Omnichannel marketing is the buzzword doing the rounds in the retail industry today. Marketing is undergoing massive changes thanks to the ever-evolving mindset of the modern consumer. Today the customer is driven by the 4Cs- convenience, comfort, customization and credibility. These four aspects are at the core of the present-day customer buying behavior. So, for businesses the focus is on delivering personalized experiences to customers who have a myriad of options open before them. If brand A cannot live up to their expectations, they will not hesitate to move to Brand B, C, or D.
So where does omnichannel marketing fit into this realm of a new retail battlefield?
Omni Channel marketing refers to a unified brand experience for consumers irrespective of the device or channel they use to interact with the brand. Nearly 50% online customers switch four channels for buying products and services.
Modern consumers browse products on their computers, explore mobile apps mostly when on the go, switch between tablets and laptops according to convenience and visit the physical store to try before buying. During this customer journey, if customers feel jilted by one channel, they will immediately discard that company from their interest list and move on. Not just that, they will even slam the brand with negative reviews that will have an impact on other buyers as well. According to a finding by Adweek2, 61 percent, online customers read product reviews before making any purchase.
Orchestrating a well-balanced omnichannel strategy is crucial for the success of the business through customer retention. A utopic omnichannel approach lies in the seamless design and delivery of consistent service levels across all channels involved in a customer journey. Executing this requires relentless coordination, empathy towards customer pain points, investment in technology and manpower, and most importantly time. But once the holistic vision to deliver omnichannel experience is implemented, it is worth the challenges. In a survey by Oracle3, retailers said that omnichannel strategies delivered valuable results for their business with a 66% improvement in customer loyalty.
How is omnichannel different from multichannel
With the advent of e-commerce, marketers realized that customers were using one primary channel to engage with the brand, either a brick-mortar store or the web. So they formed separate processes to manage each of these channels, isolated from one another. The perception of the online store was different from the offline store.
For example, one of the jewelry brands of India has online store but does not give as many options to customers as the physical store. Therefore, customer footfall in the physical shop leads to more conversions than the web. But there has been a shift in buying behavior, and customers no more prefer just one channel. Today it is about the overall feel of the brand, irrespective of the channel a customer chooses. So if customers don’t feel valued at the online store, they will not shop from the brand through other channels. This is where the omnichannel approach gives a winning edge to brands.
These are two ideologically different marketing approaches, though; both use more than one channel for their retail business. Marketers have to adapt to the customer-centric omnichannel strategy to adjust to the mindset of the new age consumers and leverage this to increase customer retention and revenue.
What are the difficulties one faces in creating a single seamless experience?
Keeping up with the heightened expectations of the customers in the omnichannel age is not an easy job. When McKinsey/Periscope researchers surveyed the participants at April’s World Retail Congress 20163, 45% retail executives expressed that their omnichannel efforts were not advancing fast enough despite investing heavily on technology, processes, and people.
Consumer data management is a crucial challenge here. Handling confidential customer data across multiple channels and touchpoints is susceptible to data leakage and fraud. Fake social media profile, fake bot data, and ad tech frauds are serious concerns impacting omnichannel execution across industries. Tracking customer journey is another challenge when businesses are habituated to working in silos. If you wish to map customer journeys successfully, it is important to share useful data, insights and feedback across channels. This sharing will enable channels to interact with one another and work towards a common goal – to deliver a truly unique customer experience, irrespective of the channel the customer uses for buying.
3 Ways to orchestrate omnichannel marketing for retail growth
Understand your customers with data:
Data rules the digital marketplace. So gather data about your customers from different channels such as email, social media, in-store, web, and geographical location. Decode your customer’s digital behavior to understand their needs better. Figure out channels preferences for various scenarios and draw up a channel use graph for different customer profiles. Standardize this data so that your CX strategy can make use of it and deliver relevant information and personalized experience to your customers.
Act on customer feedback:
Omnichannel marketing cannot be perfected in a day. Analyzing customer feedback and drawing relevant insights from the feedback data are essential steps in strategizing your brand’s customer engagement. Such data can be obtained from online surveys, click through rates, shopping cart abandonment rates, and similar marketing campaign results. Analyze which channel contributes to better engagement and higher conversions and where do the other channels falter.
Create brand advocates:
As high as 74% of consumers are influenced by ‘word of mouth’ while making purchasing decisions. According to USM5, 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by peer reviews when deciding about purchase orders and 61% of IT buyers give maximum weight to colleague recommendations.
Therefore, it becomes imperative to create brand advocates by delivering exemplary customer experiences to existing buyers through an omnichannel marketing strategy.