In the new digital era, customers are expecting to buy your products from not only any device but also to seamlessly transition from your ecommerce site to your physical stores. This revolution in shopping behavior presents an enormous challenge not only in how you sell to customers but also in how you fulfill their orders and provide customer service.
You need to create a seamless experience across all channels for the customer. For example, someone could find your product on your ecommerce site via Google on their mobile, then research online using their laptop, look at your social media, then visit your store and finally return to their mobile to buy. The customer’s experience needs to be consistent across all these environments in terms of branding, pricing, product description, stock control, imagery and customer service.
This new interconnected, fluid way of shopping online and offline across multiple touch points is generally referred to as omni-channel retailing.
Burberry, Oasis and Apple are all examples that do omni-channel and ecommerce retailing excellently. As you walk into an Oasis store, a fashion retailer in the UK, store assistants are armed with iPads. This enables them to find up-to-date product information for the customer there and then. Even if the product is not available in store, the iPads will allow the store assistant to place an order online through their ecommerce site for the product to be delivered to your door. Mobile checkout is also available on the iPads so customers no longer have to wait in a queue to purchase their product. This brings together their website, mobile and in-store experience to be consistent for the customer.
Here are some typical scenarios to explain omni-channel retailing.
1. The compulsive online shopper
These online shoppers will use their laptop, mobile, computer or tablet to access your ecommerce website typically via a Google search. If they are happy with the product and price, they are quite comfortable purchasing online having never visited your store or spoken with you. However these people may also search for offers online and look at other ecommerce sites such as Ebay, Amazon or other marketplaces. Ensure your messaging, product info and pricing is consistent across all of these platforms.
2. Mobile junkies – the deal hunters
These people live on their mobile and use the latest tech to help them find the best deal. However mobile shoppers aren’t always neglecting the in-store experience. For example a customer can view a product they like on your ecommerce site, visit the store to have a closer look, use their mobile phone whilst in-store to check for better deals, and then end up buying online after finding a better price. Nonetheless, the in-store experience still plays a key part of the process.
3. The obsessive researcher
These customers are very thorough and will go online before purchasing a product to read customer reviews, visit comparison sites, visit a store to speak with a real person, and research purchasing terms before making a decision. To cater to these people you must ensure your product information is consistent across all online and offline media and also ensure your staff are fully aware of how you describe your products online and on your ecommerce site.
4. The High Street shopper
Yes they still exist! Despite this new digital and ecommerce world, people still like to go out shopping on a weekend in the same way as before. The only difference is that now they may go online to try and find a better price before purchasing. The challenge for retailers is to either stop them doing this by bringing the digital world into the stores (with iPads for example), or ensure that when they go online you are the first thing they see and the pricing is consistent on your ecommerce site.
No longer is a single-channel world enough for customers. It’s apparent that in order to succeed in omni-channel retailing and run a successful ecommerce site, you need to ensure customers see your store as a consistent, accurate and transparent ecosystem as opposed to a fragmented experience across multiple devices that have different branding, photography and pricing.
Omni-channel retailing is all about delivering a consistent, connective and interactive experience, where the customer is reached through a variety of channels, and not only an ecommerce site. However retail stores need to coordinate their information across channels seamlessly, and integrate all devices into the customer experience. Speed, accuracy and consistency of information is key to succeeding in this new omni-channel world.