Customers no longer only shop online or offline. It’s now normal for customers to switch between various channels, from online store, to app, to local branch. Not all retailers are prepared for this, but having the right omnichannel strategy brings vast competitive advantage.
If you shop with British clothing label Oasis, the shopping experience is seamless – no matter which channel you use. For example, if you access its social media channels you receive information on trends and new products. Its smartphone app also informs customers about current sales offers and the nearest brick-and-mortar store. When entering a local branch, a customer can use iPads to look up the latest product information. If an item of clothing is currently not available at that particular store, they can order it directly and have it delivered to their home address.
73 Percent of Customers Use Multiple Channels When Making a Purchase
This strategy puts Oasis ahead of the game in omnichannel commerce. The company makes linking multiple sales channels and customer touchpoints look effortless. According to Harvard Business Review, 73 percent of all customers use multiple channels during their purchase journey. Only when the customer has gathered as much information as possible from a variety of sources to support their purchase decision, will they decide to buy from a retailer. However, not all retailers manage this – by a long way. With a well-thought-out omnichannel strategy for commerce, your business gains a huge competitive advantage; you maintain loyal customer relationships, increase your reach, and gain new prospects.
The key point of omnichannel commerce is thinking much more about the customer: what will guarantee them the best shopping experience? Our main task is to allow customers to switch between various sales channels along their journey – whether in-store, mobile, or online. And, to make this as smooth as possible.
Andreas Conrad, Director of Omnichannel, Rewe Digital GmbH
Seamlessly Connected Processes
Omnichannel commerce means much more than just consistent visual presentation across all channels. Many end-to-end processes need to be linked seamlessly, from first contact to delivery or the cash register. This challenge appears to deter many European businesses, at least according to the Global Omnichannel Retail Index 2017. Where English speaking countries are top performers (the USA, UK, Australia, and Canada are in the top five for omnichannel commerce), Germany lags behind in 17th position.
The question is: How do you implement an omnichannel strategy without enormous effort? The basis for a successful omnichannel commerce strategy is a central data platform that comprises all information and processes. Each and every employee, whether in marketing, customer service, or in-store, has access to up-to-date customer information and activities on any device. Any changes made via one device are then immediately visible on all other devices.
Connect Businesses Processes and Personalize Customer Offers
With the help of such data platforms, you can optimize your omnichannel strategy at every stage and link your internal processes to allow seamless collaboration between individual departments. In this way, employees in marketing can gather information on a store and plan campaigns tailored to current customer preferences and demands. At the same time, you can personalize offers for each customer – ideally from an individual customer profile where their entire purchase history is stored. Through this, the customer can also log in to their profile on your website, order items, and collect them at their local store. Having their purchase history stored allows you to recommend other products based on their interests either in your app or newsletter.
Using Oasis as an example, companies should look to combine all customer data and company processes into one central platform. This will enable them to offer a smooth, omnichannel customer experience which in turn will increase reach and guarantee an increase in revenue.