With omnichannel – a synced and seamless experience no matter where or how the customer decides to interact, being deemed as the panacea for retailer’s long-term survival – many brands are still yet to master the cohesiveness that this approach dictates in achieving a customer and brand experience that stays unified, integrated, consistent and truly omnipresent.
So, considering that 73% of customers prefer to buy across multiple channels, and those that use 4+ channels tend to spend 9% more in store and be more loyal, employing a robust omnichannel approach is pretty essential for retailers to transition successfully into the next decade.
Companies with omnichannel retail strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers from channel to channel. (Aberdeen Group Inc)
This said, brands are continually struggling to really achieve their true omnichannel potential, often due to lack of internal co-ordination, siloed ways of working and poor use of customer data – as opposed to lack of capital or knowhow.
Compounding the issue further, many agencies – all too happy to offer their services in helping to join all the dots – often overcomplicate their approach, when in our experience the solution is much simpler. By focusing on the integration of four key components within your omnichannel process, you can quickly add value to your customers overall experience. However first and above all, let’s not undervalue the role of the customer, or as we like to say the human.
1. A human-centred approach
Of course, understanding your customers is the bedrock of any approach, but many brands don’t go much further than knowing who their customers are and what devices and platforms they use, via multi-channel funnels and attribution reports. To build truly connected retail experiences – not just knowing how to reach but what experience to engage with – brands need to go beyond the traditional demographic to create a psychographic of your customer; a deep understanding of how they behave and more importantly what they think and feel. Then through segmentation and understanding specific journeys, use emotional mapping tools and data to get a rounded customer view and align appropriate content strategies.
2. Dealing with data
Customer data has improved significantly over the years but centralising it (away from siloed business units such as marketing and commerce) still proves a challenge for organisations. Ensuring channel performance data is accessible, easy to extract and interpret to create a master data set – a single source of truth is key. This 360degree view of customers allows the business to deliver more consistent and personalised communications, which in turn drives engagement and loyalty.
3. Building technology platforms
Most brands define their ‘omnichannel’ as using the best of their abilities and technologies to hand. What they invariably wind up with is in fact a multichannel or cross-channel solution that’s labelled as omnichannel, a solution that’s incapable of delivering against the original promise. A true omnichannel solution spans all channels of customer communication and maintains conversations and brand persona across those channels; building in AI and IOT is also further helping brands to leverage existing technologies to understand and predict customer behaviour.
4. Make moments unified and shoppable
Using omnichannel integration, we’ve seen a 3X higher return on investment through seamless offline to online (and vice versa) user experiences. This is good news, but although critical, the solution needs to go deeper than purely linking physical and digital worlds – see ideas to drive the ‘new retail’ revolution. According to an IDC study, shoppers who have the ability to convert on any channel have a 30% higher lifetime value, therefore a successful omnichannel retail strategy is one that doesn’t focus on a specific end destination, but enables customers to convert at any channel. The goal is to unify your marketing and sales structure; making each touchpoint shoppable. Integrating online traffic with offline visits is just the tip of the iceberg.
5. Developing a congruent experience
To ensure a congruent experience that really connects with customers, omnichannel is no longer just about developing interactive relationships with audiences (a pure joining of the dots approach if you like), it is about engagement, passion and loyalty. But marketers must do so within limitless contexts. Ultimately adding value across the entire customer journey and making the whole greater than the sum of its parts: an intimate connection with consumers that is supported by technology, that puts them front and centre of the communication, building a long-lasting relationship.
Consumers are becoming accustomed to hopping between physical and digital and their expectation is that retail is similarly fluid. Adopting human experience design principles goes beyond omnichannel or omnicommerce, to really understand the behaviour of humans today and to create a mutual relationship; the best enables us to plan visits in advance, react and flex in real-time, and curate our own experience every step of the way on our own terms.