The online retail experience reached new heights during the pandemic, with teams working around the clock to ensure customer experience surpassed expectations and brand loyalty was retained. This approach was a resounding success in Australia, with many brands experiencing major sales peaks through their amplified online presence.

But as companies re-opened their doors to consumers searching for brick-and-mortar shopping experiences, a new array of challenges presented. The physical shopping experience needed to evolve to meet new customer expectations, and quickly. Bringing the physical store in line with the digital to deliver interactive and personalised experiences moved to the top of the priority list for many retailers.

However, the evolution of online shopping platforms occurred progressively both before and during the pandemic, giving brands time to review and implement findings from research and development, market analysis, and customer feedback. The push to transform the physical shopping experience simply did not have the same gift of time. With customers already back in store searching the shelves for their next purchase, brands had to make quick decisions and act swiftly to retain loyalty and support.

Leveraging online success to enhance the physical experience

During the pandemic, brands around the country successfully captured the attention of their target audiences, building online stores and experiences curated to the needs of their customers. The benefits of a browsing cache and cookies served retailers well, with digital insights streamlining the experience for users based on their preferences, and general shopping habits. Consumers became accustomed to a curated shopping experience where a large portion of the work is done for them through nuanced backend operations providing alternative suggestions and add-ons. But translating this digital relationship to physical stores doesn’t occur overnight with brands needing to move quickly to meet new expectations in-store whilst managing cost, resource and timeline pressures. 

Removing silos paramount to omnichannel success

Speed and efficiency are now top priorities for brands looking to roll out amplified store offerings that integrate with online platforms. These goals can be achieved on time and within budget through communication and effective project management. Meeting budgets and deadlines for one in-store upgrade is a sizable task for any retailer, but post-pandemic, brands around the country began to approach the task simultaneously at multiple locations with teams spread across different locations and channels. This work is occurring in tandem with ongoing digital store updates resulting in hundreds, if not thousands, of tasks for teams to complete.

Automated, cross-functional systems that remove silos between internal and external collaborators are one of the most effective strategies for retailers. Keeping tasks in one, centralised location allows all parties to keep on top of priorities and deadlines as they move, ensuring better overall workflow. Platforms that allow teams to move effortlessly between CRM, logistics and HR processes in one place without having to switch between various systems reduce information mismanagement.

Once complete, the omnichannel transformation process can be assessed, improved and replicated for future efforts to streamline the approach and improve delivery timings. The ability to manage this process efficiently is a game-changer for companies looking to transform both physical and digital stores through an elevated omnichannel approach.

Embracing technology to stream ahead of the competition 

Bringing a true omnichannel experience to life is the priority focus for retailers, from fashion labels and convenience stores to large-scale office suppliers. Omnichannel is considered the blueprint for sustained success with its ability to drive customer loyalty, improve retention, and enhance engagement.

However, effective strategies can only be driven with each department working in sync towards shared goals and deadlines. Driving strategy forward through data analysis, and sharing these insights with each team member to ensure goals remain aligned is paramount to success. Companies that implement work optimisation platforms to manage the rollout of omnichannel strategies are now powering ahead. With the data on hand to adjust processes, companies gain a competitive advantage by constantly meeting evolving customer expectations.

Gavin Watson is retail, marketing, creative and manufacturing industry lead at