Focus on the customer
The customer is king - an old proverb confronts companies in our digital world with ever new challenges. After all, selling products through just one channel was yesterday. Today, the consumer should be served as far as possible across all channels - offline and online. Ideally, this leads to a consistently positive buying experience and customer satisfaction from the first contact to the point of sales and beyond.
Multiple Channels - Different Strategies
Companies face the challenges of the market in different ways. While some companies focus on a single channel, others take the path of multiple channels. "How" is an essential question for corporate management. For example, companies can optimize each individual channel on its own without taking a closer look at the interaction between the channels. This falls under the multichannel approach. For some of these companies, the next step is to reconcile the different channels or to take this approach from the very beginning, which we will discuss below: omnichannel.
Taking a closer look at Omnichannel
Who connects a store, a smartphone, a tablet and a laptop in a single purchase process? The customer. omnichannel marketing connects all the channels of the retail trade with each other, so that the buyer is always picked up exactly where he is. This means that the same information and services or offers must be made available at all touch points. Customers who inform themselves on one touchpoint should be picked up on all other possible touchpoints from where they left the previous touchpoint. This ensures a seamless transition between one channel and the other.
Examples - Present and Future Melody
One of the most common services offered by a retailer is the purchase via an online shop and the collection of the goods from the shop. In this way, for example, a clothing try-on can be carried out in the store and the return can be handled directly on the spot. This service is also called BOPIS (Buy Online - Pick Up In Store). An even less used concept is the identification via so-called beacons in the store. Customers who can be identified digitally can be identified in this way by the staff on site in the shop and can therefore be advised better.
A consultant is informed about items on the wish list or in the shopping cart from the online shop when the customer enters the shop. The identification is carried out via an app on the smartphone and concrete advice on the articles can be offered proactively. This would make it possible to implement concepts such as the recovery of shopping cart dropouts across channels in line with the omnichannel idea.
Terms related to Omnichannel
In the context of the omnichannel, many terms are used in different forms. Some terms are important for the rest of the article and are therefore briefly explained with their meaning for this article:
Any contact that the interested party/customer has with a product or company. This also refers to information about the product or company.
Chain of links, starting from the creation of a product or information about a product to the contact with the prospective customer/client.
The aggregated perception at all contact points across all channels related to the purchase of a product.
All interactions between a customer and a company over different purchases and thus over the buying experience. A customer lifecycle therefore contains one or more purchase experiences. The AFCIC model is used for the analysis, which stands for an extended AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action).
I: Intent to Purchase
Omnichannel Marketing: Goals and Strategies
The aim of an omnichannel strategy is to make the customer lifecycle with its different purchasing experiences a truly positive experience. The aim is to offer a seamless shopping experience - without the consumer having to decide which channel to use and how. In doing so, the boundaries of the different contact points should merge into an overall experience that is as consistent as possible. This overall experience has a corresponding effect on the perception of the company and brand. In times in which it is so easy for customers to change suppliers due to the enormous development of possibilities, the importance of the company to focus on the buyer and his needs increases.
From Stationary to Multichannel to Omnichannel
The goal is the continuous further development towards a positive overall experience in the purchase and information process and thus long-term customer loyalty. The more present a company is or wants to be on several channels, the more the development from individual channels such as stationary business via the multichannel approach to an omnichannel approach comes to the fore. The boundaries between different touchpoints are disappearing. This applies to touchpoints with sales opportunities and corresponding follow-up processes such as returns management as well as touchpoints with exclusive information opportunities. An essential aspect of today's possibilities in obtaining information for customers is channel independence in retail.
Learning to Understand the World of the Customer
Omnichannel is a conceptual approach to get involved with the perception of the customer. The competition, which is evolving in this area, but also the customers, who are getting used to the corresponding services and offers, are essential drivers.
Negative examples of not yet successful omnichannel appearances are not hard to find. If the channel permeability is not given and, for example, return processes do not run channel-independently, this is not comprehensible to the customer.
In addition, it is a central factor to keep an eye on the difference between an online and an offline price. Non-functioning processes in a Click&Collect offer are not comprehensible from the customer's point of view and the risk of a merchant / supplier change is correspondingly high.
The most important services for a customer based on a survey by Statista:
(Return) shipping free of charge
Uniform price: Online/Offline
Exchange of goods ordered online in the store
Online reference to availability in stores
Possibility of setting up a reminder
Online availability check
Contact on Website
Online Reservation at the Store
Product information available online
Ensuring appropriate quality in both online and stationary trade, which offers the customer added value, is not something that happens overnight. Sales channels must be viewed holistically and linked together to ensure a successful customer experience. The evaluation and processing of customer data to gain a better understanding of the relevant target group is also a time-consuming, but with the right omnichannel concept, it is an efficient issue.
Conclusion and Recommendations
If you want to be successful as a retailer in this area, you should pay attention to a consistent but also sustainable experience of the customer, both when searching for information and in sales. To achieve this, the boundaries between sales and marketing channels must disappear and be integrated into each other, so that channel changes from stationary to online take place smoothly from the customer's perspective.
Due to increasing competition and the volatile nature of customers, retailers must create an information and shopping experience independent of the touchpoint as a result of the growing possibilities. The challenges are manifold and must be approached carefully:
Reduction of channel boundaries
Consideration of the organization, as this is a change in the company
Careful consideration of the system landscape in order to be able to implement the change systemically
Our recommendation is to face the challenges in a structured way. We support this with our established process model.
We recommend that the following topics be considered in initial workshops:
Business model and customer structures
Offers to the end customer
Core processes for commerce, customers, products and services
On this basis, solution scenarios are developed together, which are then put into agile implementation in form of a program.
We would be happy to develop an individual package with you based on your requirements to make not only the customers but also yourself happy - for long-term and positive customer loyalty and satisfaction!
Contact for your Digital Solution with Unic
Are you keen too discuss your digital tasks with us? We would be happy to exchange ideas with you: Jörg Nölke and Gerrit Taaks (from left to right).
More competences in e-commerce
Together we individualise your digital commerce. From the conception to the realisation of your customer experience solutions (CX); including customer-specific portals (customer login).