By Rosa Portocarrero, Product Manager

While at earlier this month, I attended the session “Defining Omni-Channel for Your Brand: Setting Priorities to Meet Customer Expectations,” and it got me thinking about what omni-channel strategies mean for retailers, especially as we approach the holiday shopping season.

The concept of an omni-channel shopper is undeniable. With the ability to shop anywhere at any time with any device, consumers commonly discover, investigate and select products in non-store channels – like web and mobile – even when purchases are made in the store.

Because of this, having an omni-channel strategy can no longer be seen as a “nice to have.” It’s a critical element for success in today’s retail reality; retailers need to be able to see their customers’ experiences across the entire retail organization in order to meet expectations and deliver a seamless, “channel-less” shopping experience.

Another element of omni-channel capabilities that retailers are starting to understand is the importance of having an effective order management solution in place, something we’ve talked about in a previous post.

With an omni-channel fulfillment strategy, retailers can gain visibility into global inventory and convert the store to serve as an extension of commerce fulfillment. And when retailers better understand customer preferences for speed and proximity to get a product, they can be more effective in offering what their customers want, like same-day delivery, buy online/pick up in store or reserve online/pay in store.

The retailers that successfully offer a complete shopping experience by letting their customers decide what, how and when to buy across multiple channels will be the ones who gain an advantage over their competitors. This holiday season will be a great test for many retailers.