Omnichannel strategy has been a growing buzzword over the past several years, and it’s not likely to go away anytime soon.
Traditionally brick-and-mortar retail stores have been moving into the e-commerce space for years, but the real sign that omnichannel is here to stay is that online-only giants like Amazon and Alibaba have both recently opened physical locations.
If you sell from both brick-and-mortar and online retail locations — or even sell online through multiple channels — it’s time to sit up and start paying attention.
Embracing an omnichannel strategy isn’t as easy as setting up multiple shops. If you aren’t working to integrate your customer experience across all of your locations — whether physical or digital — you risk turning off more customers than you would if you didn’t offer the option in the first place.
- 90 percent of consumers expect to have a consistent experience with your brand — no matter what device they’re on, or what location they’re shopping at.
- 61 percent of customers experience problems switching from one channel to the next.
- And 55 percent of businesses don’t have an omnichannel marketing strategy in place. What a way to stand out from your competition!
Poor omnichannel a trap many companies fall into. Why? Because too many are focusing on the technology, rather than the humans. That’s understandable — automation software, big data, click-and-collect, and other big technology buzzwords get the spotlight. And yes, companies who do omnichannel well are using these tools to the best of advantage.
But they’re not using them because they’re trendy — they’re using them to help create a more frictionless human experience for the customers.
Earning your customers’ trust is all about creating a smooth experience:
…Between all of your customer service channels.
We’ve all been passed from one customer service rep to the next, forced to explain the same problem over and over — you don’t need me to tell you how frustrating this experience can be! Self-service customer service portals and other technology can help, but you also need to make sure the handoff from technology to a customer service rep is smooth.
…Between all your retail channels.
Can a customer get all of your products in all of the places you sell them? Or, do they get stuck calling around? Using smart inventory management will save you — and your customers – lots of stress.
…Across all devices.
If someone visits your website on their desk top, will they be just as pleased with the experience as if they visit it on their smartphone? And vice versa?
…Across your entire web presence.
In the old days, your storefront used to stop at your front door. Now, with social media and third-party fulfillment sites like Amazon expanding your brand’s footprint, it’s more important than ever to make sure customers are getting the right experience everywhere they encounter your brand. This is key to a successful omnichannel strategy.
This is especially important on third-party vendor sites, where you may not have as much control over logistics. Choose your third-party vendors that care. If they don’t meet the same level of customer service standards you would provide on your own website, don’t dilute your brand by using them.
Optimizing for a human omnichannel strategy
How do you achieve seamless experience?
By keeping your customers in mind as you design it.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes:
- How does the experience of shopping on your website, walking into your store, and interacting with your social media compare?
- Are your values evident in every channel?
- Is your branding consistent?
- Are your features equally easy to use?
- Is the experience personalized?
- Where are the main points of friction?
- If you were a customer on someone else’s website, at what point would you have thrown up your hands and quit? (Be honest here!)
Focus groups and customer surveys are an excellent way to identify friction points — nothing beats hearing it from the horse’s mouth. But you customers are probably already speaking volumes, if you just know how to listen.
Talk to your sales team, your customer service team, and comb through your social media and customer service emails. What questions keep coming up? Keep in mind that for every person who is asking you for help with your website’s shopping cart, there are another 20 — or more — who just abandon their cart and walk away.
Do whatever it takes to address these questions.
It could be a matter of giving them more information — like updating your FAQ page, or changing your website copy. Maybe a few tweaks to your automated email will do the trick, or maybe an explainer video is in order.
It could be a technical problem that can be solved with a little help from your friendly website developing team.
Wherever the friction is, take the time now to smooth it out — and you’ll be miles ahead of your competition. Let us know what your approach is to creating a successful omnichannel marketing strategy.