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Industry pundits have been talking about omni-channel as ‘the retail of tomorrow’ for some time now. The trouble is, tomorrow is now. Omni-channel is today’s reality and its formats and dynamics are the key to survival, success or failure for the retail sector.
Customers’ buying habits have already shifted, altering the retail landscape at a rate that has left many organisations in its wake, as evidenced by the recent collapse of many high street brands like HMV, Blockbuster and Comet. Yet, despite such eloquent demonstrations of the dangers of clinging to tradition as things change, we discovered that retailers are still ignoring many of the warning signs.
In our experience of sourcing leadership and managing talent for top retailers across geographies and categories, we have seen the industry adapt and evolve, but never have the consequences of a faux pas been so far-reaching as the risks involved in getting the omni-channel equation wrong. although nobody really knows what tomorrow’s omni-channel will look like and which technological developments will have the greatest impact, retailers must understand that
their customers are not interested in technology, but in their product, brand and service. So any innovation that they look to develop must focus on whether it is going to deliver a better customer experience. new technology in itself is not going to do it: retailers need the best human talent to match the appetite for an omnichannel provision. the industry must ensure they have the right people strategy, organisational design and culture, but most importantly they must address the way companies compensate, incentivise and reward their senior digital talent.
We explored best practices and the implications of not tackling skill gaps in retail with an international survey into key omni-channel leaders in the industry. the task we set ourselves presented a challenge right from the start: Who will we be interviewing? there is no single profile that is the ‘right’ one to lead the omni channel strategy: in some markets it falls to the marketing director, in others the retail director or a multichannel director, but rarely are all these skills combined into one function – the omni-channel one.
While it is widely accepted that the industry needs omni-channel professionals to meet the consumer demand for fully integrated and immersive customer
experiences, retailers are ignoring the value of retaining the very talent that makes it possible. at their own risk: we discovered that more than half of
the top omni-channel leaders are actively looking for new job opportunities and being contacted at least once a week by head hunters.