Omnichannel 2.0: Beyond Store Pickup

The concept of improving user experience for customers in retail, as we know it, didn’t have the definitions or details of today before the dot com burst. As I recollect shopping experiences of the 90s, the one thing that always comes to mind is how customers never really cared about personalized user experience or targeted customer satisfaction aspects in their favorite stores.

Those market leaders were the quintessential companies from the 20th century that were solely built on the trust that they had aggregated over years of disciplined trade, affordable prices and the products that could last for years. A mere couple of decades later the very idea of shopping has taken a paradigm shift even in the traditional system, thanks to the digitalization of everything.

Did you know?

Millennials are 52% more likely to engage in impulsive purchases than the other generations.

The Meteoric rise of Omnichannel

While the roots of today’s omnichannel euphoria can be traced back to a much simpler multi-channel past, the visionaries in the retail world had always known the inevitable transformation of customer engagement models into an all-encompassing design that puts consumers at its center.

To illustrate the extent of awareness of some form of omnichannel medium amongst the masses, a March 2017 survey by the International Council for Shopping Centers (ICSC) has concluded that, “consumers of all ages are seeking an integration of technology and shopping”. Some of the important observations from the study, conducted with sample of 1022 adults (18 and above) from US, include:

  • One of Omnichannel shopping’s most popular applications, click-and-collect, has gained tremendous traction as nearly 3 out of 4 consumers (87% millennials and 79% Generation X) have purchased online and collected it at store.
  • 37% of them have utilized a digital assistant in the stores to either build their shopping list or place orders.
  • A staggering 62% reported that they would want shopping experiences in stores without actually engaging with sales personnel by 2020.

This survey can be considered as just a glimpse of how deep the entrenchment of omnichannel values is amongst the business owners, solution developers and customers alike. So what is the future going to hold? How far along are we in realizing the ultimate sci-fi-esque retail reality? How can the industry diversify its channels beyond the mainstream Buy Online and Pick in Store (BOPIS) services?

Store of the Future

Farfetch, an e-commerce platform for luxury boutiques, has launched their concept of “Store of the Future” this April. From the primary login that allows customers to sign in and browse through their options throughout the store as they shop to RFID enabled clothing racks that can populate suggestions in real-time and “Digital Mirrors” that can brandish an overview of the customers’ selection with color, size and patterns, this concept store aims at pushing the retail world to keep up with the omnichannel trends.

Omnichannel 2.0

The concept of Omnichannel 2.0 extends the idea of connecting every available media with the customer in a more accurate and optimized manner. Raman Sapra of NTT Data expresses his views for the omnichannel future for businesses as, “you know who the customer is throughout; you know what the customer is looking for and what the next best action is for the customer.”

While the ultimate implementation of omnichannel 2.0 remains elusive for ordinary retailers, especially the traditional enterprises that took to the digital revolution quite recently, the digital era is open enough to accommodate any player into its sphere of innovation. Here are some of the common trends that can be the stepping stone for any enterprise for their omnichannel future.

Do you know?

A 2016 report by Forbes Insight titled “A Split Screen: Online Information and a Human Touch” has revealed that over 82% of the customers research online, especially when they are making an expensive purchases.

Endless Aisle

To combat the challenges of thriving in an exploding marketplace, the stores should somehow find a way to be the genie that can summon customer requests out of thin air, quite literally. The concept of “endless aisle” makes it possible by letting retailers connect outside their inventories and across their network so that they cannot say NO to a customer request. One of the successful implementations of this concept is done by Bon-Ton, the departmental store chain in US, where their NFC enabled shoe soles can let the customer track the model’s availability, pick a nearest store in case of unavailability and complete the order in the next few taps.


The concept of Reserve Online and Pick in Store (ROPIS) offers an omnichannel solution to this customers’ buying pattern by letting them research their products and reserve their favorites online; the suggested stores availability will then guide the prospective buyers into their stores and allow them to make the actual purchase instantaneously.

Buy in store deliver at home

The new age of millennial shopping thrives in the generation’s ability to make impulsive decisions. Buying in store and ensuring a guaranteed delivery at home anywhere allows shoppers, irrespective of their age group, to be more liberal about their overall shopping experience. One of the early, innovative adopters of this method is Bonobos, a primarily online men apparel chain that has recently started opening a chain of specialized stores called “Guideshops” with no standard inventory as everything gets ordered and delivered to the customer right to their door-step.

In Conclusion

There is no doubt that Omnichannel 2.0 technologies will succeed in bridging the notorious gap between the complex supply-chain process and the tricky last-mile delivery. The retailers are now in a unique position in the ecosystem to enable such collaborations to seamlessly accelerate them into the future and that will begin with rethinking their whole idea of their customers’ retail journey digitally.

Author : Bhargavi Seshadri, Research Analyst

Practice Head: Abhishek Mahajan, Digital Retail