Retail has been undoubtedly one of the most impacted industries due to the COVID pandemic. Most retailers acted swiftly when they were forced to improve their e-commerce capabilities due to lockdowns.
Since the pandemic, over one-third of Americans have embraced omnichannel features as a regular part of their shopping routine. Brands that provide a smooth, tailored, consistent, and holistic experience across different platforms see higher returns.
However, implementing a value-adding omnichannel e-commerce strategy can be challenging. The post below will delve into why omnichannel retailing is essential, as well as tips for preparing your retail business to nurture a practical omnichannel experience.
Why pursue an omnichannel retail strategy?
Over the last decade, the rise of new technology has revolutionized retail. According to the Harvard Business Review, 73% of shoppers use numerous channels during their purchase journey. Furthermore, digital isn’t going away: customers’ lives are increasingly dominated by smart devices.
That being said, now is the time for improving the shopping experience in and out of stores.
An effective omnichannel retail strategy assists businesses in offering a consistent experience for the customer at every stage of the purchasing process. This comprehensive approach focuses on providing customers with a positive experience in-store, online, and any other place where they connect with your business.
Nike opened a Cavernous Paris store in 2020, featuring digital experiences embedded across several platforms. The result? Its online sales increased by 37%.
Here are three key reasons why you should prepare your retail business for the omnichannel revolution:
- Shoppers prefer multichannel experiences that are “always on”
- One of the most powerful influencers in today’s retail industry is social media (both online & physical stores). For retail success, a well-planned omnichannel strategy smoothly integrates social media and commerce
- There is a significant link between physical and internet stores. For example, Macy’s recently stated at a conference that their online sales from that location also suffer when they shut a physical shop. This can be ascribed in part to customers’ purchasing habits
- Today’s customers expect seamless transitions across online and physical stores. For example, a buyer may purchase products online but return them in a physical store, or vice versa. As a result, retailers may lose valuable customer segments when they do not implement an omnichannel strategy
Tips for preparing your retail business for the omnichannel revolution
Even if your business already has an omnichannel strategy, you should review it. Regularly assessing your strategy lets you stay up-to-date on your customers’ behaviours, specific needs, wants, and expectations.
Here are five simple ways to improve your omnichannel retail strategy:
1. Mapping customer buying behaviour
Customer behaviour and customer journeys are more complex in the multichannel arena. Purchases can be made at any time, depending on numerous circumstances, immediately at physical stores or at online businesses. This necessitates the development of solid omnichannel initiatives that consider the various customer routes and influences across all media.
Understanding the customer’s decision-making process is critical for building an omnichannel strategy. The following are a few vital considerations for mapping customer buying behaviour in the omnichannel retail space:
- Where do the purchases take place?
- While shopping, commuting, or at home, for example
- When do the purchases take place?
- In the morning, at noon, at night, and so on
- What types of things are purchased/popular?
- home decor/wear/groceries, women’s, etc.?
- How frequently do you make purchases?
- Everyday/weekly/quarterly, etc.
- How do purchases take place?
- Smartphone/tablet/cash payment at store, etc.
Gathering insights on such critical topics can assist retail businesses in accurately mapping out customer journeys. That way they can completely understand their customers’ preferences and demands and give the most appropriate experience at the right moment.
To provide such experiences, physical retailers can use up-to-date tech to offer personal, contextual, and excitable experiences to customers on their cell phones while in the store. It will also help collect ssential customeressential customerdata.
2. Diversifying your sales channels
Buyers use about six touch points on average when making a purchase nowadays. As customers move between your social media networks and physical store, you must diversify the sales channels to create an integrated shopping experience.
This is an example of taking advantage of a social commerce for retail strategy.
Take the time to assess which customer channels you are currently using; this will assist you in selecting your future moves. For example, if you own a laptop store, you might want to explore allowing customers to buy online. You should also investigate any new and emerging channels your customers will likely use.
3. Boosting omnichannel customer engagement
Retailers should create extensive customer route maps after studying customer behaviour (via the value-added questions) to set up suitable triggers across numerous channels. Such triggers should attempt to increase customer engagement and drive conversions. Here are a few examples of customer triggers that can be used:
Organize events and sales:
Events or sales have high customer memory and can be utilized to remind people to buy. This also serves as a shopping objective.
Send proximity notifications:
Retailers can send highly customized messages to customers based on their location in the store. Such a notice can be very relevant and result in better conversions.
Send offers/discount reminders:
Notifications about a particular discount or the number of acquired loyalty points might be an excellent motivator for purchasing.
To increase brand value, retailers and brands can actively engage in discussions on social media platforms.
Effectively using triggers can help brands drive customer engagement and build sustainable brand value.
Brands and retailers should use leading technologies such as VR (virtual reality) and chatbots to fill the gap between the online and physical worlds. Also, it helps create seamless and cohesive customer experiences, analyze customer behaviour, and set up relevant triggers.
4. Integrating your offline and online channels
It’s crucial to maintain a single source of truth. And inventory, pricing, sales, and replenishment data are part of omnichannel orchestration.
Personalize the buying experience by integrating apps and touchpoints to a great degree. For example, a customer who conducts an in-store purchase should no longer receive adverts for that item online.
This is the most advanced level of integration. It creates an integrated customer experience across the purchasing journey and company channels by combining marketing, customer service, supply chain, and branding.
A unified omnichannel retail system can notify nearby customers of a new store in their neighbourhood. It can give customers offers depending on their online and in-store purchases. And it can deliver a product promptly regardless of where it was ordered.
5. Investing in your loyalty programs
You’ll need to consider growing your business with loyalty programs to reward customers across multiple channels. With existing customers accounting for 65% of business revenue, retaining current customers is frequently far less expensive than acquiring new ones. Furthermore, acquiring new customers is 5 times more costly than keeping existing ones.
By establishing a more customer-centric shopping experience, a good loyalty program can help to improve your current omnichannel strategy. For example, you could create a loyalty program that gives customers points for every £1 they spend in-store, online, or through the app. You can award customers with discount vouchers or special access to limited-run products whenever they acquire a particular amount of points.
Target Circle, a free reward program that is additionally upgraded with omnichannel features, is an excellent practical example. Customers who shop online or in-store using the Target app, a cell number, a Target.com account, a RedCard, or receipt scans, can receive rewards and discounts.
According to Bond Brand Loyalty, 95% of loyalty program participants desired to interact with their brand’s program via new and upcoming technologies such as chatbots. Members who have used loyalty technology report that it has significantly improved the member experience.
Note that long-term success also means viewing your employees as customers. For example, build a retail employee scheduling strategy and help your retail business retain employees.
Retail businesses must nurture an optimal focus on shoppers’ multichannel preferences, social media, and a strong correlation between physical and online stores. They can benefit from choosing their channels wisely and understanding their synergistic effects.
The line between the digital and physical world is increasingly blurred. And technology lies at the heart of the omnichannel revolution. So, if there is one constant: Omnichannel retail is here to stay!
A well-planned strategy will be guided by purchase behaviour mapping, sales channel diversification, enhanced customer engagement, unification of online and offline stores, and investment in loyalty programs. It can effectively prepare your retail business for the omnichannel revolution.