarantees are what companies have to do if they want to walk the omnichannel walk.
Omnichannel can also open up new opportunities for smaller convenience stores. Petri Toivonen, Service Director for Suomen Lähikauppa, told the same session about the Siwa chain and how they have managed to get more and more people to the shops by offering several services from third-party companies (logistics, betting, lotto, etc) often with a combined online/offline interface. Again, omnichannel was the perfect topic for the event on Breaking Boundaries! (He also mentioned the upcoming rebranding all of their 660 stores under the Siwa brand.)
A couple of the keynote addresses also focused on omnichannel: Simon Russell, Director, Retail Operations Development, John Lewis (UK), speaking on “Embedding omni-channel into a successful bricks business”, and Jacques Honoré, Vice-President for IT at the HTM Group, “Improving the retail business with true omnichannel – Case Boulanger”. Both had some interesting ideas for the audience, even if I am not convinced that every payment needs to be based on a credit card as they seemed to argue.
One message I got from Pippa Goodman, from international consumer trends consultancy Future Foundation (UK), was that consumers also want omnichannel, even if they have a slightly different motivation. She said that consumers want more and more control over their purchases, over their spending, and over the promotions and ads that are sent to them. The ways she suggested that merchants react are through more and more personal communication, personal pricing and “surprises”. “John, you have been a great customer. Come in and enjoy your favourite pizza, a Tropicana, free of charge.” So again, a mix of online and offline.
There were lots of great speakers, and opportunities to meet people and talk about developments in the industry. There was a lot of curiosity about our new AfterPay offering, and especially about a new collaboration with Verifone (more on that in November). Even if I enjoy reaching out to you all with this blog, sometimes you can’t beat meeting someone face to face. (See, I even live omnichannel!!)
– Jouko Tossavainen
eCommerce Manager, arvato Financial Solutions Finland
Check my view on the payment industry: https://finance-blog.arvato.com/pay-your-own-way/
Check aravto’s Insight Report on cross-border business for omni-channel merchants: https://www.arvato.com/content/dam/arvato/documents/reports/arvato-insight/arvato_expanding_e-commerce.pdf