Why are retailers getting nervous of omni-channel thinking?

Friday 13 June 2014

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Why are retailers getting nervous of omni-channel thinking?

ICT-technology presents itself as the saviour of all the retail troubles. Omni-channel retails tend to show a brighter profit then the retailers who are stuck in the one-dimensional-time. Even though, a lot of the retailers are getting nervous only hearing the word multi- or omnichannel.


“The answer is not as simple as let’s get an app and we will flourish”. This is a quote of Lieneke van der Laan, Strategy&Format consultant for JosDeVries The Retail Company. It is about time to get in contact with her, especially because of the new publication of the formula-building-company. ‘New Customer Journey’ is the title of this beautifully made publication. This inch thick book is meant to be a compass for retailers during this turbulent retail times. The reason that this book is published in the beginning of this year is the European trade fair Euroshop in Germany that took place in February. JosDeVries TRC treasures the tradition to publish a book every three years to launch at the Euroship. This is book number eight. Not only Lieneke van der Laan, but also Ernst Consenheim will tell us more about ‘New Customer Journey’. He is the director of Strategy&Format for JosDeVries The Retail Company.


No App

The publication, they tell us, is meant as a reflection of the retail actuality. In the first chapter is an interpretation of the new retail landscape, chapter two is about the creation of a successful brand identity and the third chapter introduces the new customer journey. Ernst Consenheim: “The retail sector has been dominated by the idea of ‘anywhere, anytime’. The retailer wants to be in contact with his customer everywhere and always. All retailers have a different approach to this. Because of the overwhelming amount of new possibilities some get cold feet. These retailers want to shut the new technology out. Others grab on to everything in fear to miss new possibilities. This means that their story is fragmentised and looses purpose. The investment costs are also not always easy to justify. The development of the ‘Appie-App’ of the Dutch market leader in Supermarkets Albert Heijn cost tons of money. That’s a lot of money just to invest in one touchpoint. Does it make sense to try to anticipate to all developments? This is the question that Ernst asks himself.


Basic position

To ask the question is to answer it. No. Of course this does not make sense. If an app, or a swipe screen or an intelligent fitting room does not add any value to your concept, then you should not invest in it. The key is to find out what the basic positioning should be and which choices need to be made. Ernst Consenheim: “But anyway you can be sure of one thing: if you ignore the omni-channel need of the customer, you will not be future-proof.”



The big challenge for nowadays retailers is to explore their own unique and distinctive qualities. Rational (functional) but also emotional qualities are of importance. These emotional qualities should also be included in the exploring of the concept. The combination of both qualities should be leading for the positioning. A distinctive character is what makes the difference according to Lieneke van der Laan. The retail landscape of transparency and globalisation makes this a complicated task. “Only if the unique positioning is completely clear you can start developing a corresponding omni-channel strategy. The use of new developments is a result of your positioning, never the other way around.


New approach

Ernst Consenheim: “Retailers are to much focused to strategic choices in categories like price and volume. We want to introduce a whole new approach. We would make the store experience and contact moments with the customer dominant. The products a retailer offers are actually proof of the chosen positioning. This conviction means a change in thinking for a lot retail organisations.


The big question

The book puts a stress on ‘the new customer journey-model’ developed by JosDeVries TRC itself. The shopping behaviour of the customer is separated in three phases: before, during and after the store visit. The big question is what the retailer can add in each phase.  Ernst Consenheim: “The shopper will have a need for two different things. Sometimes there is a need for added value and corresponding experience. Sometimes there is a need for easy, convenient and quickly. Within these two different shopping routes there a all kind of relevant touchpoints available. Every retailer can their own meaning to this. But it’s important to keep in mind that from the view point of the physical store experience is always relevant. The store experience and experience of the touchpoints should fit seamlessly.

Published original in Dutch, click here.


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