The way customers shop has evolved in the span of a few years. Everything used to be simple earlier- Customer walks into a store, finds what he wants and makes the purchase. But now, things aren’t that simple or easy. Now, they have more than a few options/channels to choose from. While it does make the buying process a lot easier, it means more work for the retailer who now has to ensure the customer’s experience across the various channels remains seamless. This forms the crux of Omnichannel marketing.
What is Omnichannel marketing?
The need to deliver a seamless shopping experience for customers across various channels has given rise to Omnichannel marketing strategies. Customers can now interact with companies in physical stores, on their mobiles or desktops, through social media or even merely by sending an email. The customer’s interaction through each channel has to be consistent and continuous. He can start his buying process on one channel and shift to another. A sound omnichannel marketing strategy will ensure this shift is smooth and seamless.
A few Omnichannel marketing examples
Here are a few ways Omnichannel marketing typically works:
- Your customer decides to purchase a T-shirt and browses your online store. He comes across one he likes and adds it to his cart. But for some reason, he abandons the purchase and eventually forgets about the T-shirt. One day he walks into your physical store to get something for his family. A small text message reminding him of his abandoned T-shirt might trigger him to make a purchase right away. Here, the customer’s transition from online to a physical store was handled correctly through omnichannel marketing to maximize his chances of making a purchase.
- You’re having a conversation with someone on a social media site, and you come to know he is looking for a product that you have in your store. This is an excellent opportunity to lure him in since all you need to do is give him a personalized offer to visit your shop and make the purchase.
- Imagine your customer bought a shirt from your physical store last week. You can use this data to send him a personalized email. Say, you suggest pants that’ll go along well with his shirt. Chances are, he’ll at least consider trying it out.
These are a few ways that omnichannel marketing integrates the online and offline worlds to deliver excellent customer experience.
Omnichannel marketing vs. multi-channel
Omnichannel marketing and Multi-channel marketing are often thought to mean the same. But there is a sharp difference between the two. Although both involve trying to sell products across different channels, the difference lies in how the customer experiences each channel.
A Multi-channel retailer might have a physical store, an online website store or an app. Each channel works independently with little or no interconnection. That is, each channel might have different products for sale, different separate inventory and stock and even different themes.
On the other hand, Omnichannel marketing ties all the channels together to deliver a seamless and continuous shopping experience for the customer. All the channels will have uniform products, inventory and theme thus making it easy for the customer to switch from one channel to the other seem effortless. For example, the customer can view and compare the products and prices online while checking it out in-store. An omnichannel approach gives the customer more clarity, more choices, and more fluid experience.
Why is Omnichannel marketing essential?
Slowly but surely, the rise of e-commerce will probably push brick and mortar stores to the back seat. But there is still time for that. Despite the popularity of online shopping, only 8-10% of retail sales happen online. The remaining 90% occurs through physical stores only. Make no mistake though, this will change in a few years. Smart retailers have figured out that the only way to stay ahead is to switch to an omnichannel marketing approach.
Consumers these days are more demanding than ever before. And the plethora of options they have( mobiles, laptops, desktops, emails) to research and make purchases doesn’t exactly help subdue their ego. Smarter phones mean smarter customers. Almost always, consumers usually begin their buying journey on one channel and end up in another. They expect the transition across channels to be fluid and continuous and also expect uniformity. Customers increasingly expect not just a great product but also a wonderful shopping experience.
That is exactly why an omnichannel marketing strategy is essential. An omnichannel strategy can help you tie together the various channels to make the shopping experience likable regardless of the combination of channels the consumer uses.
Pros and cons of Omnichannel marketing
Omnichannel marketing is the way forward for retailers. But don’t jump in just yet. Not every retailer is suited for Omnichannel. Here are the pros and cons of omnichannel marketing to consider before you decide you want to go omnichannel.
Pros of Omnichannel marketing:
- Access to more customers: Omnichannel retailers have access to more customers both in-store and online. More customers mean higher chances of a sale.
- Delighted and loyal customers: By engaging with customers regularly you build a strong relationship with them. By providing a wonderful shopping experience through omnichannel strategies you delight your customers, so they come back for more, in other words, you build customer loyalty.
- Increase retention and reduce drop-offs: Omnichannel marketing can help increase customer retention and reduce drop-offs by sending personalized messages/emails to the right person at the right time.
Cons of Omnichannel marketing:
- Need for a dedicated team: Omnichannel marketing means customers would interact with your brand at any stage through any channel. This calls for a dedicated team of employees who can monitor communications in all channels and respond quickly to customers.
- Need for software: Omnichannel marketing can be managed properly only with the help of software. You’ll need to spend money for this purpose.
Omnichannel marketing aims to shift the focus away from the product and towards the customer. It is all about delighting the consumer in every possible way. A few of which include engaging with customers on social media, through personalized emails and text messages, etc. It involves understanding that the customer can begin his purchase process in one channel and move to another anytime. More importantly, it requires you to understand the nature of the customer and anticipate what he would need.