Five Winning Strategies for Omnichannel Retail Marketing
Omnichannel is no longer an option, it’s absolutely essential for retail success. Retailers that employ omnichannel retail marketing strategies experience 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to businesses that don’t, according to a recent survey by Aspect Software. Armed with this understanding, retailers are raising the bar in omnichannel marketing with new technologies and skills to serve their customers at every touchpoint. Here are 5 actionable tactics retailers can employ to move toward an omnichannel retail marketing strategy.
Any Way You Want It
Omnichannel gives customers what they want, when and where they want it. A core strategy of omnichannel retail is to empower customers to order online and pick up their products in the way that’s most convenient for them. For some people, waiting a day or two for delivery is fine, but others want to get their products quickly by picking up in-store. Retailers like Target make this really easy with same-day pickup and dedicated parking spaces and pickup areas for online orders. Some stores even have a pick-up parking area where associates will bring the orders out to the car- a huge help for parents with a car full of kids! And the benefits aren’t only for the customers, retailers win because 49% of shoppers made additional purchases while picking up their items in-store.
In the Palm of Their Hands
For ardent shoppers, there’s nothing worse than finding the perfect dress and then discovering that it’s out of stock in their size. Out of stock situations dramatically reduce the satisfaction a consumer has with a purchase decision. It can lead to store- or brand-switching, complaints, and negative word-of-mouth, and 55% of consumers will switch retailers if their preferred method of fulfillment isn’t available. Gone are the days when customers had to visit the Customer Service desk to ask a sales associate to call other stores and see if a product was available elsewhere. These days, advanced POS systems keep inventories up to date online for quick and easy information retrieval. Today, a customer at Banana Republic can talk to any sales associate to not only find a product in her size at another location, but have it shipped to her home for free. Many retailers provide tablets to sales associates so they can help with product searches and information on the sales floor. With this strategy, like the others, it’s important to know your customer and the ways they want to receive your products because 55% of consumers will switch retailers if their preferred method of fulfillment isn’t available.
Power to the People
The omnichannel retail landscape is full of examples of retailers who give their sales associates tablets so they can better assist customers in-store. But some stores are cutting out the middleman, putting that information right in the hands of their customers. This can be accomplished through mobile phone apps, stationary tablets in-store, or by giving each customer a tablet to empower them while they shop in your store. Timberland customers are a hands-on lot who love to explore and discover things on their own. That’s why the brand created mobile tablets that are linked to tags on the products in-store, and they allow customers to take them around while shopping. A simple tap brings up detailed product specifics, empowering Timberland customers to discover what products will work best for their needs. The shopping tool is also available by downloading the Timberline app, and the in-app experience also brings in customers’ social feeds and shopping history. By connecting shoppers’ in-store experience to the information they get when shopping online, Timberline is enhancing the brand experience.
Follow Them Anywhere
Your customers want to be known and understood, wherever and whenever they shop with you. Customers use an average of six touchpoints before buying an item, and in an ideal world, retailers would be able to support and identify customers seamlessly across each of these touchpoints. When they research in-store, on their phone, PC, and tablet, smart retailers find a way to be there and remember what they were looking for. Loyalty programs are key to this kind of omnichannel retail marketing strategy: you want your customer to self-identify at each step of the way by logging in, so you can serve them the products, sizes, and availability that’s relevant to them. Starbucks is one brand that does an amazing job of connecting with customers at each step of the buying journey. The Starbucks app gives latte lovers a real benefit in their daily lives by allowing them to order on their phones and skip the line at the coffee shop. It tracks purchases and gives flexible rewards using Starbucks Rewards. Impressively, the app is also connected to the marketing emails that Starbucks sends out, so when customers click on offers in their emails, they are automatically uploaded into the app without making them log in. And customers love the convenience: over 40 percent of sales in the second quarter of 2019 came from the app.
Save the Sales When Things Go Wrong
We’ve all seen examples of customer service gone wrong- angry tweets from retailers, media stories about poor service, and review sites full of stories of missed opportunities to win over customers. On a day to day basis, thousands of customer complaints are ignored because retailers simply don’t invest in the tools to monitor their brand across the many channels where people are talking about them. 64% of customers expect to receive real-time assistance regardless of the customer service channel they use.
Good omnichannel customer service is responsive and helpful, maintaining brand voice and providing detailed help whether the customer reaches out via phone, email, live chat, SMS or social media. The personal touch is key- as chatbots and offshore customer service mills grow in popularity, the companies that win are the ones with a personal touch. But the personal touch is better when powered by technology- there’s nothing better than calling a helpdesk and having the person on the other end recognize you by name right away. United Airlines does this well, empowering their customer service agents with real-time details on customer profiles, reservations, and current air traffic issues. This means that when a customer calls with a problem, the person on the other end already has all of their information and can move directly into providing answers and solutions. Retailers can learn from this example to quickly resolve customer issues instead of throwing up roadblocks.
Omnichannel retail marketing strategies continue to evolve, empowered by new technologies and driven by customer demand. Shining stars like Starbucks, Timberland, United Airlines, and Target are winning and keeping customers by recognizing them anywhere and providing the right information and service at the right time. Digital receipts, printed receipt offers, digital packing slips and e-comm notifications communicate with your customers at a peak point of interest. Offering personalized and engaging messages at these touchpoints helps to enhance the shopper journey and improve retention. Retailers in 2019 will win when they employ the right omnichannel tactics to give their customers what they want, when they want it.
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