As the world turns its attention to the Winter Olympics, today sees the launch of our own retail-specific games - The 2014 Omni-lympics.

As the world turns its attention to the Winter Olympics, today sees the launch of our own retail-specific games - The 2014 Omni-lympics.

And while Sochi will record the endeavours of alpine athletes from across the globe, eCommera, has undertaken benchmark research of a select 50 UK retailers who will compete against each other in three key areas or ‘events’.

Undeniably the term omni-channel has moved from being the buzzword du jour to the new reality for global retail. According to a recent study by Forrester Consulting, 25% of retailers already have omni-channel capabilities in place. This number is expected to grow to 75% over the next 12 months. However, there is a question of how much of this capability is a short-term fix rather than a long-term enabler of profitable business success. 

In many ways, the new world order of retail is like the Olympics:

  1. Retail is a competition. To win, competitors have to participate in a number of ‘events’ – like customer service, m-commerce and fulfilment. In omni-channel the number of ‘events’ is much greater than in single or multi-channel retail. While some fare better in some events than others, the overall winner will excel at them all.
  2. Winning is an investment. Retailers, like athletes, need to invest time and money in order to get competition-ready. Commitment to winning must be absolute.
  3. ‘Training’ is a constant. The winners are only the ‘winners’ so long as they stand atop the podium. As soon as the ‘medal ceremony’ ends, the training must begin again.
  4. New events will be added. Retail is one of the fastest changing industries; to keep up and stay ahead retailers must learn to excel at new ‘events’. So while, the games in Sochi will see the premiere of new events like the biathlon mixed relay and snowboard slopestyle, retailers in the UK will be busy learning about clienteling software and working to achieve a single view of the customer.

So look out over the coming weeks as we announce the findings and analysis from three critical events:

  • The ‘supply chain’ slalom
  • The ‘snow-cross’ channel experience
  • The ‘personalisation’ half pipe

And as rigorous as the Olympic skating judges, we will be awarding marks for a range of activities, from visibility of in-store inventory online to the responsive nature of mobile websites. In turn we will demonstrate how UK retailers are progressing toward a true omni-channel retail world.

Let the games commence!

Mark Williams, European Sales Director, eCommera