As retailers navigate their ‘new normal,’ omnichannel marketing is critical for customers to experience consistency throughout their purchasing journey, alleviating frustration and guiding them to convert.
As retail recovers from last year’s setbacks and the ongoing public health challenges, customers are coming to terms with the fact that they will have fewer shopping options in the brick-and-mortar world than they did prior to the pandemic. Certain larger retailers with greater financial resources were able to weather the storm, but many mom-and-pop businesses never reopened.
Throughout the lockdown, new shopping behaviors emerged as consumers discovered the ease and convenience of shopping online—for the first time for some. Consumers embraced options such as “click and collect” and contactless shopping, as well as new technology-driven interfaces that attempted to replicate in-store experiences as closely as possible.
Consumers’ expectations of the in-store experience were also altered by these experiences. Indeed, the online experience has become increasingly entwined with the brick-and-mortar environment. Consumers were compelled to engage with brands across multiple channels, and retailers and ecommerce merchants were compelled to create a seamless experience across all platforms, including brick and mortar.
Today’s successful businesses understand the value of omnichannel marketing and sales. They are able to seamlessly transfer customer experiences across the numerous channels their customers use: smartphones, tablets, computers, brick-and-mortar, social media, and phone. If you’re a retail digital marketer, here are a few points to consider when developing an effective omnichannel strategy.
Being Aware of Your Touchpoints
In the highly competitive retail space, one of the most effective ways for brands to differentiate themselves is to focus on every point of contact they have with a customer and on every interaction customers have with the products and brand. These are all different ways to engage with your customers. Occasionally to inform and introduce yourself during the lead generation phase, occasionally to promote a new product, and occasionally to simply smooth the flow of a transaction.
Simultaneously, the brick-and-mortar environment is a distinct touchpoint that is unlike any other online or social channel. Possibility of face-to-face interaction is something some customers may crave following the protracted covid crisis. Others, not so much. It is critical to understand your customer’s needs and where they are in their journey. Successful retailers will now more than ever leverage all customer and prospect touchpoints to market their brand, but will also communicate with customers across all platforms using relevant and consistent messaging. This includes transferring their online experience to the physical store. In an omnichannel world, your retail brand must be prepared and capable of marketing and selling your product wherever the consumer researches or looks to purchase it, both in-store and online.
The following is an illustration of an omnichannel consumer journey in action: A customer visits your website via one of your social media channels, checks the availability of a product on their computer, but then notices a discount if they purchase it in-store. As a result, they visit your physical location and register for a discount at an in-store kiosk. They test the product in-store with assistance from your sales team. They notice a line on their way to the checkout and are informed that they can actually purchase the item via a smartphone app. As a result, they bypass the checkout line and pay via mobile app.
All of this channel hopping necessitates a high level of consistency across numerous touchpoints. Allowing customers to pick up where they left off the last time they interacted with your products or brand increases the likelihood that they will remain loyal to you.
Now, let’s examine some of these touchpoints in greater detail.