Changes in omnichannel with Dave Huntoon

Our Director of Strategic Account Management, Dave Huntoon, recently responded to some questions about omnichannel where he touched on challenges currently being faced and how technologies like the Metaverse are the next generation of omnichannel services.

How is omnichannel developing right now?

Omnichannel is developing each day as the industry changes and adjusts to the aftermath of Covid-19. There’s no denying that consumers have become accustomed to e-commerce, particularly with restaurants and retailers who had to adopt Deliveroo-style services. There is a huge increase in the number of retailers incorporating omnichannel into their business strategies, and making an easier, intuitive interface for users to navigate represents an enormous growth opportunity.

What are the challenges businesses face building a post-pandemic omnichannel?

The pandemic caused an explosion in e-commerce omnichannel strategies to help retailers provide goods and services as normal, but this has since normalized back to traditional growth. Consumers today are spoiled – they want to be able to order goods when and how it suits them (in person or via the Internet), and expect a seamless experience each time.

In the food and beverage industry, in particular, outsourcing the interaction between consumers and retailer or restaurant is currently a challenge as the delivery experience itself can have a negative impact on consumer perceptions. (If a delivery driver fails to bring the entire order, whose fault is it?) Takeaway pizza chains have got this right as they employ their own drivers and know what service their customers will be receiving, but the challenge remains for those who continue to relinquish control to third-party providers. Many third-party delivery companies prefer to “own” the relationship between the restaurant and the customer – the restaurant may not even know who their delivery customers are, and are implicitly ceding the customer experience to the third-party provider.

How can technology help businesses create next-generation omnichannel services?

Next-generation omnichannel services – from the metaverse to NFTs – can help create seamless customer interactions and an improved service online, while tapping into innovations that shoppers now expect from retailers.

What are the critical elements of connecting physical retail spaces, digital channels and now the Metaverse together?

It will take time to tie physical spaces, digital channels, and the Metaverse together. Consumers can now order digital merchandise and NFTs in the Metaverse – the challenge will come when a user wants to order fish and chips in the Metaverse and have it appear on their doorstep 15 minutes later.

For retailers, there remains a generational challenge among their customers. There is currently a disconnect as older generations aren’t as in touch with technology as millennials and Gen Z are; older shoppers will likely continue to gravitate to traditional shopping channels such as in-store or traditional web shopping until the Metaverse becomes more intuitive. Ultimately, the Metaverse will be synonymous with a retailer’s website, although this is some time off.

How is consumer experience shaping the next-generation omnichannel strategy?

Consumers have a significant role to play in shaping the next generation omnichannel experience. Omnichannel retail must be able to keep up with what the consumer wants and deliver it to a high standard. Operators are toying with the idea of being completely autonomous and leaving the delivery in the hands of a third-party delivery service or even robots and drones as we’re already seeing. And so, this is evolving omnichannel strategies even further.

How will a business’s IT infrastructure need to change to support new omnichannel activity?

We’re seeing IT infrastructure change already and the demand for appropriate personnel to make this happen is enormous from a hiring perspective. Some companies have paid two-three times their normal salary to get digitally-savvy talent into the business. With shoppers becoming more demanding, businesses must find a way to make their infrastructure painless, seamless, and easy for consumers to buy.

Any other comments you would like to make?

Ultimately, the Metaverse is the most exciting part of the next generation of omnichannel and will constantly be changing the strategies retailers put in place. It will be interesting to watch this and to see what opportunities arise looking towards the future.

To learn more about how companies are utilizing the Metaverse in their omnichannel strategy, watch this session from the Kalibrate Innovation Summit. hosted by Dave Huntoon and Carrianne Cusack.

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