When students want to purchase course materials or emblematic merchandise, is your college store the first choice that comes to mind? How do students view the campus store? These questions are why it is important to strengthen your store’s omnichannel brand experience.
The phrase omnichannel brand experience is filled with a lot of trendy buzzwords, but it is talking about a really basic idea: your store’s reputation influences your shoppers wherever they encounter you. By building a strong store brand that is reflected by its employees at all levels, you can change the dynamic the store has with shoppers.
How can your store start building its omnichannel brand experience?
Assess your current brand
To build brand affinity, you must first honestly look at the brand associations customers already have for your store — some will be positive and some won’t. By understanding your starting position, you can begin to develop your brand strategy, amplifying what your store does well and making small improvements to address problem areas.
Develop your brand identity
When developing your brand identity consider how you want students to view your store and the steps you need to take to make those changes. Let’s say we have a fictional college store that is well regarded for the personalized attention each in-store customer gets, but shoppers are less happy with their experience on the website. The store would like to be universally known for their student-first customer service.
How can the store improve its relationship with shoppers? One way would be to look at what the shoppers like about the in-store experience and develop ways to integrate those benefits to the online store. Maybe the store doesn’t have its complete selection of merchandise on its site. Perhaps it is time for a website redesign. Students might also appreciate in-store order pickups. There are a lot of options stores could implement and test to see what works best for them and what students respond to the most.
Create an aesthetic
It is important to note that omnichannel does not simply mean having a store, website and social media presence. Simply having those pieces that are unconnected is considered a multi-channel presence. While that is important, a true omnichannel experience enables customers to move between each channel seamlessly with a cohesive experience. If a student sees an item in your store that they are undecided about, it should be simple to find that same item in your online store.
Think about all your different sales and communication channels as puzzle pieces of the whole store. Creating a universal look and brand aesthetic can help customers quickly recognize your store wherever they encounter it.
Center everything around the customer
Only 39% of businesses say their brand resonates with customers. When your brand doesn’t resonate with shoppers, they are less likely to come back or recommend your store to someone else. As you evaluate areas that could be improved, make sure to think through the change as a customer. Will it positively change a process the customer is used to? How will you inform students about the new process? Always consider how you can put customer ease and convenience at the forefront.
Personalize each customer’s experience
As a local, on-campus store, you have an advantage in that you know your audience and customers better than anyone. Don’t send out generic marketing messages when you can personalize those messages to really speak to your customers. If a customer has bought a game-day shirt from you, send a targeted email message to them when the next one is released. Utilize CRM to increase sales by giving in-store associates all of the customer’s shopping history at their fingertips.
Take creating your store’s brand experience one step at a time and meticulously build those relationships by providing fantastic service and a complete omnichannel presence.