Physical stores, a central role in the consumer’s omnichannel experience.

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Despite the fact that over the last year the interest of companies in omnichannel has grown, in Italy, only one in five of those companies that are working on the subject declares to have structured a “unique view of the customer” that allows having a real knowledge of their characteristics and their interests and only a third has structured advanced analysis on this data, for example, to predict future behaviour.

Physical stores and omnichannel experience, the research

It is now a widespread awareness in the retail market, but not only, that the ability to collect, standardize, integrate and analyze data to improve their relationship with customers, in addition to commercial performance, is the territory in which the game of competition between companies is played. Despite this, however, according to the Omnichannel customer experience Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano, only a third of companies consider their ability to generate business value from the data collected on customers to be satisfactory.

Physical stores and digitalization

Digitization has changed the needs and expectations of consumers: in 60 seconds billions of data are uploaded on the Internet and tens of millions of interrelationships are developed. An increasing number of consumers also expect rapid and flexible responses from consumer goods companies. In this sense, omnichannel marketing represents an opportunity for companies to expand their business and, at the same time, a necessity to respond to the demands of consumers who “live” omnichannel marketing and the possibility of switching from one channel to another, whether physical or digital, as a prerequisite for their relationship with the sign and the brand they are addressing, and to the competition of pure internet players who, in turn, are approaching omnichannel marketing by taking the reverse route, from online to physical points of sale. Speed, coherence, personalization, interactivity, sociality, experientiality are keywords to describe the evolutionary path that is required for companies to manage in an integrated way channels to ensure economic sustainability in the medium-long term.

Physical stores, the relationship with online according to Google

Still on the subject of omnichannel, at the end of October Alphabet (a company based in California that includes all the holdings of the Google group) made public its performance results for the third quarter of 2021. What emerged was the overwhelming role of industry sales. Although the growth of the digital sector has been explosive over the past 20 months, it was noted that with the reductions in restrictions, physical stores have also performed very well.

This now makes it critical to think strategically from an omnichannel perspective.  Suffice it to say that searches for “open near me” stores have quadrupled globally since last year. This means that customers increasingly tend to inquire online about the location, distance and hours of physical stores and then reach the store to complete their purchase.

Physical stores, the support of Artificial Intelligence in the definition of the offer

This increasingly common behaviour leads companies to define a consistent offer and experience across all sales channels. To use an omnichannel strategy, it is necessary to have advanced IT systems that can standardize information from different sources, as well as codify and align stock values, differentiate prices and apply for promotions according to the sales channel used. In this context, artificial intelligence represents a valid alternative to reduce losses, improve sales forecasts, automate warehouse logistics, create promotions and define optimized prices.

Just as adopting an omnichannel strategy, which integrates physical and virtual touchpoints, has become a fundamental aspect to increase one’s competitive advantage and to provide a shopping experience adapted to the needs glimpsed by modern customers, using AI-based software, such as those developed by Premoneo’s team with and with client companies, has also become an essential tool to maximize commercial performance.

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