With the dawn of digital retail age, over the last decade, the customer journey has drastically evolved. A brand’s overall image, social media presence and speed of delivery are taking precedence over the simple need to just touch and try on a product prior to purchasing it. Today’s millennials still go to the traditional brick and mortar stores but with a completely different purpose in mind. They are driven by an insatiable need to compare prices and products while scrutinising reviews and consulting social media before making a purchase. In addition, they want products and services fast. And they want it yesterday. Which is why companies like Amazon although strong in the departments of selection, price and simplicity in the shopping experience, lose customers every day.
What is Omnichannel retail strategy?
Omnichannel is a multichannel service experience brands adopt when marketing and selling to customers. Regardless of whether consumers are shopping from their mobile devices, computers, over their phones or in traditional stores, omnichannel retailing provides them with a streamlined and comprehensive customer experience that works immediately and effectively. It is an amalgamation of physical and online commerce, also referred to as e-tailing and there is a seamless blending of lines of promotion, communication and distribution on the back end to facilitate a smooth and fast flow of information and products to the consumers. For example, a customer can shop for a product on a computer to check stock on the company’s website and subsequently purchase the product on a tablet or smartphone and pick up the physical product at a selected location. So, how do companies better their delivery to impatient millennials?
The Best Buy Example
In 2012, Best Buy, the consumer electronics retailer, lost a staggering $1.2 billion in sales. So they decided to remodel their archaic online store by decreasing the number of clicks required to purchase a product, adding in an option for customers to buy online and pick up from the retail stores and sharing inventories between online and traditional stores to provide a continuous and accurate flow of information to consumers. In order to further build its customer satisfaction levels and compete with online behemoths like Amazon, the retailer also introduced a price match guarantee and increased the speed of its product delivery services. In May 2018, the fruits of its labour were realised when ZDNet credited Best Buy’s 7.1% growth in sales, its highest since 2005, to its brilliant omnichannel strategy.
Globally, there is a growing trend of consumer shifting between online and offline research prior to purchasing products and services. In 2016, Deloitte conducted a study of how the digital experience affects consumer behaviour and found that 56 cents of every dollar spent in physical stores were influenced by online factors.
The key to a streamlined omnichannel experience is modern supply chain management, one that encompasses a strong online presence such as a dynamic website, mobile app and social media and integrates it with their retail experience. Organisations must stop operating traditional stores and their online market place as two separate entities, as Best Buy did, so that product responsibilities and delivery and new technologies such as inventory management systems cohesively work together to increase engagement levels and conversion rates.
Chatbots, which are artificial intelligence (AI) computer programs, is another emerging omnichannel trend on the rise. Over the last couple of years, chatbots can better humanise their customer interactions by replying to consumer queries, asking questions, changing passwords and even deal with more complex situations such as assessing the mood of a customer calling customer service. By attending to customer queries efficiently, companies can ensure that their consumer needs are met as quickly as possible.
In the U.S., >according to several surveys conducted, about 31.04% millennials (age group 22 to 37 years) are purchasing products and services in traditional retail stores, while only 9.6% of Gen Z (age group 18 to 21 years) do so. If these figures are any indicator, it proves that the shifting trend of buyers shopping online is fast on the increase, especially with regards to younger generations.
E-commerce retailing has revolutionised the way organisations do business and is fast becoming imperative if companies want to climb that ladder of success. Yes, some consumers may be slow to embrace e-commerce because of privacy issues and unfamiliarity with brands, but that is where companies can employ efficient e-commerce marketing trends across several different social media platforms to create awareness, usher in more traffic to their virtual doorstep, increase conversion rates and ultimately build brand loyalty.
And when companies embrace an omnichannel retail strategy, they create a seamless customer experience. So irrespective of whether customers shop in stores, catalogues, on T.V. or online, businesses will be able to efficiently cater through all shopping channels, deliver quicker to customers and positively enhance their consumer experience, thereby growing their user base and increasing their return on investment.