The digital and physical retail worlds have often been thought of as competing interests. Headlines proclaimed: “Retail is dead!” Amazon seemingly loomed over every brick-and-mortar store, threatening to gobble up market share as shoppers began spending more time online. Mobile entered as a game-changer, as marketers wondered if it would be too invasive to reach out to consumers across this new and personal channel.
Now it has been discovered that these channels aren’t isolated from one another. They are, in fact, all interconnected and all necessary to move shoppers along the path to purchase, boost sales, and sustain loyalty. It’s not enough to develop the best website, the best store, or the best mobile app. Brands and retailers must decide how they can create an omnichannel retail shopping experience that gives the customer full control over when, where, and how they engage.
What Is an Omnichannel Retail Shopping Experience?
The omnichannel experience is the future of retail going forward. A study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that of the 46,000 surveyed shoppers, 73% shop across multiple channels. More specifically, Statista found that 68% of shoppers use smartphones, 47% use laptops, 33% use desktop computers, and 31% use tablets to make online purchases. Brands and retailers looking to create an omnichannel shopping experience must understand the importance of a seamless transition between mobile devices, websites, and physical locations.
What does omnichannel look like in 2020 and beyond?
- A logged-in app user can access the same shopping cart through mobile or web URL.
- An app user can purchase a product via mobile on their lunch break and pick up in-store after work.
- A shopper can select an item in-store but check out with a mobile wallet payment.
- Customers can use mobile loyalty rewards programs to interact with their favorite brands and retailers.
- Out-of-stock items can easily be ordered via a mobile device and shipped to a shopper’s home.
- Shoppers can interact with brands virtually through apps, while products are in-hand.
- In-store “smart mirrors” can link shoppers to sales associates, shopping carts, and branded social media.
- Physical gift cards can be connected to a loyalty app for redemption online or in-store.
- Local inventory mobile search ads can drive people to the store, and allow them to buy in a matter of moments.
Customers who use multiple channels are the most valuable. The Harvard Business Review study also found that omnichannel customers who used more than one shopping channel spent 4% more on every visit to the store and 10% more online; by comparison, omnichannel shoppers who used 4+ channels spent 9% more per trip.
Shoppers using multiple channels also tend to shop more often, which increases the lifetime value of the customer. Nearly half of shoppers who engage with retailers across 10+ channels buy from their favorite retailer’s website at least once a week.
Rapidly, shoppers have grown to expect that retailers will take a holistic approach to create more enjoyable consumer experiences. The brands and retailers that wish to succeed in the era of multichannel shopping will need to adopt technologies and implement strategies to eliminate buyer pain points.
The brands and retailers that wish to succeed in the era of multichannel shopping will need to adopt technologies and implement strategies to eliminate buyer pain points.
How to Create the Most Effective Omnichannel Experience in 2020
BRP Consulting’s 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey, which combined research on customer expectations with survey findings on retailers’ current capabilities, found that only 7% of businesses are currently delivering the unified, seamless, and effective omnichannel experience customers desire. Fortunately, much insight can be gleaned from the customer expectation portion of the survey as to how brands and retailers can improve.
According to customer expectations, brands and retailers can do the following to create an effective omnichannel shopping experience:
- Use mobile to deliver educational content. Sixty-two percent of consumers use mobile while shopping in-store to check reviews or ratings before buying. They might read about certain features or seek information on raw material sourcing. They may look for video content like demos or ads. They could use smartphones to comparison-shop competing brands or check prices across retailers. Developing campaigns for mobile that give shoppers all this information right at their fingertips through beacons, product scanning, or companion apps will be the best approach.
- Personalize across channels. Most surveyed consumers were fine with retailers saving their purchase history and knowing their personal preferences if it would mean a personalized shopping experience. Many businesses use CRM software like Salesforce or Eloqua, as well as personalization tools like Adobe Target, to capture and share data across platforms. Digital shoppers can be tracked via email login from mobile apps and websites. Personalized content can be sent based on past purchases, shopping cart items, and articles browsed on a site. Mobile shopping apps can link online and offline activity tracked through a person’s phone (which usually comes to the store with them).
- Keep customers in-the-loop and satisfied. Three out of four shoppers like to know where their orders are, when they are prepared, and when they’ll arrive. Allow them to opt-in to receive tracking information through email and/or text message. Sixty-eight percent of shoppers say they’re more likely to choose a store offering a customer-friendly automated returns process.
- Explore omnichannel retail shopping partnerships. Shopkick is a mobile shopping app and loyalty rewards program that combines digital and physical shopping. Smartphone-enabled shoppers open the app to see which brands or retailers are offering “kicks”, or rewards points, for some form of engagement. Brands and retailers can drive loyalty by rewarding consumers for watching educational in-app video content, browsing through lookbooks, scanning products in-store, making purchases, and more. The more shoppers engage with partnering brands, the more points they can earn—which can later be redeemed for a gift card of their choosing. A successful omnichannel partnership with Shopkick engages shoppers throughout the entire purchase journey, driving trial and consideration via mobile communication that translates into in-store engagement and ultimately leads to sales.
Most shoppers take their business elsewhere after a poor shopping trip, so it makes sense to create an efficient and satisfying omnichannel experience that fosters an ongoing relationship. These omnichannel shoppers spend more time getting to know you, spend more dollars on your products, and will ultimately display greater loyalty if you stay current with the latest trends, tools, and technologies designed to make sales more fluid across all channels.
Want a more effective omnichannel retail shopping experience? Consider how Shopkick has helped its partners. If you’re ready to meet customer expectations, contact us to learn just how we can help you expand your reach and establish customer loyalty.
Image courtesy of mrmohock