The Omnichannel Experience: Small Changes That Yield Big Results
By now, it’s more than obvious that focusing on a single channel is not a long-term, sustainable business model. Even while storefronts are struggling, the organizations that master how to create a seamless experience for customers using in-store, online and mobile strategies are poised for growth.
A recent study from Harvard Business Review looked at the effects of omnichannel retailing on 46,000 people. Not only did the results show that omnichannel customers spend more, but it also showed that those who do online research end up spending 13 percent more in-store.
However, we all know that creating an omnichannel experience is easier said than done. It also can be costly as you try to piece together your web experience with your mobile experience, and align both with your in-store journey.
Luckily, there are a few simple changes retailers can make to their existing customer journey that can have a big impact on their overall omnichannel strategy.
Simplify the Online Checkout Path
We live in an age of convenience, which means that people want what they want when they want it, and they want it as easily as possible. While you may have gotten your in-store checkout experience down to a science, the same probably isn’t true for your online checkout experience.
However, research has shown that having a difficult or frustrating checkout experience is one of the main reasons why you may be seeing less-than-satisfactory conversion rates. In a 2016 Baymard study looking at why 69 percent of all e-commerce visitors abandon their shopping carts, researchers found that one in four shoppers have abandoned their purchases due to a “too long/complicated checkout process.”
There’s a simple solution for this: Listen to your customers. Whether by conducting a simple online survey in exchange for a discount code or providing an in-store offer if they answer a few questions, you can collect feedback on what frustrates your customers most about your checkout process. Then, use their feedback to evaluate where you can remove some of the frustrations. This can be something as simple as creating a guest checkout experience so they don’t have to create an account, or creating lightboxes that don’t reroute away from the checkout page when asking for coupon codes or other information.
When you have a simplified process in place online, you’ll notice happier customers that have one less reason to step away from their purchase.
Create Offers That Are Redeemable From Channel to Channel
Bargain hunting is a staple customer shopping behavior, playing on our innate need to feel we're getting the best deal possible. Results from an online survey conducted by Synquera found that 86 percent of shoppers report often buying products retailers have on promotion, and 93 percent say they’re loyal to stores that have sales on products they frequently purchase.
As the market gets more and more competitive and consumers have access to endless resources to search for the best prices on their favorite products, the best decision you can make to capitalize on bargain-hunting consumers is to create offers that can be redeemed across multiple channels.
For example, if you’re offering a 30 percent off discount in-store, make sure that that same offer is available online and via your mobile site/app. Have customers bring their mobile device to easily redeem the coupon in brick-and-mortar stores, or send a special offer to their mobile devices after an in-store experience that they can redeem online.
The more options you give customers on the channels they use to shop every day, the better chance you have of getting them to make a purchase.
Use the Data You Have to Personalize Your Messaging
At some point in the shopping process, you're collecting important information about your customers that you can use to better speak to their needs and interests. For example, if you’ve created a loyalty program, you may find out through the registration process that a segment of customers is current or former military, or you may find that some of your in-store customers have never visited your website. Each of these customers can and should be marketed to in a different way.
Personalization is now a key factor of the omnichannel process, which means that the more you can understand about your customers, the better. One simple way to do this is to have your marketing team sit down and assess your communications in every channel. If you have teams dedicated to your e-commerce site, while others are focused on your in-store experience, get them together to evaluate how your messaging is tailored to each channel. Is it all the same? Is it specific to certain customers?
Once you get everyone on the same page, dig down into the data to see how you can segment certain customer groups or characteristics in buying behaviors. Use that information to create a customized, but consistent, message for your customers on every channel they use along their shopping journey.
Both of these simple changes are fairly quick and inexpensive. Whether it's a small, medium or large business looking to improve cross-channel strategies, making these small tweaks can ultimately bring your company big returns.
Jake Weatherly is the CEO of SheerID, an eligibility verification services company.
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