Innovación: Merchants deck the halls with omnichannel this holiday season

Whether they know it or not, the one thing that’s at the top of many consumers’ wish list for the holiday is an omnichannel shopping experience.

Though that’s not the term they would use, consumers today have increasingly high expectations for the ability to shop anytime and anywhere and to pay in any way they wish — with an expectation that merchants will make it happen.

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With the holiday season in full swing and the new year right around the corner, Qualpay CEO Craig Gass sat down with Karen Webster to offer some insights into the current state of the omnichannel experience and how merchants can make the purchasing journey that omnishoppers desire a reality.

‘Tis The Season For Omnichannel Consumers

This year’s holiday shopping season is already off to a strong (omnichannel) start.

Industry data has shown that 1.2 billion Black Friday orders were placed via mobile, up 33 percent from last year. Research also revealed that nearly 33 percent of consumers who buy online also pick up in store, and 60 percent of those consumers spend more during that in-store visit.

It’s clear that the opportunity to capitalize on omnichannel is ripe, but that doesn’t mean that merchants are ready (or able) to step up to the plate and deliver.

“Merchants today are clearly looking at omnichannel as a way to not only boost sales but improve the customer experience but, with that, comes a certain level of complexity,” Gass explained.

While the change in consumer behavior has been rapid, the pace of merchants being able to keep up with more omnichannel-focused demands and expectations has taken more time.

Most consumers probably aren’t familiar with the term “omnichannel,” but they do know exactly what they expect when it comes to shopping: a unified experience across channels that is not just seamless but convenient.

But for merchants, the concept of omnichannel may depend on the nature of their business.

Gass explained that many merchants look at omnichannel more from a multichannel perspective, because each channel is different and requires different skill sets to run operations across each one.

“I see a little bit of disconnect between the way consumers look at omnichannel and the way merchants look at it,” he added. But ultimately, Gass pointed out, merchants will get to the point of seeing omnichannel as the “single channel” that consumers do because they also want a seamless experience, consistent branding and a consistent product presentation for their business.

The Mobile Quest

Gass said that mobile is a perfect example of the synergy that can work in an omnichannel environment.

The mobile device is now an integral part of the shopping experience for many consumers. The purchase journey today is about mobile, but it’s also about using mobile in a variety of ways to support the purchase decision. That can include product reviews, in-depth discovery and even searching out better deals.

Shoppers are going mobile, and it may be a mistake for merchants not to accommodate that growing shift.

From the consumer perspective, it’s not always obvious if promotions, deals and prices are consistent across channels, which is where mobile has quickly answered the call.

“I think that’s part of what’s driving the collapse into omnichannel. Omnichannel has become a term of art for the concept that you’re taking various sales channels and collapsing them,” Gass noted.

A key piece of making sense of the omnichannel puzzle is having a clear picture of payments and inventory across channels.

Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily possible today for a lot of merchants.

As Gass explained, each new channel a merchant introduces drives even more complexity in ensuring everything is consistent and seamless for consumers.

The Mobile Quest

Gass said that mobile is a perfect example of the synergy that can work in an omnichannel environment.

The mobile device is now an integral part of the shopping experience for many consumers. The purchase journey today is about mobile, but it’s also about using mobile in a variety of ways to support the purchase decision. That can include product reviews, in-depth discovery and even searching out better deals.

Shoppers are going mobile, and it may be a mistake for merchants not to accommodate that growing shift.

From the consumer perspective, it’s not always obvious if promotions, deals and prices are consistent across channels, which is where mobile has quickly answered the call.

“I think that’s part of what’s driving the collapse into omnichannel. Omnichannel has become a term of art for the concept that you’re taking various sales channels and collapsing them,” Gass noted.

A key piece of making sense of the omnichannel puzzle is having a clear picture of payments and inventory across channels.

Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily possible today for a lot of merchants.

As Gass explained, each new channel a merchant introduces drives even more complexity in ensuring everything is consistent and seamless for consumers.

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