Supporting the Omni-Channel Shopper
Supporting the Omni-Channel Shopper
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Supporting the Omni-Channel Shopper

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Stacked devices for shopping, mobile, tablet, laptop

The continuing adoption of a wide range of technology by consumers has brought omni-channel retailing to the forefront of the collective consciousness. With more options available to them, consumers have higher expectations for their shopping experience, and it seems like retailers are struggling to keep up.

Changing customer journeys

In-store, online, m-commerce, apps, social commerce – the number of options open to consumers looking to spend some money are increasing all the time, and people aren’t just using one at a time. Instead of following a single-channel path to purchase, savvy consumers are using multiple channels simultaneously to create the journey that works best for them.

Mobile shopping has soared, with the number of transactions made on a smartphone rising 96% in January 2016, according to IMRG. Ofcom finds that those with 4G connectivity are driving most of this change, and by 2017, 98% of houses should have access to 4G services.

That being said, whilst more retailer websites are visited by mobiles than any other channel, basket abandonment rates are far higher on smartphones than on a desktop, with as many as 90% of mobile baskets never making it through checkout (BBC, 2015).

Just because the purchase isn’t made on a mobile, though, doesn’t mean mobile hasn’t played a part. The majority of shoppers now use their phones when they’re in a store, to look up product information, to compare prices, to check reviews or look for special offers (Marketing Land, 2015). Sometimes, shoppers will undertake “webrooming”, where their purchase is researched online and completed in store. Alternately, they may research in store and purchase online – in short, customer journeys are varied, multichannel, and increasingly complex.

Lagging behind

Marketing Week last week reported that UK retailers are falling behind their US counterparts when it comes to omni-channel capabilities. The study referenced in the article looked at four main criteria:

  • the extent to which customers are put at the heart of the experience;
  • the ability for customers to access consistent pricing, promotions and customer service across channels;
  • the breadth of the retailers’ delivery and return options;
  • and the retailers’ ability to create and utilise a unified view of its customers using data and technology.

Looking at major department store chains in each country, the study found that the US stores scored better than their UK counterparts in every criterion – with a particular stark gap where data and technology were concerned. This is likely the cause of Bruce Griffin, CEO of researcher Rockpool, stating that “For all of the UK brands, personalisation was either not present at all or very, very poor.”

Continuing failure to keep up with developments in the industry doesn’t tend to end well – look at HMV, Blockbuster, Woolworths, BHS. So how can UK retailers up their game and start to give their customers the experience they crave?

The components of omni-channel retail

Know your customer

You can’t provide a truly effective omni-channel customer experience without really knowing your customers. This goes further than just gathering some basic demographic information – the most effective strategies are based on deep insights and behavioural data collected across all channels.

It’s not that difficult to implement – a single line of code placed on each channel will allow a Customer Experience Management platform like Intilery to start gathering data immediately. Powerful technology can track customer behaviour across each channel that an individual customer uses, and records and sorts the data to provide a single customer view.

The data you get from this process can give you a huge range of actionable insights. What channels and devices do your customers use? Where are they dropping out of the process? What time are they purchasing? Which channel are they purchasing from? What was their path to purchase? Only once you understand the experience you’re providing your customers, can you start to improve it.

Keeping it connected

Tracking your customers across the different channels is just the start of a connected experience. Each of your channels needs to present a consistent brand to your customers, and ensure that the presented content supports each interaction and doesn’t contradict. Of course, every channel has its own strengths and benefits, so optimise your content to take advantage of them.

Remember that whilst you have multiple channels, you’re still just one business – too many teams are split into silos, operating independently of each other. If your web team isn’t talking to your in-store marketing team, you’ll never achieve a truly seamless customer experience.

Make it convenient

The key to successful customer experience is convenience. The easier you make it for the customer to get what they want, the happier they’ll be – and the more likely they are to come back.

For example, one of the earliest examples of joined-up channels are the “click & collect” services offered by many retailers. The online shopping experience, combined with human interactions and without the need to wait inside for a delivery – for some customers, it’s the best of both worlds.

With customer data being tracked across every channel, retailers can use Customer Experience Management (CEM) platforms like Intilery to offer up real-time personalisation, wherever the customer is. From in-store push notifications triggered by beacons, to personalised recommendations or baskets carried across from mobile to desktop – the options to tailor the experience you’re providing to each individual customer ensure that you’re providing the best possible experience each time.

With Intilery, providing an omni-channel experience to each and every customer is easily within your reach. Whatever your obstacles, we can work with you to overcome them – and buck the trend of the UK retailers who aren’t quite hitting the mark.

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