How to make Omnichannel Retail Work?
In today’s market, the customer is a king spoilt for choice in almost all product and service domains, and this king wants what he wants, wherever, and whenever he wants it.
As the distinction between different channels of engagement keeps reducing, more and more businesses are becoming aware of the need to adopt an omnichannel strategy to address the expectations of their customers.
The benefits of doing so are apparent from the available statistics: a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that as many as 73% of the surveyed customers used multiple channels for shopping.
Similarly, a study by Business Insider concluded that customers who engage with a business through multiple channels tend to shop more than other customers.
In this scenario, it makes a lot of sense for marketers and business owners to understand the nuances of omnichannel marketing.
What is the omnichannel strategy?
Essentially, an omnichannel marketing strategy ensures that your customers receive a consistent and cohesive experience at all touchpoints while interacting with your brand, irrespective of the channel on which this interaction occurs.
To understand this in the context of a retail store imagine a customer browsing different dresses available at a boutique on the boutique’s app, making a purchase, and then picking up the dress from the store at a time of her convenience.
The loyalty credits from this purchase automatically get updated in the customer’s app and also the recommendations she receives from the boutique in the future will factor in her shopping behavior during this and previous purchases.
It would not be wrong to say, perhaps, that the extent to which retail businesses can use omnichannel marketing for improving customer experience is limited only by their vision.
However, before starting a discussion about how retail stores can implement an omnichannel strategy, it is important to distinguish it from a multi-channel strategy.
A multi-channel strategy merely means that a business is making marketing efforts on multiple channels; it makes no promises about these efforts being in-sync with each other.
On the other hand, the entire appeal of an omnichannel marketing strategy rests on being able to provide customers a seamless experience across different channels.
So now that we are clear about what an omnichannel strategy actually entails, let’s go through a few ways to successfully implement an omnichannel strategy.
Understand your customers
Defining data and analytics-based detailed personas for your customers can help you a lot while adopting an omnichannel approach to marketing.
It gives you the insight necessary to hone customer-experience across all channels, thus improving conversion rates and customer loyalty.
To develop customer personas you can use the data from the customer journeys of specific individuals and then apply the right amount of generalization to broaden them.
You must put effort into recognizing the pain points of these personas and work towards addressing them.
Netflix is an ideal example of a brand that truly values the importance of understanding its customers and providing them a smooth experience across channels.
Its algorithms use a plethora of user data to understand what they might be interested in watching.
And it serves up recommendations based on this insight seamlessly, regardless of the device a customer may choose for logging into his Netflix account.
Target the right channels, not all channels
The purpose of using omnichannel marketing is to improve the quality of interaction between your brand and customers, not to diffuse your time and resources over channels that cannot make a real contribution to fulfilling your KPIs.
Recognizing the channels where you should focus depends on the nature of your business and, again, upon the insights you gain from focussing your customers’ journey.
Tools like Google Analytics Acquisition reports offer a simple way to see which places (channels and touchpoints) are driving people to your site, helping you know where it will be most beneficial to focus.
Dealing with more nuanced analytical details and data about customer behavior may look like a challenging task, but organizations like Epsilon with specialized experience in this field can help you out.
Here’s how Epsilon helped Dunkin Donuts deliver an omnichannel loyalty platform that allows Dunkin’ Donuts to regularly surprise and delight customers with membership perks.
A great example of focussing on the right channel is Starbucks. By realizing that they could gain a lot by targeting young customers with a high preference for mobile and internet use, Starbucks was able to focus on its mobile app experience.
Using this app customers can now purchase for pick up to avoid long queues, moreover, they can manage their loyalty rewards, and connect with friends.
So, by adopting an omnichannel retail strategy tailored according to their target audience Starbucks has been able to improve its brand experience, build loyalty, and deliver a personalized experience.
Prioritize customer support over gimmicks
According to a survey by Aspect and Conversion Research, more than half of US internet users have stopped doing business with a general retail company due to poor customer service.
Paying due attention to customers is a necessity for retailers opting for omnichannel marketing. As they try to make their brand’s engagement seamless across channels it becomes even more important to make sure that customer feedback doesn’t go unheard on any of these channels.
No matter how flashy a marketing campaign, it will never have the required impact if the customers feel ignored and dissatisfied at the end of their shopping experience. Rather, it may end up damaging the brand image and contribute to a higher bounce rate.
Win the race by doing things fast and doing them right
As more and more of your competitors get into the game of omnichannel marketing, it becomes the market’s demand for you to keep up too.
However, it is important to understand the right way of doing things and a strategy’s viability for your particular business before you begin investing time and resources in it.
Paying attention to the above discussed points and adopting a healthy mix of technical know-how with a customer-centric approach can help you implement omnichannel marketing successfully for your retail business.
So, get started now, be proactive, and be prudent.