Retailers are increasingly drawn to omnichannel solutions that integrate sales channels, simplify business management and encourage closer customer relationships, in accordance with consumers’ changing habits and behaviors.

Lightspeed, a company that offers point-of-sale solutions for retailers and restaurateurs, created “Ecom,” a product that targets independent retailers and small to medium-size businesses seeking cohesive centralized management system solutions. Its omnichannel strategy is the seamless integration of  “Ecom” and their existing POS cloud-based solution, “Lightspeed Retail,” which together streamline online and in-store channels for retailers.

In a report by Retail Systems Research, more than 60 percent of retailers say that gleaning inventory insights, real-time customer visibility and product information across all channels is crucial. The same report also revealed that more than 40 percent of retailers have difficulty coordinating their in-store and e-commerce operations.

JP Chauvet, the president of Lightspeed, said, “Retailers want the freedom to sell across all channels, whether in-store, online or mobile. No matter the platform, it’s all part of one continuous experience with a brand.” He added, “We’re giving retailers a way to easily manage their online and in-store business, offer customers a seamless shopping experience and sell smarter.”

Fashion and jewelry retailers comprise the majority of Lightspeed’s client base, though its biggest customer and target are independent retailers. In fact, one out of every 20 independent retailers in Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Francisco, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; and Austin, Tex., use Lightspeed retail solutions. Of Lightspeed’s 40,000 customers in over 100 countries, they have seen a 20 percent increase in sales after one year of using Lightspeed solutions and boast a 98 percent customer satisfaction rating.

“Lightspeed Retail” simplifies business management, sales, order management processes and customer engagement. From within Lightspeed Retail, the Ecom omnichannel integration allows bricks-and-mortar retailers to quickly launch online stores by automatically syncing customer sales data, sales and inventory. Businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies achieve 91 percent greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to businesses that don’t, according to a report by Aspect Software.

Lightspeed founder and chief executive officer Dax Dasilva described the company’s evolution as “four separate companies with four transformations.” When the company launched in 2005, retailers merely wanted to feel in control of their stores. Brands were operating archaically by today’s standards, and centralized management solutions for customer data, analytics or tracking purchases were not readily available.

Without streamlined data collection, retailers couldn’t tailor conversations or make personalized suggestions to consumers, so Lightspeed’s “first company” provided those services via an interface similar to iTunes.

Years later, as analysts and business reporters were predicting the death of brick-and-mortar stores, Apple counterintuitively began building more stores and was the one of the first to engage in-store shoppers on mobile devices. Small business owners took note, and wanted the same technology for their customers. Apple came to Lightspeed for advice, which was a turning point for the brand, and they again redefined their purpose and products by creating retail solutions for mobile devices.

After the cloud was introduced to retail software systems, Lightspeed once again evolved its strategy by creating cloud-based solutions. Now, their omnichannel platform is the fourth chapter in Lightspeed’s brand evolution.

Dasilva told WWD, “Online behavior is driving physical world action. If you’re not discoverable online, you may be invisible to the shopper.” He added, “It’s the only viable business model for e-commerce – the in-store experiences that many of the best online retailers are rolling out can immerse the customer in the brand experience. This is a business model that is going to work for modern retail. Doing one, or the other, is not enough.”

Mobile is a particularly important aspect of omnichannel, as 71 percent of shoppers who use smartphones for research in-store say that it’s become an important part of the experience, according to a report by Google. Due to rising consumer expectations, by 2020, the demand for an omnichannel customer experience will be amplified by the need for nearly perfect execution, said in a separate report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“For shoppers online and offline, their brand experience doesn’t stop when the store closes. It [omnichannel] makes brands discoverable online and drives foot traffic. For the first time we’re seeing foot traffic driven by mobile searches,” Dasilva added.

Though Lightspeed turns its attention toward mostly small to medium-sized businesses, it also works with larger brands seeking consulting for strategic transition to digital. “We’re seeing some of the bigger traditional players really struggle to become omnichannel,” Dasilva told WWD. Notable Lightspeed clients include Malin + Goetz, Vera Wang, Diane von Furstenberg pop-ups, Thom Browne and Draper James, Reese Witherspoon’s new luxury clothing brand.

Headquartered in Montreal, Lightspeed is one of the city’s fastest growing tech start-ups. Lightspeed’s 30,000 square-foot building is a 120 year-old former hotel and railway station that Dasilva converted into an office space. It was awarded the “most beautiful tech office of the year” in 2015, featuring ultramodern furniture juxtaposed with brick walls, exposed pipe ceilings, vaulted wood beam ceilings covered with white Christmas lights and wood fireplaces throughout.

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