omnichannel
Customer Service

Are You Prepared to Deliver a True Omnichannel Experience?

While omnichannel retailing is still a relatively new concept, businesses large and small are rushing to jump on the bandwagon. Multichannel and online retailers are identifying creative ways to boost their online, mobile and physical storefronts, and better connect with their customers. It is clear this increased interest is well placed, given the potential for increased revenue. Accenture’s 2013 Seamless Retail Study offers further support; 89% of shoppers said it is important for retailers to allow them to shop using the sales channel that is most convenient for them. Omnichannel fulfills that promise.

However, retailers are finding that connecting physical and virtual experiences is easier said than done. Many businesses that follow trends and want to stay competitive have begun to implement omnichannel strategies, but without the know-how, they achieve less then desirable results. Much of their struggles can be attributed to a lack of readiness, proper technology framework, and more importantly, not enough focus on the customer.

When developing an omnichannel strategy, retailers should follow these critical steps to ensure a return worth celebrating.

Establish personalization as a corporate culture

Like with any corporate shift, the first step toward establishing personalization as a corporate culture is C-suite buy-in. Executive-level sponsorship ensures task ownership, guides initiatives and drives the alignment of the people, processes and technologies needed to create customer-centric organization. Personalization is the glue that binds together all platforms within an omnichannel environment. Without it, disparate channel strategies lack the cohesion that enables them to work together to offer a retailer valuable data on its shoppers. While a brand or retailer can have personalization without being omnichannel, they really can’t promote being omnichannel without personalization.

As such, all facets of a business must understand the role and importance of delivering a personalized experience. The ability to target customers within specific channels was a great start a few years ago. But now all channels must connect – and move beyond to include social networks, and even in-store displays, and interactive television – essentially the entire customer experience to reap the benefits of true omnichannel personalization. When led by personalization strategies that better engage shoppers based on their individual behavior, the result is both a successful retailer and a happy customer. And further, increasing brand loyalty and a deeper connection between a retailer and its customers.

Today, technology exists that enables continuous profiling of vast amounts of consumer behavior in real-time, compilation and analysis of that data  to make it actionable and the ability for a retailer to quickly make changes to optimize targeting of each individual. And so for the first time, a true, 1:1 personalized customer experience, across all touchpoints is possible.

Focus on mobile

Until recently, most retailers placed mobile tertiary to web and telephone customer service. But research has shown this is unwise; 43% of smart phone users have used their phone to make a purchase in the last 30 days, according to consumer analytics research firm Parks Associates.

The most competitive brands recognize the role mobile plays in capitalizing on the modern shopper. Retailers must move beyond just optimizing their websites for mobile viewing. More and more consumers are engaging with brands everyday via mobile from what they’re browsing, their location, weather, time of day and so on - 59% interact with businesses on social media alone. Which provides retailers with a well of information for their omnichannel strategies.

Therefore, effective engagement methods and ease for transactions are top priorities for mobile success. In-store, retailers should offer mobile self-service capabilities, tools for checkout via smart phone, or arm staff with tablets to improve customer service.  

Ensure a smooth interaction between channels

With secure integration of in-store, web, mobile and call center technology systems, businesses can begin to take advantage of omnichannel personalization and start creating meaningful and seamless experiences for their customers

And time is of the essence. Currently, 56% of online shoppers are more likely to return to e-retailers that offer a personalized experience. Gartner recently predicted that by 2015, businesses without an omnichannel strategy will lose 15 -20% of their best customers to competitors.

Evaluate your data-capturing technology

The crown jewel of any omnichannel strategy is interoperability. Today’s consumer may find a product on a desktop, reaffirm interest at the local store and accept an offer for a discount via smartphone. All of this is done before a purchase is even made and provides businesses with a treasure trove of data.

The key to unlocking this data is an integrated and scalable technology infrastructure capable of collecting and analyzing information from multiple touchpoints, to make such data useful. To help build a solid data foundation, retailers should conduct a complete audit of all commerce, business intelligence and customer-facing systems to identify and remedy weak points.

The state of the omnichannel retail continues to evolve as innovative businesses identify new tools to engage and capture customers. Retailers with the highest level of omnichannel readiness will excel by coordinating their technologies, services and processes in a centralized manner. These retailers demonstrate to customers their devotion to offering a seamless, personalized experience regardless of channel and are poised to benefit greatly from their omnichannel initiatives.

 

Meyar Sheik, CEO of Certona

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Meyar Sheik

Meyar Sheik, CEO of Certona

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