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‘Omnichannel’ World Will Transform Partnerships

‘Omnichannel’ World Will Transform Partnerships

It’s hard enough to be a leading retailer or supplier in a world that stays relatively stable. Maintaining leadership in a quickly changing environment is the ultimate test.

SN has just unveiled its roster of top performers in this year’s Supplier Leadership Awards, showcasing manufacturers that are managing to stay out in front of retailers’ changing needs. These awards are for attributes such as shopper insights, new media marketing, category management and many others.

The landscape is transforming so quickly that we increasingly need new ways to describe it. In addition to discussing multichannel retailing, now there’s a new term, Omnichannel retailing, to portray how the future is shaping up.

This “describes a channel-agnostic view of how consumers experience the retailer brand,” according to a new, wide-ranging report called “Retailing 2020: Winning in a Polarized World,” from Kantar Retail and PwC US. “Shoppers increasingly demand a consistent level of experience regardless of channel or mode by which the retail is accessed,” whether that refers to online, in-store, or across multi-channel media, the report said.

Moreover, “In the future, instead of market share being narrowly defined as stealing share from your channel competitor ... ‘share of engagement’ will be a critical objective: How much of a shopper’s relevant ‘airtime’ does a brand influence or shape?”

So how will the demands on trading partners and their relationships change in this new world?

A lot will shift for manufacturers and their traditional roles, David Marcotte, senior vice president, Kantar Retail, told me. “We traditionally think of vendors as having to facilitate vendor-managed inventory, in-store execution, displays, merchandising, off-invoice reconciliation and other things,” he said. “But in the new environment, these strong delineations of roles start to blur.” Many traditional functions could be handled by automated means, such as a warehouse that uses robots to pick items one at a time, he said.

Instead, manufacturers will need to focus more on “managing consumer needs and emotions,” he added. This will be necessary because purchasing interfaces consumers use in the future will be based on business intelligence tools that will put brands and private labels more in competition with each other in trying to engage consumers.

All this will be challenging for many brands. But here’s incentive for all partners to step up to the plate. So far the companies best prepared for this future include Google, Amazon, eBay and Apple.

Need we say more?

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