It’s impossible to miss the fundamental changes in retail purchasing behavior. Whether driven by convenience, cost savings, or selection; an increasing number of consumers are shopping online. In today’s article, we’re going to discuss how to use an omnichannel strategy to drive sales through online channels and in physical stores.
Omnichannel Strategies Change Everything
According to a recent eMarketer study, US retail ecommerce sales will total nearly $500 billion in 2018. This represents 11.6% of the total retail sales and it’s not a new phenomenon. Online sales have grown at a rate of at least that much since 2013, and the trend shows no sign of abating.
Does this mean that physical stores will soon be a thing of the past? Definitely not, and physical retail locations still remain the favored shopping channel. Still, we can’t deny that this continuing trend requires retailers to adapt. A true omnichannel experience – one that integrates a retailer’s online, in-store, mobile, and social presences – is necessary to thrive. Here’s how to stay competitive.
Stay on Top of Trends
Insights that are relevant today can be out-of-date quickly. Meanwhile, personalization technologies are becoming increasingly sophisticated. On the customer side of the equation, the Millennial generation continues to gain influence. As the line between brands and retail stores blurs, savvy retailers must make an ongoing commitment to stay abreast of the current trends in omnichannel retailing.
Manage Your Inventory Differently
Over the past few years, retail leaders such as Macy’s, H&M, and IKEA have made significant investments in inventory control systems. These systems make it possible to track the location of each item in real-time, whether it’s in a store, a warehouse, or distribution center. Some retailers accomplish this by integrating RFID tags. Others use mobile, tablet-based point-of-service systems. With the kind of information offered by these technologies, it’s possible to offer your customers options like being able to order online, yet pick up the item at their local store.
Increase Customer Satisfaction
Recognize that all facets of the shopping experience — both in the real world and its virtual counterpart — are essential to satisfy customers and build strong, long-lasting relationships. Regardless of whether a purchase is made in a physical store or online, both channels should be viewed as a single entity when attempting to boost customer satisfaction.
A true omnichannel experience – one that integrates a retailer’s online, in-store, mobile and social presences – is essential to nurturing a deep customer connection. Consumers want engagement across the physical and digital elements.
Voice-of-the-Customer (VoC) programs, reporting solutions, email surveys and website feedback tools are just some of the new technologies available to manage the omnichannel experience. They not only provide raw data on the shopping experience, they can generate fresh insights regarding the customer’s perception of your brand.
Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and other social media platforms are evidence that consumers want to share their stories with the world at large. Forward-thinking retailers should listen carefully to what their customers have to say. Social media offers an opportunity to probe deep into how your customers feel about your product before, during, and even after the purchase.
Consumers may be fickle in terms of their shopping habits, but that’s no excuse for retailers to present a vague message, or one that is indistinguishable from what the competition is saying. Being consistent engenders the consumer’s trust. Each stage of the customer’s journey should be a seamless experience. Create a messaging guideline, so that your brand’s value proposition is expressed clearly, regardless of the channels your customer choses to reach you.
Keep It Simple
Technology plays a fundamental role in implementing a successful omnichannel strategy. If you are in the process of evaluating an inventory control or ecommerce system, remember to make sure that your new platform integrates with your legacy systems.
All customer data, whether it originates through a social media channel, an ecommerce site, a physical store, or a mobile device is critical for your retail operation. This includes information such as purchase history, individual preferences, and browsing habits. Collect the data from various origins and unify them into a single source. Your customer service representatives will find it easier to deliver a positive shopping experience. Ultimately, this translates into higher sales, allowing you to operate profitably in the midst of this omnichannel world.
Talk to an Expert
These are just a few of our suggestions for implementing an omnichannel retail strategy. Following through on these suggestions will help ensure your business remains relevant. Contact Cox Target Media to examine some other ways to implement an omnichannel offer-activation retail strategy.