The Path To Omnichannel with Chris Walton

January 23, 2021



Our special guest, Chris Walton, brings over 20 years of experience in retail to talk about the importance of omnichannel retail and how retailers might actually achieve it. What does omnichannel really mean? How many retailers have actually achieved it? If not, what’s stopping them?

  • ​​We ask these questions and more of our special guest, Chris Walton, founder and co-CEO of Omni Talk, one of the fastest-growing blogs in retail. Chris has experience across virtually every discipline in retail, so you can trust he knows what he’s talking about when he says omnichannel is the only way forward for retailers. 
  • In this podcast, he walks us through the 5 stages of omnichannel and the importance of technology in retail, KPIs for organizational development, unified retail commerce, where most retailers get stuck, and how to get out of the rut. Combining technological knowledge with retail store operations expertise and a passion for the subject, Chris is committed to steering retailers down the right path.

Conversation Rundown

[ 5:28-7:15 ] Why doing just BOPIS doesn't make you an omnichannel retailer?
According to Chris Walton, what does omnichannel really mean? Does a BOPIS initiative alone make you an omnichannel brand? Walton and Anil don't think so - it's about putting the foundational technology in place to understand data in real-time across every touchpoint you have with your consumer. Very few retailers really put their customers at the center of the shopping experience. Instead, they adopt piecemeal omnichannel experiences to delay the transformation that should be occurring across the industry.

[ 13:46-15:25 ] Physical retail is like a mouse on a browser
eCommerce retailers can analyze everything online consumers do - everything they click on, everything they see. We don't have that ability in physical retail, so it can't be optimized to its fullest degree. That's the next step for retailers: being able to understand what consumers look for, what they want, and how they're interacting with your brand no matter where they shop. According to Chris, the only US retailer that has come close to achieving it is Amazon through computer vision and Amazon Go.

[ 15:26-17:31 ] What is omnichannel nirvana?
It involves having a deep understanding of your customer no matter where they are in their buying cycle and where they're shopping. Everyone is still trying to reach that goal. To achieve it, you need to have an understanding of the end-to-end line of social commerce. At one end you have social media and at the other end you have a marketplace. If you can connect those two pieces, you know everything about your consumer.

[ 22:33-23:41 ] Achieving omnichannel retail at a reasonable technology cost.
When retailers think about inventory, they're mostly thinking about one thing: cost. That's why they're not quick to adopt newer technologies. They're trying to minimize costs, not improve customer experiences. The pandemic has shown that inventory is a very important criteria in the purchase funnel. Customers make decisions based on how quickly they will be able to get their products and where they'll be able to pick them up. Retailers need to start looking at two things: cost and customer experience. The best technologies cater to both.

[ 35:56-37:41 ] How FB/IG are becoming the 21st-century mall?
Social commerce is just another tool for retailers. Instagram/Facebook is becoming the 21st-century mall. Chris Walton explains how Instagram put the shopping feature at the center of the Instagram platform re-design. Users can now easily browse images they like and tap their screen to checkout. It's an incredibly inspirational way to shop, and it's one of the many futures of retail. Brands that haven't come to accept social commerce as a part of their retail strategy need to catch up.

Meet the Experts

Chris Walton is an accomplished Senior Executive and one of the leading omnichannel experts in the world, with nearly 20 years of success within the retail and retail technology industries. He has high-level executive experience and is well-versed across nearly every discipline within retail, including merchandising, store operations, inventory management, product design, forecasting, e-commerce, pricing and promotions, product development, and store design and architecture.

Currently, he is the CEO and Founder of Third Haus, the retail lab joint venture with Xenia Retail, and Omni Talk, one of the fastest-growing blogs in retail.

Retail Tips & Tweetables

Omnichannel essentially means that the consumer is at the center of consumption.

Omnichannel retailing is about understanding your market dynamics at the individual customer level.

Facebook and Instagram are becoming the 21st-century mall.

Omnichannel or New Retail or Harmonised Retail, everything is the same.

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