The omnichannel is the future and it is what the consumer wants. Deploying an omnichannel strategy is no longer really a choice for retailers, they must adapt or disappear.
When making a purchase the consumer has requirements
Where, when and how he wants it! His motto could be “Anytime, anywhere, any device”.
If your company is not able to meet his requirements, he will look to other “early to adopt” omnichannel retailers without hesitation or to pure players.
Unified commerce platforms multiply the possibilities for facilitating consumption and give the consumer what they want. The customer jumps between the different available channels depending on:
- Their free time;
- Their place of residence;
- Their working hours.
... and therefore makes his purchase when and where he likes with whatever device he likes with great ease!
The consumer is ultra-connected, he wants to find an item quickly and have it in his hands even faster. He wants to be able to search for his item in the morning using his computer whilst drinking a coffee, finalize his order on his Smartphone during his lunch break and pick up his item in the evening when he leaves work.
This requirement of consumers for an omnichannel is a reality, you need to play catch up to improve your customer journey.
Omnichannel vs multichannel vs Cross channel
The differences to be noted between cross channel, omnichannel or multichannel:
- Multichannel: several search channels which are not interlinked. The channels are in competition with each other.
- Cross-channel: several channels may be used for one purchase journey The channels complement one another.
- Omnichannel: optimization of the different channels which will be used simultaneously. They are more than complementary, they help one another to create an even better experience for the customer.
1 - Anywhere: can order or buy a product easily
The consumer does not want to adapt to the retailers, he wants a service that can meet his needs. To be able to order whenever he wants and from whichever device of his choice is no longer enough, he also wants it delivered where he wants and when it suits him (central warehouse, stores, collection points etc.) but he can also go directly to a place of sale if the products that he wants are available right away!
It is therefore up to the retailer to put in place a real strategy for quality order management that multiplies the possibilities of delivery:
- Click and Collect;
To keep their consumers, the retailers must also rethink stock management:
- To have a unified stock or single stock for all the digital and physical points of sale;
- To breakdown the barriers between the digital and physical.
The customer does not care about the logistical constraints of retailers, he just expects them to be able to sell him a product wherever he is:
- Central warehouse;
- E-commerce stock.
For him it comes down to: can you deliver his product - yes or no? If the answer is no, you have lost a sale, maybe even a customer.
All this is only possible with Order Management System (OMS) software, which enables you to find the product quickly via management of unified stock.
This is just as true for shop purchases.
The customer has seen an item of clothing on your website and goes to one of your outlets to try it on and buy it immediately. Nasty surprise: the item is not available in the store. He has wasted his time and is preparing to leave empty handed and annoyed.
This is where seller digitalization comes into play. In connected retailing, the seller has a unique view of your stock and can help the consumer to make his purchase, but also sell them anything from the entire catalog, including stock which is not physically available in the store.
The customer can therefore order his item and have it delivered or pick it up quickly:
- Shop selling the brand;
- To his place of residence;
- Pick up point;
- To multiple addresses etc.
The sale is finalized, its a win-win solution for everyone.
In short, the channels used by the consumer during the purchase process are of little importance: the consumers journey must flow seamlessly from the moment he starts his search to the moment his purchase is made. It is up to you to remove any potential hindrance and obstacles to ensure the customer has a smooth purchase journey and better experience.
2 - Anytime: can order anytime
The consumer starts placing an order on your website using his computer. He is interrupted and continues his order later using the application installed on his smartphone. In the future the consumer will also be able to use their voice to place orders. Finally; he decides he wants to see the product with his own eyes before making the purchase so he goes to your store.
For him, the digitalized store is essential, he does not want to have to start from scratch every time he changes channel! On the contrary, regardless of how many times it takes and how many channels are used, his choices should be saved, hence the use of an omnichannel basket.
The consumer wants the product straight away. The reasons why an item can only be delivered between this or this date do not interest him. The consumer simply sees that your store is 60km away from his house and that the delivery will take one week. Whereas two months ago he placed an order from the other side of the world and got his item faster than that.
For him there is therefore no excuse, your reasons, as legitimate as they may be, will not persuade him. If your delivery times are too long, he will end up placing an order with Amazon who will deliver it to him the next day.
Yet again, no-one will adapt to your constraints, the consumer will just go where it is faster.
Seller equipment and Clienteling
Before a fluid process can be implemented, you must ensure clienteling has been set up and you have an up to date client base.
The clienteling is a strategy based on a personalized customer relationship and helps encourage customer loyalty. An effective clienteling strategy uses:
- A unique customer repository;
- Real consumer knowledge;
- A 360° overview of the customer journey.
The customer expects you to adapt to his needs which means you need to become a connected business. This means providing the sales staff in stores with the latest technology and clienteling solutions such as tablets for sales staff.
The consumer orders a sweater on your website. He adds it to the basket, then hesitates: what if it doesn’t fit? Is this color too flashy? Eventually, he decides to go to your store, which luckily is a connected store.
The consumer enters the store and is helped by a member of the sales staff. The latter is equipped with a tablet, he notices that the consumer has placed a sweater in his basket. The salesperson directs him to the item and suggests he tries on it. The consumer is satisfied, the purchase is made and he leaves with his sweater. He has not only saved time but also feels acknowledged.
3 - Any device: can order from any device
The omnichannel is indispensable for a fluid digital and physical customer journey.
The consumer searches several TVs on your website, but hesitates between several models. He goes to the map on your website and realizes there is a store 5 minutes from where he lives. He decides to go there so that he can see the products but also obtain personalized advice from a salesperson.
Once on site, the salesperson consults the customer’s profile on his tablet and has a clear picture of:
- His purchase history;
- The products viewed;
- Products added to the basket;
- His preferred products.
- The product lines searched on the web
This is essential information that allows the salesperson to meet the needs of the consumer and provide better advice. The customer can thus decide to confirm his basket he started a few hours earlier and confirm it there in the store. The salesperson can finalize a basket in progress upon authorization of the consumer using his sales application
The omnichannel customer wants to consume using, either successively or simultaneously, the different channels created by a brand:
- Computer website;
- Mobile website;
- Mobile application;
- Physical outlet store.
His purchase journey may begin and end at any one of these contact points and even include several of them. Likewise, he wants to be able to follow the status of his order and delivery from any device, in addition to a follow-up e-mail, push notification or SMS.
For an optimized omnichannel distribution and optimized omnichannel customer relationship, you will need:
- Connected tablets and a sales application;
- Unified data.
4 - Conclusion
An omnichannel customer is a loyal consumer, who buys regularly and in large quantities. He posts his appreciation on social networks. Customers no longer adapt to constraints and brand choices; if these retailers wish to survive, they have to change, adapt to the consumer and do it now!
Not only, you don’t have no longer the choice, but you also have everything to gain with omnichannel retailing:
- Increase customer satisfaction;
- Encourage customer loyalty;
- Not get left behind by the competition;
- Increase sales and your average customer basket value.
The three main points to remember:
- Omnichannel marketing is driven by consumers.
- Managing stock using an omnichannel strategy allows you to improve efficiency and satisfy consumer requests.
- Brands that do not invest in an omnichannel strategy logistic have everything to lose.