Retail opportunities have become ubiquitous across all platforms and potential customers expect to be able to take advantage of this irrespective of where they choose to shop. Appealing to the multichannel shopper is a good place to start, but you should be providing a truly seamless customer experience to stay ahead of the game.
That means embracing an omnichannel approach, which goes beyond just offering transactions in store and online. All of the interactions between your brand and the customer must be cohesive, enabling them to swap between channels at will and still get a high standard of care.
1. Adapt to shifting expectations
It used to be that customers were fairly consistent with the ways they engaged with a brand, but their expectations have shifted. Now, hectic schedules, comfort levels and the ability to manipulate technological solutions to suit specific requirements means they’re more likely to use multiple touchpoints. Businesses that are dynamic and can move between channels efficiently will attract more shoppers.
2. Embrace omnichannel practices in the physical retail space
Brands that rely heavily on being a physical retailer can take advantage of omnichannel elements that have become standard practice. For example, shoppers have become accustomed to buying online and picking up in store to help fit shopping into their busy lives, or purchasing items through touchless self checkout options.
3. Utilizing multi-merchant platforms online
Many brands that have their own websites still offer their products through multi-merchant platforms like Amazon or Etsy as well. That’s because shoppers are familiar with the user experience on these sites and have come to trust it and be comfortable with the format. This is backed up by the convenience of only having to make one payment for multiple items from a selection of retailers.
4. Transcend channels
The brand relationship you build through interactions with your customers should transcend the channels you use to communicate with them. This requires full integration of customer data across all your systems to allow shoppers to pick up where they left off without the need to repeat information they’ve already provided to your company all over again.
5. Offer cross-channel customer support
As well as providing the opportunity to purchase on multiple channels, brands must offer a similar level of coverage for customer support. Shoppers expect to be able to use the same channels they do to buy products when they need more information or to resolve an issue with an order. Even if something’s gone wrong, easily accessible support across all channels can help to retain the loyalty of the customer and see them purchase from your brand again in the future.
6. Offer personalization
Personalization has been popular in the retail sector for a while and shows no signs of abating. Individualized experiences encourage shoppers to make purchases, but many marketing strategies by brands only implement them on a single channel, making the juxtaposition between media all the more apparent. Investing in a comprehensive approach to personalization can help businesses outsell their competitors.
7. Provide an experience not just a transaction
Looking towards the future of retail, it’s clear that customers will demand a combination of digital and physical shopping that offers them the best elements of each. David Dobson, Director of Retail, Hospitality and Consumer Goods at Intel, believes this integrated solution will do away with online versus in-store. Instead, high streets will offer mixed-use experiences and physical stores will offer a type of showrooming for online purchases.