Becoming an Omni-channel Retailer

White Paper

Omni-channel is all about delivering seamless shopping experiences for your customers regardless of how they choose to buy and take delivery of their purchases. This whitepaper outlines the steps you need to take to enhance your current business processes in order to become a full omni-channel retailer. Download now.

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Traditional eCommerce

The traditional approach to eCommerce has been to keep eCommerce totally separate from the retail business.

Often the warehouse has separate stock from the retail stores (sometimes different stock) and eCommerce is often recorded as a separate line on the P&L

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There are some non-technology solutions which can make this scenario feel more omni-channel:

  • Allow customers to return eCommerce products to stores (even if this is facilitated by the store posting it back to the warehouse)
  • Allow customers to order stock from within a store, even if this is a paper based solution

Deliver to Store

The next logical step in Omni-Channel retailing is Deliver to store. In this scenario an eCommerce customer has the option to have goods delivered to store.

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This enhanced process gives customers obvious benefits such as:

  • Removing the worry of missed deliveries and waiting for couriers to arrive
  • Collecting purchases at a convenient time
  • Reduced or free delivery costs for store collection

In addition retailers benefit from the opportunity to sell more product when the item is collected

From a technology point of view only small changes need to be made to the eCommerce platform:

  • Allow a user to select alternative delivery address
  • Allow a delivery address of a store to be selected from a drop down list
  • If possible allow users to click their favourite store

From a process point of view, this can be simply deployed by the same home delivery company deliver the parcel to store, if the normal store delivery mechanism can be used then delivery costs can be reduced.

Often this is called “Click and Collect”, but due to the fact that the stock is coming from the central warehouse this is not strictly correct, as there will be at least a 24 hour delay before collection.

Order In-Store

The opposite of deliver to store, allowing customers to order from the eCommerce site from within the store.

In this scenario a kiosk is placed in store to allow the customer to order from a broader range of stock than is held in the store, this is often called “Endless Aisle”. Alternatively a retail assistant may be given a tablet device allowing them to order in-store with the customer, this is called “assisted sell”.

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The advantages of this system include:

  • The customer gains access to a broader range of product, very useful for retailers with limited space, or have a complex product catalogue
  • The retailer has a greater chance to upsell and cross sell
  • The retailer gets new eCommerce customers and contacts by encouraging sign up in store

From a technology point of view, this can be deployed quite quickly by placing devices in store which show the standard online eCommerce site. The customer experience will be further enhanced if this can be deployed with a deliver to store option allowing the customer to decide where there order is delivered.

Enhancements can be made by incorporating an in-store specific version of the web page, consider:

  • Large icons for quick and simple browsing
  • Enabling tablet specific swipe
  • Large search window on the home screen
  • Barcode scanning to quickly find a product in store, and offer alternatives.

From a process point of view this simply needs devices to be placed in store and staff trained on how to use them. Once the order is placed, it is treated like a standard eCommerce or deliver to store order.

Click and Collect

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From a technology point this solution is normally more difficult to expose, as the eCommerce system will need to be aware of all the stock in all locations (possible multi-warehouse as well as all of the stores), however when this information is available many more features can be added to the front end:

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  • Stock in local store, for immediate collection
  • Nearest store with stock, for immediate collection
  • If no stock is available store show stock in central warehouse which can be delivered to store or home
  • Lead time of stock if currently unavailable.

Full OmniChannel

Once Deliver to Store, Order in Store and Store Stock functions are available across in store, online and mobile channels then a complete Omnichannel experience can be enhanced by:

  • Consolidating look and feel across printed media, www, mobile, tablet, kiosk
  • Integrated marketing activities based on access point and geolocation
  • PopUp stores with endless aisle technology
  • Integrating the next technology – XboxOne for purchasing while watching TV or playing games

Business Issues

As well as technology issues there are other business things to think about:

  • Sales recognition – one of the biggest internal problems with Omnichannel will be the fact that eCommerce and Retail sales are often separate business units, which may mean that retail staff will not be incentivised to push omnichannel sales. This is often resolved by giving credit for any eCommerce sales in an area in which there is a retail store
  • Refunds in Store – often the ePOS system is not integrated with the eCommerce system so refunding an online order instore can cause significant issues with the backend finance system
  • Customer Care, to provide full Omnichannel experience the Customer care team must hava a single view of stock, customer and orders no-matter where the order was placed.

Our Recommended Omnichannel Platform - hybris Software

The hybris eCommerce platform is designed from the ground up to deliver a seamless Omnichannel experience and its deployment can save a lot of time and effort even if you already have a standard eCommerce platform.

Key features of hybris that make it ideal for delivering Omnichannel eCommerce include;

  • Best of Breed PIM, providing a single view of product which can be used across web, mobile, and print
  • WCMS which can present pages optimised to specific devices or specific users
  • Customer Care cockpit which allows customer care employees to order on-behalf of, or modify customer orders, as well see order history
  • Single view of stock – enabling store and warehouse stock to be instantly available on the website
  • Mobile accelerator – improving on the existing mobile offering allowing the quick deployment of native android or iOS apps.
  • Using geo-location and single view of stock to enable “Find Stock Near Me” functionality
  • Instore functionality to quickly expose the full product range via a tablet or kiosk devise

Eclipse Group Solutions is a hybris Gold partner and works with a number of well known organisations to help them improve the way they deliver Omnichannel to their customers.


This paper has shown that there are several easy ways to progress towards Omnichannel, but to fully become Omnichannel you should consider an eCommerce system which is capable of supporting stock in multiple locations with the ability to build business rules around that stock so it can be exposed to customers in a convenient way.

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