Today’s consumers generally complete a myriad of interactions across several channels when making a purchase. Though omnichannel shoppers make up less than one-tenth of customers, they account for 27% of all sales. Brands that understand omnichannel’s value and the related shifts in consumer behavior are increasing their omnichannel investments. If you’re still unsure about omnichannel retailing, here are seven reasons why it may be crucial for your business.
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1. Omnichannel Returns
Consumers want the ability to make returns through different channels. They want a convenient and hassle-free returns policy with no shipping fees. Many retailers are picking up on shoppers’ needs, and are using the returns process to improve customer relationships.
BORIS: 75% of online shoppers prefer visiting a physical store to return a purchase over shipping it back, a statistic that may have inspired the Buy-Online-Return-In-Store (BORIS) option. With this strategy, consumers can return items regardless of how they purchased them. As one example, the Walmart Mobile Express app feature allows customers to return purchases via their mobile app.
Drop-Off Lockers: Drop-off lockers such as Amazon Lockers meet consumers’ need for ‘anywhere, anytime’ returns and provide simple, secure fulfillment. When considering this option for your company, clearly state which items are eligible for drop-off, place your lockers in centralized locations for convenience and security purposes, and use codes or QR scans to enable locker access for customers. To ensure that your omnichannel return strategy gives you an edge over other retailers, promote your return options on your website and use data analytics or RFID tags to prevent return fraud.
2. Consumer Driven Fulfillment
55% of consumers will switch to a competing retailer/brand if offered a faster delivery service. Below are two options for improving the delivery experience.
Ship from Store: With fast shipping times qualifying as a competitive advantage, this model can help you fulfill orders from any channel. To optimize this strategy, maintain real-time visibility of your inventory, use technology to manage order fulfillment without eroding your in-store experience, and group items that often ship together.
Endless Aisles: To reduce out-of-stock issues, retailers are turning to endless aisles to make sure that they always have items in stock. Successful strategies will help associates easily access inventory figures and prioritize technology such as interactive kiosks, which provide a curated experience by suggesting similar items. To choose the ideal omnichannel fulfillment operation, begin with a holistic view of your business, channels, and segments.
Nearly 75% of shoppers have used a physical store to examine products before they purchase them online (often through a competitor). To hedge against “showrooming,” as it’s known, and lock down sales, you need an omnichannel strategy that pushes consumers to check out with your brand. Here’s how you can adapt to the showrooming phenomenon:
Guide Shops: If you’re a pure play brand, consider incorporating a guide shop where customers can view products or try them before ordering, like Bonobos does. Deploy knowledgeable staff to help consumers find what they want and equip them with tools such as iPads to check product availability at all store locations, and offer free home delivery.
Bring Checkout to Shoppers: To reduce the number of consumers walking out of your store without making a purchase, arm sales associates with mobile devices to help customers order items in the store or instantly check out. Coach store associates use iPads to access customer information, process mobile payments, and help shoppers along every step of their journey.
Showrooming isn’t going away. Make the most of the trend by continuously looking for ways to improve your in-store experience. Collect data from store visits and analyze brick and mortar customer experiences to identify which associate actions drive engagement and conversion.
Omnichannel shoppers who research products before making an in-store purchase demonstrate 13% greater in-store spending than other shoppers. To reach these shoppers, omnichannel capabilities can draw consumers to your store. Below are some tips that may help out.
Integrated Pricing: To make sure they get the best deal, consumers compare online and store prices before making a purchase. Use an omnichannel pricing method to keep sticker values consistent across all channels and reduce purchase barriers.
Real-Time In-Store Offers: Use location data or iBeacons to identify consumers as they enter your store, and serve them relevant real-time offers based on their exact location. Need some guidance? Check out how Sephora uses their mobile app for location-based marketing.
In-Store Visibility: Take the guesswork out of local shopping by allowing consumers to check in-store inventory online or through your mobile app. Activate options to search/filter by store, product category, and item, making sure your inventory is updated in real time.
5. Customer Service
When it comes to customer service, consumers don’t want to repeat themselves to multiple customer service reps, and they expect agent accessibility on any channel. As such, it’s clear that you can’t deliver a good service experience without omnichannel customer support. Below are a few components to consider:
Self-Service: With two-thirds of all customers preferring to first try and solve issues themselves, omnichannel customer support is built on self-service. Self-service options such as portals and online forums, assisted channels that address customers’ needs, and seamless transition from self-help to agent-assisted service will mitigate or lessen the chances of frustration.
Channel preference: As 59% of consumers use three or more channels to ask questions, an omnichannel support strategy ensures your 24/7 reachability on multiple channels and on any device, all while delivering a cohesive user experience. Conduct a survey to determine which channels customers favor for interactions and provide at least a few ways for them to interact with you.
Continue the Conversation: As highlighted above, consumers don’t want to have to repeat their questions to multiple agents. With omnichannel customer support, CS representatives have a 360-degree view of the customer and are able to deliver seamless, unified, and proactive customer service experiences across every touchpoint.
6. Mobile Apps
Consumers today spend 18 million hours in shopping apps. Retail apps with omnichannel features have become essential to delivering a unified shopping experience to drive both in-store and digital traffic. Here’s how retailers use in-app omnichannel features to deliver an exceptional CX:
Store Maps: To help consumers save time, in-store maps allow consumers to navigate stores easily and quickly locate products. 14% of consumers want in-store navigation via mobile apps such as Walmart’s Store Assistant, which activates when shoppers visit stores and helps them locate items.
Reservations: To help consumers make the right online purchases, many retailers allow consumers to reserve items and try them on in-store via mobile apps. This omnichannel strategy helps reduce returns and improves the shopping experience. Nike’s At Retail app, for example, includes a reserve and try feature, where consumers can reserve items online and try them on in-store.
Payment: As consumers expect payment options independent of touchpoint, digital wallets are becoming a reliable payment option. This mode of payment is super convenient for consumers and can help drive mobile app engagement. With the launch of Walmart Pay, payments made through their app jumped 45%. Though digital wallets are an attractive option, keep in mind that the success of this feature depends on the user experience and how secure the digital wallet is.
7. Loyalty Programs
Consumers expect to be able to “earn and burn” their loyalty rewards in whichever way is most convenient. 87% of Gen Z consumers want to be awarded points for walking into a brand’s location or store. This change in consumer expectations calls for an omnichannel loyalty program that meets consumers’ engagement needs. Check out these refined loyalty program features:
Rewards: Omnichannel loyalty programs reward consumers for activities across every channel. This type of rewards program motivates customers to make purchases and helps them earn rewards faster. Tommy Hilfiger rewards customers for wearing garments, sharing pictures of themselves wearing the clothes, and traveling to certain locations at specific times during the day.
Real-Time Updates: Since it can be difficult for consumers to keep track of earned points and when to redeem them, omnichannel loyalty programs update purchase, balance, or profile changes in real-time across all channels, helping consumers keep track of points.
Omnichannel Is the New Normal
Omnichannel retailing merges the online and physical shopping experience to give consumers a unified and personalized interface. Use customer journey analytics platforms to get a single, unified view of your customers as they interact with your brand across different touchpoints. And don’t forget about your data – real-time data will enhance your personalization efforts. Omnichannel consumers are here to stay, and retailers who adopt this trend will win market share and remain relevant.