NOTE: This blog is the second part of our three-part series on the Omnichannel Approach to Retail Marketing.
In our previous blog, we discussed why retailers have to consider taking an omnichannel approach to retail marketing seriously. We also explained in detail why merely having an online presence will not work. The secret sauce of success is to allow customers to move from one channel to another seamlessly.
In this blog, we'll delve further into how you can bridge the gap between offline and online channels. As this will help you in creating a seamless experience for your customers. In this blog, we will cover:
- On-point retail marketing can offer an immersive experience
- Channels most useful when creating an omnichannel experience
- Connecting the channels seamlessly for a better experience
Let’s explore in detail.
#1 - On-point retail marketing can offer an immersive experience
In a hyper-connected world that we live in, we constantly come across new channels and screens. It is almost tempting to try all of them to maximize reach and awareness. However, this might not be an ideal solution. The purpose of going omnichannel is to be where your target customers go. The channels will be different for different customers. For example, your target customer within the age group of 45 to 64 might be influenced by the endorsement from a celebrity or a known personality. An individual within the age of 16 to 24 may not find it appealing. They would rather trust a friend’s recommendation than an influencer. Sometimes your target customers will research products online before buying it at the store. Hence, choose channels based on what your target customer uses. One way to find out the best performing channel is by talking to your shoppers about their preferences. Spend time to understand which channels your target customers use the most.
Once you identify the best performing channels, find out ways to integrate them to create a unique experience. For example, you can use geo-location to inform your target customers about your retail shop if they are close to your location. As soon as they enter your shop, they can use the in-store Wi-Fi to research the product online before purchasing. The objective is to ensure a smooth transition between every stage of the customer journey.
Let’s take an example of Aldo – a Canadian retailer.
They provide the best customer experience, no matter what channel the customer uses. They show inventory available in each store. Customers can favorite the product and get it directly from the store. They can also add the product in the cart and visit the store to try it once before purchasing. Aldo generated 15% of more revenue from e-commerce and 10% from online purchases using this strategy.
#2 - Channels most useful when creating an omnichannel experience
Here are a few common channels that you can use to create an omnichannel experience.
E-commerce websites like Amazon or Warby Parker that sells eyewear online have opened physical shops. In fact, in 2017, brick and mortar shops got 85% of all sales. Hence, you cannot ignore the potential of offline channels. Here are some commonly used channels for offline marketing.
- Geo-location: You can use geo-location to alert customers about your store in proximity. Walmart and Target, for instance, use geo-location to inform customers about the nearest stores in their area. It can also be used when your target customer is close to your competitor’s shop. You can offer discounts, promo codes, and other benefits to get them to your store. Geo-location marketing is cost-effective and can boost in-store traffic and improve brand awareness. Almost 9 in 10 marketers have confirmed that it has increased their sales and resulted in 84% higher customer engagement.
- In-app activity: It is the future of retail marketing. Nearly 51% of customers use retail mobile apps to shop in-store. The secret recipe is to make it a seamless part of the customer’s shopping experience. Take Walmart’s example again. The retail giant has a retail app that helps customers to plan their shopping trips, check prices in-store, and scan the barcode to get the price. Similarly, Sephora offers customers with product reviews, beauty tips as they found customers checking for online reviews in the store before purchasing. Making in-app activity a part of your retail store will help you to improve customer experience and retain loyal customers.
So, you know customers research your products before buying. Why not strengthen your online marketing channels rather than just treating it as one part of the omnichannel marketing mix?
Here’s what you can do.
- Website: Retail marketers often forget that websites can also be retail shops. Find ways to attract your target customers to your website. You can add them to your email subscription list to inform them of new deals and sales via emails, or you can send personalized notifications and messages to encourage them to shop from your website. No matter how you choose to attract traffic, ensure that the website offers a good experience to your customers. It must be SEO-friendly, load quickly, and must be easy to use.
- In-app store: People love convenience. You can convert your mobile app into an online store, so customers can place orders from the app itself. From viewing new products to making payments, your app must offer the same experience as your retail shops.
- Social media: Over 3.5 billion people actively use social media. So, you cannot exclude it from your marketing strategy. 91% of customers visit an app or a website through social media. Instagram stories and Facebook’s campaign planning can help you to attract, engage, and convert customers. Facebook also offers remarketing to re-engage with customers. You can also set up a store on Facebook and Instagram to enable direct purchases. The idea is to make shopping convenient for customers.
#3 - Connecting the channels seamlessly for a better experience
- To begin with, the integration efforts find the gaps between your offline and online channels and plug them. Ensure that the customer can purchase from all touchpoints they want – be it a store or through social media. Nordstrom, for instance, offers various ways to make a purchase. They can buy online and pick up from the store or add it to the cart and try in the store before purchasing. The key is to make the purchasing experience as convenient as possible.
- Ensure that the customer’s data flow between the channels seamlessly. For example, if your customer has added an item to the cart to pick it up later at a store, then that data must be available with the store immediately.
- Ensure that your communication with customers supports both offline and online channels. For example, you can ask customers for their contact details for future communications and use those to alert them about in-store sales and discounts.
- Keep measuring the effectiveness of each of these channels to ensure that they contribute to the overall experience. You can set KPIs to set benchmarks against which you can measure success.
We hope these tips will help you to get started with integrating your offline and online channels. In our next blog, we will take through some real-life examples, so you can get inspired and create winning a Omnichannel retail marketing strategy.