Create an exclusive experience for your customers with omni-channel retailing
According to the 2016 Mobile Report for Spain and the world, 60% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device. Furthermore, according to a survey by The CMO Club, 63% of shops are in the process of implementing an omni-channel initiative as part of their business strategy.
Customers interact with the brand through a variety of channels, such as social media, websites, points of sale, call centres etc. Omni-channel retailing combines the best of offline and online environments, and strengthens the customers´ relationship with the brand by offering shopping experiences which are increasingly more personalised and attractive.
Customers want a truly personalised shopping experience
Personalisation creates a much closer relationship between the customers and the brand, allowing the shop to make all its resources available to its customers in order to build customer trust, and provide a perfect shopping experience.
Omni-channel retailing provides seamless instant communication with customers across all the channels, which means they can choose which channel they want to use, change channels, or combine different channels whenever they want.
Customer loyalty is built by offering customers the best possible experience, whether it be in the shop, on the website, or through social media or any other channel. One of the major benefits of this is that the brand has in-depth knowledge of its customers, and their product preferences, which enables it to choose the most appropriate strategy when setting prices, preparing offers and promotions, and in other sales areas.
We will now explain the different terms used to describe the interaction channels between the company and its customers:
A single-channel strategy is when a company focuses on reaching its customers through a single channel of communication. This channel may be sales in a bricks-and-mortar shop, online commerce, or a different channel. Each channel has its own advantages and disadvantages. The main limitation of using a single channel to win customers and build loyalty is that the company misses out on the opportunities to reach a larger number of users and potential customers that are offered by the new technologies.
The term multichannel describes a strategy whereby a company targets its customers using different channels, such as call centres, catalogues, websites, social media, the media, advertising etc. Multi-channel is not a new concept, as it was used by companies before the advent of the Internet and mobile phones. What is new, however, is that it is now much easier for consumers to access all these channels, thanks to the new digital devices (smartphones, tablets, Smart TVs, etc.). These channels will continue to increase as new smart devices come onto the market.
The term cross-channel describes the experience of a customer who uses a combination of several different channels for the same purchase. For example, a customer prints out the specifications of a product from a company´s website, and then goes to the shop to buy the article. Another example is a customer who chooses a product in a company´s catalogue, buys it on the website or through their Smart TV, and then picks it up at the closest shop. Retailers have to make sure that customers find it easy to combine all the channels available to them.
An omni-channel strategy consists of offering a unique, personalised shopping and communication experience between the brand and each customer. With omni-channel a customer can access the brand or cancel a purchase through several different channels, or access the brand through several different channels simultaneously, but will always enjoy a seamless personalised shopping experience across all the channels. In order to ensure that every channel can offer this personalised experience customer data and customer interaction data should be stored on each channel, and all the channels should be connected in such a way that the information is updated and coordinated in real time. Omni-channel retailing means that the company has to have the capacity to manage each individual customer, and each stage of the buying process, across all the channels available to the customers.
Main advantages of the omni-channel strategy:
- Increased sales: retailers have to focus not only on sales in bricks-and-mortar shops, but also on sales through digital channels. Omni-channel retailing permits greater connectivity and integration between the two, maximising the advantages of each channel to achieve more profitable results for the company.
- Enhanced customer perception: the customer feels that the brand is offering them the best service across all the channels. Customers today expect brands to be digitally savvy, and to provide an enjoyable online shopping experience. Brands that achieve this will increase the trust their customers have in them.
- Better knowledge of customers: thanks to omni-channel communication the brand will be able to learn more about customer needs and preferences, which will help it implement effective and timely sales strategies. A well-conceived and implemented omni-channel strategy will enable the company to offer each customer what they want, and to achieve the desired results.
- Effective social media: if the brand can collect information about consumers through its social media sites, and incorporate it in its communication and omni-channel sales strategies, it will be able to communicate much more effectively, and increase not only its brand recognition but also its sales.