Omnichannel Retail Shopping [Part 1]
Caring For Your Customer In The Omnichannel Marketplace
Ninety percent of consumers still buy in person.
When it comes to shopping, there is a lot of talk around ecommerce, online consumer targeting, social media, and more. But even with all this online activity, data shows that 90 percent of consumers still purchase products in person (Forrester Research). We are seeing that even though consumers go to a brick and mortar store to make a purchase, it does not mean that they visited the store to research, review, or select the item for purchase. The consumer’s purchasing habits have evolved to include all channels for shopping, and the process for choosing an item and then buying it, have forever changed.
They shop across all marketing channels.
Today’s consumer is shopping whenever they want, on whatever device they select, in whatever place they choose, for products in all categories, across all marketing channels both online and offline. They are omnichannel shoppers. Omnichannel defines how retail businesses are interacting with customers today. The relationship has moved from multichannel, when retailers served customers from their brick and mortar store along with an e-commerce website, advertising was done for each channel, and sales were tracked separately. Now, omnichannel defines how business plays out as the retail store and online channels are permanently intertwined and interdependent.
Consumers mix and match channels based on convenience.
Retailers need to use as many channels as their customers use. It is no longer effective to think of online and offline marketing as separate because that is not how the consumer uses the channels. The consumer mixes and matches how they get information on a daily basis, depending on what is most convenient for them at the time. The term omnichannel reflects the idea that consumers not only use many channels, they use them all together, and their path to a purchase is fluid and varied. They may do product research on their tablet, see your product ads on their smartphone, make ecommerce purchases on their laptops, and receive emails on all of their devices. They are seeing advertisements in their search results, on public and private websites, on social media, and sent via email. Every business has the ability to be in touch with their customers 24/7.
So how can a retailer best respond to the omnichannel shopper?
Start with a responsive website.
With all of this online browsing and shopping, it is a primary requirement for retailers to have a responsive website. A responsive website is mobile friendly and built to know what type of device a consumer is using. The website will seamlessly adjust how it is displayed so that browsing and shopping is easy on all devices including desk-top monitors, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. A responsive website allows the retailer to have one website to update and maintain while meeting the needs and preferences of the consumer. The goal is to optimize the website experience, making it simple no matter what channel the consumer chooses for engaging with your brand. Because we have fully embraced mobile technology, retailers need to incorporate ways to use mobile to enhance the consumer shopping experience at home, on the go, and in their store.
Your app may need to be reinvented.
Many businesses have invested in developing mobile apps for advertising and purchasing, but data shows that consumers do not use them, and often forget they have them. Consumer trends show that people are much more likely to use a mobile website over an app (Forrester Research). To have a great app you need to provide a function that the user engages with almost daily. You can see this from the list of the top ten apps in 2014, according to Nielson (the company that measures TV ratings):
2. Google Search
4. Google Play
5. Google Maps
7. Facebook Messenger
10. Music (iTunes Radio/iCloud)
Some retailers are revisiting their use of apps and looking to build an app that will keep shoppers engaged with their brand, instead of just trying to drive the purchase of a product. So before you invest in building an app, really consider whether your customers will use it. A responsive website may be a better place to spend your money.
Next month we will continue the discussion on Omnichannel Retail with a look at what consumers want from your brick and mortar store. Please feel free to send your thoughts, questions, and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.