An omnichannel strategy is the a brand’s plan to provide a seamless customer communication experience across the channels their customers engage with the most. Small businesses and startups manage to market solutions using basic channels like email, but as a business and its’ customers grow, the need for an ability to reach customers across different channels and be available to them on these channels for support also increases.
Why is it relevant today?
Global Web Index reports that the average digital consumer owns 3.64 connected devices. This number may only grow, with the rise of technologies like IoT. Experiencing a truly great omnichannel strategy won’t feel like you are being bombarded on multiple channels by a brand. It will be a coordinated, continuous conversation that is fully integrated with context of the customer. It involves coordination between teams like Sales, Marketing, IT, Customer Service, and a whole lot more.
How can your brand benefit from an Omnichannel Strategy?
A survey by BigCommerce revealed that 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer to search and purchase on online retail sites rather than in store. Only 41% of Baby Boomers and 28% of Seniors will click to purchase. With Millennials and Gen Xers on the web being the primary audience for marketers today – mostly because of their huge demographic, brands need to formulate ways to reach their audience in a changing retail scenario.
Why Omnichannel Strategy for Retail?
Building an omnichannel strategy is a big advantage for anyone in retail, both offline and online. The right way to market is to talk to customers on the devices they use the most and using the mediums they like to get messages on.
The world of online and offline retailing is merging today
Today, about 80% of american consumer has made a purchase over the last month online. Plus, 96% of American have bought something off the internet in their lifetime at least once (Source).
A modern consumer views your brand as a single entity, they expect that they are treated the same everywhere, regardless of the device through which they are engaging with the brand. No matter if they shop offline at a store, or they buy a product via the brand’s mobile app, a customer would want to pick up exactly where they left off.
A consumer wants to be able to start their shopping experience on one channel and have it remembered on others channels, when he or she switches between them. Whether, it’s their shopping cart, wish list or just a product research on the website or mobile app.
From commuting back home in a cab to continuing the shopping experience through the comfort of their couch, this is what a modern shopper expects from their favorite brands. And this is what the retailers should focus on, if they want to build a long-term relation with their users. This leads us to our next point.
Seamless Information Transfer and Smart Notifications
Let’s say a customer looks at a product, ticket or deal on a laptop in the morning, and closes it to rush to work. A few hours of being absorbed at work later, the customer sits down for lunch, and receives a mobile push notification to say that prices have dropped or gone up. The notification also provides a name and number of sales/booking representative who will provide dedicated support if the customer has any questions. The customer is pressed for time and keen to convert, and the push notification gives them the confidence to do so.
This is how an omnichannel strategy can use information on one channel and combine it with smart notifications to create a great experience that every customer loves. Brands needs to coordinate this effort and make sure to get the right opt-ins for this – no one wants to get a push notification and updates when they didn’t ask for it. Retail brands like Macy’s and Sephora are already implementing omnichannel strategies, with great success. You keep customers posted, with context – they convert.
Omnichannel retailing promotes customer loyalty
One of the major targets that eCommerce and online retail brands focus on is Customer loyalty. There is no point, if a customer shops with you once and never returns.
A leading example would be a customer loyalty program that evolved completely because of omnichannel marketing and user engagement. In the past decade, Customer loyalty programs was loosely based on providing a customer with a shopping card, exclusive to that brand.
Whenever you made the purchase anything from these brands, a show of this card would lead to addition of shopping points, stars, etc to your account which can later be redeemed for rewards. Starbucks is a leading example of such a program. Another program that has been highly successful is the Prime membership program by Amazon. A prime member at Amazon is promised free one-day delivery without any extra delivery charges, all you have to do is pay a nominal fee for an year. Other benefits apart from the free one-day delivery, are, access to Prime Videos and Prime music membership, and exclusive offers and discount for members.
The crux of these programs is the omnichannel approach, Starbucks and Amazon have integrated it to all the channels via which they interact with their customers. A person with a Starbucks card, can forget it at home and still can use it at store. If he or she forgets the card, they can use the mobile app to retrieve the card’s information, top it up and in real time the cashier at Starbucks will know that the order is of a Starbucks loyalist. The customer, benefits from it by not losing on any rewards stars at Starbucks, that could be exchanged later on for a free gift from Starbucks. On the other hand, the brand benefits itself, by giving the customer another great incentive to shop from them regularly.
Contextual view of Customer Journey
For brands, understanding the behaviors of offline customers as well as behaviors of offline customers that transition to online is essential. Bridging this gap with surveys or by collecting an email address in store can make a big difference to mapping the customer journey. From this, a company like Boomtrain can use artificial intelligence to help you reach the customer based on which channel they are most likely to respond to.
A unified view of the customer journey also tells us which parts of the omnichannel strategy are strongest and weakest, so a brand can look at and fix the corresponding metrics. It also helps brands take more customer centric decisions.
Omnichannel marketing leads to more marketing effectiveness
Any popular and successful brand has a killer marketing strategy, and it’s the same when it comes to online retail and eCommerce. Omnichannel approach has been praised for paving the way for immersive and effective marketing.
Here’s why Omnichannel marketing paves the way for more effective marketing –
- Customers today demand a more personalized shopping experience, making marketing offers based on customers’ shopping behavior pretty important. Omnichannel approach allows us to target our marketing in the very manner.
- Omnichannel marketing also means better measurement of capital investment and ROI. Since omnichannel approach is based on channels controlled by us, a marketer would have higher control on what channels to target and what to expect out of their campaigns.
- Based on omnichannel monitoring of users, you will precisely know how every individual user is interacting with your brand, and therefore you’d be able to provide users with targeted and personalized marketing collateral, hence promoting better chances of conversion. In simple words, omnichannel marketing would boost your conversion rates.
Keeps your brand young, approachable and creative
Whether you are a brick and mortar giant that has been around foreer and also has an online presence, or an online-first startup which had offline retail offerings – using an omnichannel strategy is the best way to show customers that your brand is approachable to the young and the old. To the customers who have been loyal for decades as well as those who just started engaging. Millennial audiences love to be engaged creatively, and an omnichannel strategy lets you personalize your communication to different segments and send every customer the right message.