If you work with e-commerce retail, you are already aware of the necessity to make your relationship with customers faster and more efficient. Right now, omnichannel retail strategies are the trend. Omnichannel retail takes place through unified commerce platforms.
The goal is to give your business greater availability and offer your clients the best possible customer experience however they choose to search for you: in an old-school physical store or online, via desktop or smartphone. Connecting online and offline payment systems and options allow the customer to initiate a purchase on a website and complete it in a physical store, or vice versa.
A recent report indicated that among entrepreneurs who already combine their physical and digital stores, 47 percent said that unified commerce improves their customer experience, and 46 percent reported that the system helped increase their sales.
Let’s take a look at how this works so you can better understand how crucial omnichannel strategies are for your business.
Omnichannel vs. Multi-Channel Experience
Since the lines between the two are blurred, it’s necessary to understand the little things that differentiate the two approaches.
The multi-channel experience is the one that most businesses offer their consumers so far. That is, a customer can contact you by phone, email, or by going directly to the physical store. But these channels are not all interconnected. On the contrary, there are different strategies for customer service on each channel, and the service the client receives through the phone or e-mail is completely different.
Here’s an example: a potential customer sent an email with questions to your e-commerce and the next day decides to show up at the physical store to deal with it in person, but no one there was aware of that email message.
This is the main difference from the omnichannel experience. As the name implies (Omni is the Latin word for “all”), an omnichannel strategy integrates all of your sales or customer communication channels to deliver a consistent customer experience from start to finish.
Let’s take an example: the potential customer arrived at your store via smartphone, placed a product in the cart, but then decided to complete the purchase on their computer when they got home. The product is still on the cart when accessing the same website on another device but with the same e-mail/ID. The consumer can also pick it up in person at a physical store instead of waiting for delivery since all operations are connected.
How To Implement an Omnichannel Strategy for Your Business
Multichannel and omnichannel strategies have similar goals (offer different channels for consumers to choose from) but different organizational approaches. To implement an omnichannel experience, you will have to make some changes to the internal structures of your business. Here are some tips to make the process easier:
Find Out Your Customers’ Preferred Channels
In 2016, a study on consumers’ channel preferences revealed that 60 percent of people prefer to speak with a company by email than by phone (this option was chosen by only 21.4 percent). Today, the difference must be even greater. Research and map the channels your customers engage with the most.
It’s no use keeping an open channel of communication on TikTok, for example, if your potential customers prefer to talk to you on Facebook. The best way to discover the ideal channels is to collect feedback from customers themselves through surveys or social media polls.
Tailor Marketing Efforts Based on Customers’ Preferences
If every channel you offer is speaking a different language, you will create more confusion than a unified experience. All platforms must communicate the same things and follow a pattern, but you’ll also have to customize messaging, images, and interactive content based on every channel. For example, your business blog may have long articles, but this approach is unlikely to work on social networks, which ask for quick messages. And what appeals to your customers on Instagram may not have the same impact on Facebook.
Distributing Inventory to Multiple Fulfillment Centers
After the consumer completes his purchase, he expects to receive your product as soon as possible. Unfortunately, not all businesses have the structure to quickly serve all links in this chain: from product collection and packaging to shipping and delivery.
You can streamline the entire process by partnering with third-party logistics companies, whose multiple warehouses enable fast and efficient order delivery. These partners will take care of the e-commerce order management and fulfillment process and will save you a lot of time and money.
Diversify Customer Support Channels
Although the Internet has revolutionized the world, it is still necessary to set up multiple customer support channels through a combination of chat, email, text, or phone. After all, potential customers might prefer a good conversation on the phone, or in person to be able to choose a certain product and close the deal. But it’s no use being present on every existing channel: find out what tools your current customers are using and focus on them.
Don’t Make Customers Run After You
The retail industry is rapidly changing to keep up with consumer desires. A survey on shopping behavior made a couple of years ago found that only 7 percent of consumers only shopped online, and 20 percent were physical store-only consumers. In other words, an overwhelming majority is still made up of omnichannel customers, who travel through multiple channels to complete the purchase.
They search for prices on their smartphones and place the items in the cart of your online store, but they can end up in your physical store anytime. So don’t expect customers to chase you: adopt an omnichannel strategy to offer multiple ways for potential customers to find your business and purchase your products and services.