The following excerpt is from an article written by Pradeep Aradhya and published on MobileCommerceDaily.com. Aradhya offers some great advice on your how store can go omnichannel and why its so essential to your continued success that you consider making this buzzword part of your business model. Check out his suggestions below then view the full article for more details:
Omnichannel is not a buzzword anymore. Leading brands in more than a few verticals are mid-execution and fast discovering that for their consumers mobile is at the center of omnichannel. One new mantra is closing the gap between store, desktop and mobile. However the marketer’s mantra has always been reaching customers wherever they are and in today’s world that means mobile.
Here is an easily accessed statement online – no consultant required – in regard to “customer desire:” “The omnichannel consumer wants to use all channels simultaneously, and retailers using an omnichannel approach will track customers across all channels, not just one or two."
“In the bricks-and-mortar channel, digitally savvy consumers are entering stores already well-informed about a product’s features and prices, and expect store employees to know more than they do. Using omnichannel retailing while working with the ‘Connected Consumer,’ all shopping channels work from the same database of products, prices, promotions, etc. Instead of perceiving a variety of touch points as part of the same brand, omnichannel retailers let consumers experience the brand, not a channel within a brand. Merchandise and promotions are not channel specific, but rather consistent across all retail channels. The bricks-and-mortar stores become an extension of the supply chain in which purchases may be made in the store, but are researched through other ‘channels’ of communication. With omnichannel retailing, marketing is made more efficient with offers that are relative to a specific consumer determined by purchase patterns, social network affinities, Web site visits, loyalty programs, and other data mining techniques.”
If your brand does not have omnichannel initiatives already working, then your brand is behind.
An estimated 147.9 million people in the United States own smartphones, which is a 62 percent mobile market penetration. A brand’s messaging, product or service information, offers and loyalty platform are very likely to be accessed on mobile and abandoned if not optimized for mobile. Eighty-four percent of shoppers with smartphones use their devices to help shop in the store and 54 percent compare prices in the store on their mobile devices. One in three uses their devices to find information rather than ask store personnel. Further, consumers expect in-store interactivity including digital walls, couponing and checkout to be mobile accessible.
So how can a marketer address and engage this new anytime, anywhere customer?
The following three stages should be considered along your path in building a nimble and mature engagement platform:
Stage 1 Minimum ante: Mobile optimization, cross-channel data
The phrase mobile-first is just the tip of the iceberg. The minimum expectation from today’s customer is that she can reach, see and interact with content from your brand from anywhere and at any time i.e. most likely a mobile device.
Your online presence and all outward bound messaging must be mobile-optimized messaging. This means all digital ads and offers, Web pages, email campaigns, landing pages and any product or service information.
Further, all of this messaging should be targetable based on a 360-degree view of customer and behavior.
This means that all customer information and behavior must be consolidated and clarified across all channels and touch points so that they can be analyzed and leveraged for targeting and personalization.
Stage 2 Really good hand: Loyalty program, location-based offers, social network
Customers of multiple industries, from healthcare to travel, have come to expect personalized interactions across different channels.
IBM’s study shows customers are willing to share details about themselves, particularly if they receive a personalized experience in return.
The new expectation is that customers can access such personalized interactions and loyalty programs on demand on their mobile devices.
In stage 2, marketers need to connect personal data with behavior data across channels and enable offers and loyalty rewards on mobile in a way that reach customers with location based specificity.
Achieving stage 2 may require finding and integrating technology solutions around loyalty and offer management with infrastructure from stage 1 or with previously developed loyalty and offer programs in other channels.
Stage 3 All in: Fulfillment tracking, customer service, in-store interactivity, mobile checkout
Price consistency across shopping, the ability to ship items that are out of stock in-store directly to their home, the option to track the status of an order, consistent product assortment across channels and the ability to return online purchases in-store round out the top five attributes prized by customers in IBM’s survey.
Many brands already enjoy incredible customer loyalty by providing exemplary customer service both before and after sale. Leading brands are making this customer service available anywhere and anytime via mobile.
Look at Guess and Trunkclub’s fashion advisors. Making customer services in various forms available on mobile is another important and incredibly engaging aspect of the brand.
Steady increase in mobile transactions indicates mobile checkout will fast become an expectation from your customers. It provides a great opportunity to connect customer paths in-store directly into a loyalty program with immediate rewards for the purchase.
ACHIEVING STAGE 3 is complex. Technologies in multiple areas need to be evaluated and integrated. Prioritize your path through this maze based on anticipated customer engagement balanced against your current capabilities in technology.
Brands that can connect a completely mobile-accessible brand messaging and experience backed by cross-channel data along with services, fulfillment tracking, in-store interactivity and checkout on mobile for their customers would have reached a fully rounded engagement platform for the new anywhere, anytime customer.
MBS Systems has been helping stores go omnichannel for years - far before it ever became a buzzword. Take a look at how we can help your store achieve each of the steps mentioned above.