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How to go from Mobile and Online to Multichannel

By Paul Skeldon September 19, 2017 - 1:39 pm

The evolution in technology has created a multitude of touch points between retailers and their customers. Customers are coming to expect the same quality of experience and service across all of these points.Welcome to the omnichannel.

Omnichannel retail is here to stay and those retailers who fail to keep up will be left behind, so the principles of omnichannel retail need to be incorporated into your sales strategy.

In this article we will:

  1. Explain what is omnichannel retail?
  2. Find out what the experts say
  3. Explain the benefits
  4. Answer how can retailers embrace omnichannel retail?

What is omnichannel retail?

Omnichannel retail refers to the strategy of creating a seamless shopping experience for customers across a range of different channels. You store could be one, your website another etc. You might be familiar with the term multichannel retail and wonder what the difference between the two is.

omnichannel is the evolution of multichannel. Multichannel refers to retailers using several different channels to reach their customers such as mobile and an ecommerce store but treating these channels as quite separate. Omnichannel involves joining these channels  – giving the shopper the same brand experience across them all.

The omni approach is very much driven by the consumer. They will shop and browse in the way that is convenient to them and they get complete consistency from the retailer. According to IDC Retail Insights, omnichannel shopping “requires providing an immersive and superior customer experience regardless of channel”.

What do the experts say?

“What really matters is who your customers are and how they buy,” says Mike Ni, Chief Marketing Officer and SVP Products at Avangate.

“Today, an average consumer engages with content 10 times before making a buying decision – they search online, read social or peer reviews and check comparison price engines. They are in fact becoming ‘prosumers’.

“This change in buying behaviour implies that you need to extend your customer-facing systems to not only engage with these empowered buyers, but to enable them to transact as well – across touch points, across channels, in context – on the customers’ terms.

“It is important to focus on those touch points which matters most to your business, and respond with speed and agility to inbound demand.”

What are the benefits for the retailer?

omnichannel retail helps brands to see each channel as valuable. Fall in sales in one channel might mean a rise in sales in other channels. Having a holistic approach will allow you to see a sale as a sale – not matter the source. With the retail landscape changing rapidly, this kind of attitude will help you to survive.

Customers of omnichannel retailers are getting the best possible service from whichever channel they are using which avoids frustration and aids satisfaction. According to IDC omnichannel shoppers spend an average of 15 – 30% more with retailers than one that uses only one channel. It makes sense, more channels mean more sales opportunities.

How can retailers embrace omnichannel retail?

Make sure your are optimised for mobile shopping. The rise of shopping on smartphones and tablets has made optimisation for these devices a necessity. Whether you are aware of it or not, the chances are your customers are accessing your website via their mobile devices – if they don’t get an optimised experience you run the risk of losing these sales opportunities.

Having a responsive ecommerce site is a good way to ensure you are creating an omnichannel experience. It means there is little disparity between the experience a customer gets on your website and the experience they get on their mobiles.

Responsive web design can be obtained using a developer and it might also be an option if you are using an ecommerce shop platform – for example Shopify and Magento have responsive options.

Reach out using social media

If you are utilising social media platforms you need to make sure that your customers are getting the same branding messages, the same offers and the same service as they get in your online store. That means responding to messages and engaging with shoppers as well as presenting them with your products.

By creating and engaging in communities on social media you are able to reach new customers and gain valuable recommendations from other users.

Social media is increasingly becoming a sales channel in itself with new technology enabling shoppers to purchase on the platforms rather than simply going to your site. This is a relatively new concept and even if you don’t feel ready to take the step into offering sales through Twitter or Pinterest, it is good to know what is happening in the market.

Offer innovative delivery methods

Customers want their experience to be similar in each channel. By offering a range of delivery options you are removing the age old issue of failed online deliveries. If someone can’t be at home to collect a parcel, as is often the case, give them a choice of collecting their package elsewhere. Companies such as Collect+ and InPost are trailblazing in this department.

Integrate technology in-store

If you have a physical store presence as well as an online store, integrating technology into it is an important element of omnichannel retailing. Many stores now offer tablets in-store for customers to browse online while they are in the store. Retailers are also developing smartphone apps which know when a customer is in-store and can serve them with relevant offers and information.

“So whether your customers shop via a widget on Facebook, or ask for details via live chat, you should be able to provide consistent information, service and transact with them in real time,” says Ni.

“After all, you don’t want to miss any revenue opportunity and above all, you want to keep your customers happy!”

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