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Omni-channel Challenges Facing the Retail Industry

This is a time of unprecedented changes in retail, where shopping experiences now encompass so much more than traditional storefronts and their physical boundaries. The concept of an omni-channel approach has now emerged as a vital element of the strategy successful businesses need to adopt. With the integration of diverse channels such as brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce websites, mobile apps, and social media platforms, retailers are presented with a wide range of possibilities, choices, and challenges. Read on to find out precisely what the omni-channel challenges the retail industry faces, and how artificial intelligence (AI) can help address these.


Omni-channel Challenges in Retail

There are a number of omni-channel challenges for retail, and some of these require specific retail contact centre solutions. Here are some to consider.

Siloed Customer Experience 

One of the biggest problems faced by retailers is delivering a consistent and unified customer experience across all channels. Often, retailers struggle with fragmented customer data, disconnected systems, and inconsistent messaging, leading to disjointed interactions.

Customers are often frustrated with the level of service they receive due to having to repeat their issue to multiple representatives. Customers expect seamless transitions between channels, which could include starting a purchase online and completing it in-store. This lack of cohesion can frustrate customers and undermine their loyalty.

Channel Consistency 

Consistency across channels is crucial to providing a seamless customer experience. Retailers often face challenges in ensuring consistent branding, messaging, and pricing across all channels, and these issues can confuse customers and erode trust. Retailers have to establish robust processes and systems that enable consistent customer experiences across all channels. Cirrus can help you do just that. For instance, we’ve helped the Theo Paphitis Retail Group deliver a seamless customer experience across all its brands and channel. This makes a huge difference in the customer experience, helps build loyalty and saves time on both the agent and customer side.

Data Integration and Analytics 

Integrating data from channels and systems is essential if you want to gain an accurate view of customers and give them personalised experiences. The problem is that disparate data sources, incompatible systems, and data silos can hinder retailers from obtaining a unified view of customer behaviour and preferences. Without this important data integration, retailers could struggle to deliver targeted marketing campaigns, tailored recommendations, and excellent customer service. This is something contact centre agents need to factor in.

Technology Integration 

Adopting an omni-channel approach necessitates the integration of various technology platforms and systems, but retailers often face setbacks in integrating older systems with newer ones and still maintaining a smooth flow of data (which leads to better customer interactions). The integration of AI-powered tools and platforms becomes essential in harmonising different systems, automating processes, and delivering consistent customer experiences across channels.

AI’s Role in Overcoming Omni-channel Challenges in Retail

AI is not only transforming customer experiences but also changing the way retailers navigate the complexities of omni-channel operations. By leveraging AI-powered solutions, retailers can streamline their operations, enhance customer experiences, and gain a better competitive edge. Here are some details.

Intelligent Customer Interactions 

AI-powered virtual assistants have become invaluable assets for retailers. These intelligent systems can handle routine customer queries, provide product recommendations, and offer personalised assistance around the clock. By employing natural language processing (NLP) algorithms, virtual assistants can understand and respond to a variety of customer enquiries in a human-like manner, significantly reducing response times and improving customer satisfaction. Companies such as the shoe retailer Clarks have reported a tremendous increase in customer satisfaction, as well as agent engagement, as a result of upgrading their systems to Cirrus.

With almost 14% of contact centre managers estimating that systems will be automated by 2029, understanding more about how these bots and assistants work can be vital to success.

Seamless Channel Integration 

Retail contact centre solutions infused with AI technology empower retailers to create a unified platform for customer interactions. AI algorithms can analyse customer data from various touchpoints, such as social media, email, and live chat, and provide a consolidated view of customer interactions. This approach enables agents to deliver consistent and personalised experiences, which is something that most customers feel is important. This is facilitated with access to comprehensive customer insights, purchase history, and preferences.

Plus, by seamlessly integrating channels, AI ensures that customers can switch between platforms without losing context, resulting in a frictionless omni-channel experience. As Jason Roos, CEO of Cirrus, says: “AI has completely changed the way retail contact centres are able to work, giving them the chance to gain a whole view of customers and their previous interactions and thereby giving help that can be relied on and trusted.”

Intelligent Resource Optimisation 

In a complex omni-channel environment, AI-powered routing algorithms play a pivotal role in efficiently allocating customer queries to the most suitable agents. These intelligent routing mechanisms take into account factors such as skills, workload, and historical performance to ensure that customers are connected with the right agent in a timely manner. And AI-driven workforce management tools help optimise staffing levels and scheduling based on anticipated demand across channels.

At Cirrus, we can enable retailers to optimise their operations and elevate customer experience with the help of AI technology. For instance, we helped catering supplier Nisbets bridge the gap between their team and customer demand by providing them with resources to plan and manage their teams. With our AI solutions, Nisbets was able to improve adherence by 20% while achieving an average queue time of just 16 seconds, which is a dramatic improvement over their previous customer service experience.

Final Thoughts 

As retailers continue to embrace the challenges and opportunities of the omni-channel landscape, AI retail contact centre solutions emerge as indispensable tools in their arsenal. By leveraging AI to improve customer interactions, enable seamless channel integration, personalise experiences, optimise resources, and other positive contributions, retailers can thrive in the interconnected world of omni-channel retail.

At Cirrus, we recognise that AI is the way forward for retailers looking to stay competitive in the omni-channel environment. Our AI-driven solutions can help you improve customer service, enhance customer experience, and pave the way for success in the fast-changing retail landscape. Contact us today to find out how you can leverage AI to drive growth today.