Channel-agnostic shopping: the future of retail

Consumers are now conditioned to heightened levels of convenience, so retailers must now adopt a channel-agnostic approach to ensure the customer experience remains consistent across all platforms, be that online, via mobile or in-store.

However, research consistently demonstrates that customers are unhappy with the gap in what they want and what they receive in terms of service and their overall shopping experience. Seamless service and shopping experiences are sources of real competitive advantage. But all too often, customer journeys continue to be unnecessarily rife with friction points that turn off shoppers and negatively affect retail performance.

Consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices and are also researching online before making an in-store purchase. The opposite is also the case, with customers researching items in-store and then going on to make purchases online. Clearly, the in-store environment forms a crucial element of the channel-agnostic experience. However, there is an imbalance in the investment dedicated to certain channels and this counteracts an omnichannel agnostic approach.

Research from Qmatic reveals that more than half (53 per cent) of retailers agree that there’s a disconnect between the online and in-store customer experience.

Importantly, technology should be harnessed to provide an opportunity for customers to connect and feel more engaged with the retailer, and experience a more personalised interaction.

“For retailers, it’s crucial to identify the bottlenecks or friction points that hinder shoppers from finding and buying the products they need. Retailers therefore need to focus on creating extreme cross-channel convenience through services such as on-demand appointment booking for expert help, click-and-collect services, a means for customers to connect to expert help while in-store, and the reduction of waiting times for checkouts and services,” says Vanessa Walmsley, managing director at Qmatic UK.

Qmatic’s technologies enable great customer journeys because they work as an extension to a retailer’s workforce

Retailers should also be optimising the in-store environment for today’s mobile user and leveraging data to improve the experience. “Mobile technology enables customers and employees to move around the retail environment, either while they await their service interaction or as they are engaged in the interaction itself. Retailers can offer a personalised experience, via a mobile app on a tablet for example, understanding and processing the customers’ needs as they walk in the door,” Ms Walmsley says.

She also predicts that robotics will grow to help shape the retail space. “In-store robots can offer a personalised, seamless service that very much feels like an extension of how we already run our lives digitally. Robots can provide a valuable touchpoint for retailers connecting customers to service, supporting education on product information, providing way finding and capturing customer details,” she adds.

Understanding and managing the complete customer journey is essential in increasing the consumer’s satisfaction, regardless of whether this is an online journey or a physical one. By creating a positive and consistent customer experience, equally across the online and physical store, Qmatic’s technologies enable great customer journeys because they work as an extension to a retailer’s workforce.

Underpinned by the mobile revolution, Qmatic’s solutions provide the means for customers to connect to the service they need via mobile apps or a physical point such as a kiosk or robotics. Customers feel they are being served in a controlled approach, are kept informed and their experience is personalised. For retailers, they have key data insights on who is in store, what service customers need, and can manage and measure key performance metrics.

Further by leveraging data and insights, Qmatic is set up to offer a comprehensive ecosystem of technology solutions and business intelligence tools positioned across the customer journey, ensuring a channel-agnostic approach.

The connected customer journey management solution is a robust enterprise-level software that centrally manages, measures and reports on all key elements of the journey touchpoints from online to in-store. It could mean engaging a new workflow process such as providing certain services by appointment, digitising the collection part of click-and-collect functionality, routing customers to the right skills-based customer services members who are free to help with their needs – and much more.

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