Omni-Channel Retailing : Blurring the lines between online and offline
Omni-channel retailing has developed as an extension of multi-channel retailing. The difference between the concepts is the level of integration, where an omni-channel requires seamless and complete channel integration compared to a multi-channel where the level of integration varies from non-existing to high. Today’s customers expect an integrated shopping experience where they can combine the different channels according to their preferences and omni-channel is a way for retailers to meet this need.
The purpose of this thesis is to explore the concept of omni-channel retailing and its implementation in retail firms operating in the Swedish market.
This study is based on an interpretive approach and takes the form of an exploratory multiple case study through the investigation of four retailers. Qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews and the findings were analyzed abductively.
The conclusion of this thesis is that the investigated retailers still have, more or less, a long way to go in their integrative efforts. The retailer that has come the furthest in their effort has only implemented nine out of fifteen omni-channel criteria. Three main incentives for implementing an omni-channel strategy were identified. These are to respond to customer demands, to optimize the individual sales channels and to gain a competitive advantage. Additionally, several challenges arise as the retailer moves towards an omni-channel. These include technological investments, change management, channel conflict, return management and consistency. Furthermore, five potential sources of these challenges were identified as technological requirements, organizational changes, sales accreditation policies, in-store returns and finally the franchise business model.
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