Out of 7.8 billion people in the world, approximately every fourth person is an online shopper<digit>1<digit>. Of these, 75% of them shop online at least once a month<digit>2<digit>. That’s the power of brands going online and offering ecommerce as an option to their consumers.
In 2021, just having a brick and mortar store is not enough, it’s a mandate to be online. Customers expect it.
For retailers, when you’re present in two unique universes, you need two different strategies to run each of them individually, and you need to ensure that the experience is simple and consistent for the consumer. There is more that meets the eye.
Retail business is no longer about making profits, it’s more about customer satisfaction on every interaction and loyalty as an overall goal. For example, 2020 made retailers creative since the spread of COVID-19 was a life-threat, curbside pickup was introduced as an add-on where retailers had large stores and stocks. As of August 2020, in the US 43.7% of the 245 retailers ranked in Digital Commerce 360 Top 500 offered curbside pickup. In 2019, that was a mere 6.9%<digit>3<digit>!
To merge online and offline, brands must implement omnichannel retail—a solution that brings both universes together, and unifies the customer journey and data—so that no matter where the customer accesses your brand from, their expectations are met.
Building an omnichannel retail strategy
An omnichannel retail strategy begins with these pivotal steps:
Step1: Discover your customer’s preferred channels
By looking at past purchase data, and sales analytics, you can track the consumer’s footsteps online and in physical stores. This data will reveal the channels that intrigue and motivates them to stay & buy<digit>4<digit>.
Step 2: Check channel usage
Use an advanced analytic engine to check the entire path of the customer journey while making a purchase. Segment the discovered channels according to highest & lowest usage. Results may vary from customer to customer as some prefer shopping more on physical channels & vice versa.
Step 3: Use tools for seamless integration
You can only succeed with an omnichannel retail strategy if you have the relevant technology to enable seamless channel integration.
Here are some important ones<digit>5<digit>:
Chatbots are quickly becoming a must-have tool for retail businesses, as they enable users to get quick answers to their queries and the solutions to their problems without leaving the website or waiting for an email or phone response. They also help shoppers find products and make decisions, thereby boosting sites to get higher conversion rates.
Augmented Reality (AR) Tools:
The brands leverage this technology to deliver impressive visual experiences before the customer purchases the product. For example, GlamAR transforms the customer's phone camera into a hyper-personalized shopping zone where you check products in real-time to suit the customers' skin tone and facial features.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Tools:
Customers come across several fashion inspirations and online references every day. However, they don’t have any idea where to get them. Starbucks have their AI-powered My Starbucks Barista app to allow mobile users to place their order to a virtual barista within the app. The virtual barista pings the order to a nearby store to ensure the consumer can avoid huge queues & get their orders easily.
Step 4: Build a cohesive customer profile
After the channels are seamlessly integrated using different tools, it's time to observe customer behavior, capture a 360-degree view of customer interaction with all the touchpoints, and utilize the refined data for building a customer’s profile.
There will be an insane amount of data for surveillance of customers on omnichannel touchpoints. You can use these tips to build accurate customer profiles<digit>6<digit>:
Collect & use the correct data: While you should collect everything, you should constantly test and refine which information and touchpoints are more valuable and should have a more significant weight in your personalization initiatives. You can use the data to ascertain customer preferences, attitudes, values, pain areas, and interactions.
Follow customers to their destinations: Omnichannel customer data enables you to track the customer's location and provide appropriate content for that time and place. You can utilize this data to anticipate and plan for future interactions.
Treat customer profiles as living documents: Customer preferences change with time. So would their customer profiles. You can test different campaigns and upsell clients based on their preferences by treating profiles as living documents. AI-based suggestions can be used to identify new traits and opportunities for end customers.
Maximize ROI by analyzing specific customer experiences (CX): Increase return on investment (ROI) by determining which specific CXs result in the highest valued encounters with each customer. After identifying these high-yielding interactions, automate them and produce customized content.
Step 5: Map customer purchase behavior
There are a few essential factors to consider when mapping customer purchasing behavior<digit>7<digit> in the omnichannel retail environment.
- Where do the purchases take place? While shopping, commuting, or at home?
- When are the purchases made? In the morning, afternoon, or at night?
- How frequently do you make purchases? Daily, weekly or quarterly?
- Which products are the most popular? Clothing, kid’s toys, furniture, shoes, etc.?
- Which payment methods are used by the customers? Cash, credit card, debit cards, UPI?
Step 6: Boost customer engagement
After understanding customer purchase behavior, the next stage is setting up relevant triggers across channels, maximizing customer engagement, and driving purchases.
A few noteworthy examples of triggers are:
- Retailers and brands can use social media channels to initiate conversation and engage in dialogue with customers to boost their brand value.
- Send reminders about a particular discount or accumulated loyalty points of the customer.
- Send proximity notifications based on customer’s location
- Organize events and deals that are highly recalled by customers and serve as a reminder to make purchases.
While it is vital to have an omnichannel strategy, it is also important to ensure that it’s been implemented holistically and cohesively. With so much data in the data universe, it is important to understand what data is being collected, how, and what it can be used to interpret.
Once you implement an omni channel strategy, keeping it updated and well-oiled is an on-ground task—ensuring that the customer profile keeps building in the right direction with tools such as ML/AI.
Omnichannel allows you to expand your business to reach customers wherever they are. If you are thinking about implementing an omnichannel retail strategy for your brand, we would be more than happy to guide you on the steps to take. Contact us here.