Omni-channel strategy apt for a unified customer experience in retail
Brands from the retail sector recognize the constant need to be connected to their customers. Omnichannel marketing allows marketers to provide an unparalleled shopping experience across channels inclusive of digital and physical stores.
Let us begin with a simple definition – An omnichannel strategy (i.e., omnichannel marketing) is when the customer is kept at the heart of the equation and is engaged differently on all the channels based on where they are in the customer lifecycle. Being present at the different touchpoints of a customer’s buying journey is critical to a brand’s success. In order to do that, brands should be aware of the customer’s needs, wants, and preferences.
A successful omnichannel strategy keeps the customers’ data and product data synced across all channels. The ultimate aim is to optimize customer convenience so that every aspect of engagement with a brand is seamless.
E-commerce has been touted as the channel of choice for retailers. U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the first quarter of 2022 totaled $231.4 billion. (https://frontofficesports.com/pro-archive/e-commerce-industry-experiences-strong-headwinds/ ) We can attribute this growth to the critical role that social media continues to play in the advertising space. Amazon is the undisputed leader in the online retail space–accounting for 39.5% of all US retail eCommerce sales in 2022. The e-commerce giant has been described as ruthless, and efficient, and has set the bar so high that the rest of the retail space is still playing catch up.
If you’re a marketer, you’re probably used to third-party cookies being an essential part of your Ad targeting approach to potential buyers. Given the rising concerns of user tracking, privacy issues, and security risks, the phase-out of third-party cookies has begun and retailers need to be aware of its impact.
Traditionally, retailers have relied on data management platforms and third-party data service offerings in order to understand customers, behavior patterns, preferences, and segmentation. The most significant impact of the third-party cookie demise is the loss of identifiers. In addition to this, stringent privacy policies such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) do not make it easy for retailers. Hence owning first-party data about their customers is the defining factor that helps identify and understand their customers in a seamless and unhindered manner.
There are many ways in which access to first-party data can be sought, one of them is either building out your own infrastructure for first-party data collection, storage, and use; or the other alternative is opting for an easy-to-use, first-party data enablement service provider. Either way, getting hold of a firm omnichannel approach can work wonders for the retail sector.
Working the Omnichannel approach
As I mentioned earlier, the omnichannel approach integrates multiple shopping channels, including TV, mobile apps, websites, phone, etc. These different consumer touch points are in constant communication and there’s inventory visibility across all the channels. For instance, a customer can start a purchase in one a mobile app and complete it on the company’s website. Alternatively, a customer can see an item in a store, go home, purchase it online, and pick it up later from another nearby store.
How to use the Omnichannel approach
Below are a few essential tips that will help any retail brand optimize its shopping experience better.
Optimize across channels including Apps
Lisa Gevelber, Google’s VP of Marketing, says that in moments of need, 96% of the users reach out to their smartphone to find answers. They have become so integral to the decision-making process that 70% of smartphone owners turn to their devices before making a purchase in-store. That’s why it comes as no surprise that individuals spend 50% of their time on mobile apps. From a business perspective, mobile apps are emerging as one of the reliable channels for driving conversions. The State of Mobile 2019 reported 194 billion mobile app downloads in 2018, a clear indication that this is one channel that can bring you sales if utilized the right way.
However, with more than 2.1 million apps listed on the Android play store and more than 1 million on Apple’s app store, garnering the attention of your customers and prospects on an app can be quite a task. And even if you get them to your app, keeping them engaged on your platform and reducing the churn by retaining them requires some marketing efforts. That’s where omnichannel marketing strategy comes to help. It helps you to keep your users invested in your app throughout the customer journey – right from the time you onboard them till the time you retain and convert them into brand advocates.
Optimizing for mobile devices can have a positive impact on achieving higher engagement and ROAS. Studies show that 62 percent of smartphone users in Britan have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months, according to EuroITGroup. As a retailer, you should embrace mobile optimization to give consumers a seamless mobile experience. Make sure your mobile app or website is optimized for various smartphones and tablets and has a simplified navigation process to make it easy for consumers to get what they are looking for.
Personalizing offers for the users
A research by Infosys reveals that 31% of the surveyed consumers expected better personalization in their shopping experience than the current one. In an era of Netflix and Amazon, a brand that personalizes the user’s experience, especially on mobile apps, witnesses more growth than non-personalized ones. Omnichannel marketing allows you to segment your users based on different parameters and deliver personalized offers to them.
Worldpay reveals that 67% of shoppers begin their shopping on one device and finish it on the other device. A user might lose interest in your brand if they have to search and add items all over again after switching devices. Omnichannel marketing lets you create a seamless experience not only on the web but also on a mobile app for your users; so users can shop anywhere, anytime without going through the drill of searching, adding, and completing transactions repeatedly.
Generates higher AOV
According to a study by OmniSend, customers who interact with a campaign on three or more channels are more likely to purchase and come back for repeat purchase than those who interact with a single-channel campaign. The study further revealed that the Average Order Value for an omnichannel campaign was 13% higher than that of a single-channel campaign.
The biggest challenge here is if you don’t have a single view of customer activity across channels. Apart from access to unhindered access to seamless, authentic, quick first-party data. Information that you gather needs to come in a standard manner and having a stable infrastructure to handle these data volumes can be a challenge to navigate as well.
As the retail industry continues to revolutionize the shopping experience and consumers adopt new purchasing habits, adopting the right omnichannel approach paired with an excellent first-party data enabler can elevate your campaign efficiency and overall performance, as a result benefitting your eCommerce business.