A customer-centric strategy is the only way retailers can remain competitive in a rapidly changing retail environment. How does an omnichannel strategy help retailers deliver a superb customer experience?
1) Omnichannel lets retailers develop a 360-degree view of the customer
Retailers need to create a complete view of the customer if they want to survive in the modern retail sector. Retailers may use social media listening tools, predictive analytics, CRM platforms and other tools to acquire greater insight into customer need.
However, to get the most insight out of all of the information being fed back to the business, the retailer needs to use a platform that can process and integrate data from multiple sources – including internal ones like inventory management systems. This omnichannel solution helps the retailer create a comprehensive picture of its customers – helping it know what they want now, and predict what demand will be in the future.
Once the retailer has this 360-degree view of its customers, it can act to create a service and experience that reduces customer effort and personalises people’s shopping experience.
2) Omnichannel lets retailers create more effective marketing and advertising
Customer experience starts before a person considers making a purchase. According to Kantar Media’s research, 55% of UK consumers often see ads that aren’t relevant to them. Some 91% of people were either ambivalent or disliked advertising in general. We don’t want to be marketed at. Effective marketing and advertising is content that inspires action, not passivity or apathy. Omnichannel solutions give retailers a way to analyse what marketing and advertising would be most effective by examining data across multiple channels and interactions.
An omnichannel strategy helps retailers take a predictive approach and provide personalised content at the right time and over the best channel.
3) Omnichannel’s power to drive personalised content
Customers appreciate it when retailers know who they are, and what their history is with the business. Having to repeat themselves and remind the retailer about their relationship when they’ve been a loyal customer for decades isn’t just a waste of their time, but it’s also alienating. How can people be loyal to a retailer when that retailer doesn’t even know who they are?
To remedy this, retailers need a system in place that collects, records and analyses all possible customer touchpoints, and this system needs to relay this information quickly and clearly to any customer service agent that needs it.
A good omnichannel solution takes all of this data – including any social media interactions with the retailer – and uses it to create a more accurate view of the customer. Now when someone calls customer service or sends the retailer a message on Facebook, the team can respond in a way that shows that they know who the customer is and what interaction they’ve had with the retailer so far. It helps the customer feel valued.
4) Using omnichannel to improve stock availability
One of the primary challenges for retailers – especially fashion retailers – is ordering the right stock, in the right quantities and sizes, and at the correct time. Retailers need a system in place that constantly updates their ecommerce websites with the latest information from their stock systems. It also needs to work with logistics to accurately provide delivery information.
For example, a customer may call to order five items from a website, only to find that one item is out of stock, and two aren’t available in the size and colour advertised. They may then be told that the next day delivery that was advertised isn’t available. It’s understandable that this leaves the customer with a negative impression, but by using an omnichannel solution retailers can collate, track and update information in real-time.
5) Using omnichannel payments to reduce customer effort
Customers want the freedom to choose how to pay for their orders. For example, some will want to pay in cash, while others want contactless payment options or to pay using an app.
Wearables will be the next stage of payment options – with customers going into shops, picking up their item and leaving, knowing that they’ve been tracked and the item billed to their account via the wearable device.
The more payment options available, the more vital an omnichannel solution becomes. Retailers who delay or deny the need for such a system may find that they fall behind their competitors who do more to reduce customer effort.
An omnichannel solution gives retailers more accurate data, allowing them to predict trends and consumer behaviours before they develop, rather than leaving them striving to keep pace with ever-changing consumer demands.
By Natalia Kalinowska, company director of IT solutions provider Comarch UK.