Retailers should waste no time in preparing for this year’s holiday shopping season. Before you know it, consumers will begin searching for the fastest, most convenient way to snag every last item on their holiday wish list. From an e-commerce website to traditional brick-and-mortar stores, offering more than one purchasing channel is an important first step, but it may not be enough to stand out from the competition.
By implementing an omnichannel strategy that enables data to be shared across all channels, retailers can cater to the needs and preferences of each individual shopper.
Not sure how to get started? Follow these three tips to develop an omnichannel strategy that will increase customer engagement and loyalty — not to mention sales — during the upcoming holiday season and beyond:
1. Improve the shopping experience. The more convenient a consumer’s shopping experience is, the better chance you have of building loyalty and driving sales. Stay on the lookout for solutions to problems that shoppers regularly encounter. Big brands such as J.C. Penney are already developing omnichannel options geared toward a more personalized shopping experience. Earlier this year, the department store unveiled a three-year plan that focuses on the creation of new omnichannel offerings, including in-store pickup within four hours of a purchase. By catering to the needs of on-the-go holiday shoppers, such solutions open the door for long-lasting relationships.
Stark competition around the holiday shopping season makes hassle-free options such as curbside pickup or same-day delivery that much more important. From limited-time offers to exclusive promotions, retailers are often willing to go above and beyond to win over holiday shoppers.
2. Implement technology. When it comes to providing consumers with a quick and efficient shopping experience, a little technology can go a long way. Retailers like Apple and Nordstrom haven’t been shy about using technology to more closely target consumer preferences.
Bloomingdale's, a pioneer in smart technology implementation, installed iPads in each of its fitting rooms. Since the iPads allow for quick and easy searches of the retailer’s inventory management system, sales associates have the luxury of checking for specific colors and sizes without heading to the back of the store. Better yet, shoppers can look up reviews or even check out, saving valuable time that would have otherwise been spent waiting in line at the cash register.
For retailers, the personal touch of a sales associate combined with the convenience of online shopping makes for an experience that can be customized to meet the needs of any holiday shopper. Keep an eye out for similar ways you can leverage technology to create an enjoyable shopping experience.
3. Gather support. From part-time staff to the CEO, proper execution of an omnichannel strategy requires the understanding and commitment of every employee at your company. Take the time to explain why an omnichannel strategy is the right choice before mapping it out. Not only will companywide support make for a smoother transition, but it will also curb problems down the road.
Once everyone is on board, the next step is developing a plan that will enable your company to ramp up its omnichannel efforts in time for the holiday shopping season. Getting started sooner rather than later will give you the chance to work out any kinks and make steady improvements, ensuring you’re prepared for the busiest time of the year.
With November and December quickly approaching, now is the time to begin implementing an omnichannel strategy you can count on once the shopping rush hits your stores. While it may be tempting to roll out each part of your plan all at once, remember to give employees extra time to digest new changes in case any problems arise. And even if your omnichannel strategy isn’t quite ready for this year’s holiday shopping season, researching your customers’ pain points and mapping out your strategy will go a long way toward ensuring your omnichannel investment pays off for years to come.
Bobbi Leach is the CEO of FuturePay, an e-commerce payment solution for the omnichannel shopper.
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