Cross-Channel Marketing: Respect the Shopper!
The advent of new technologies has forever changed the way consumers shop. Today, consumers routinely research, purchase, ship and return products across all channels. They're using mobile devices, phones, websites, email, stores and catalogs in whichever combination is the most convenient for them. As shoppers shift between channels, they seek a consistent and transparent experience. They want to be able to research a product online, then buy that product at the same price in-store; or easily return an online purchase at their local mall.
However, today's cross-channel experiences for consumers are far from seamless. Consumers frequently experience dissonance in the shopping experience caused by inconsistent pricing and policies, as well as choppy transitions from one channel to another. These failures in customer "handoffs" — when customers migrate from channel to channel — cost businesses billions in potential sales every year, both in the U.S. and Europe.
To maximize sales within a cross-channel shopping environment, retailers need to respect consumers' unique shopping habits and flexibly work with them in whichever channel they choose. Here's a five-step approach to driving more sales and deeper loyalty with today's cross-channel shoppers:
1. Understand customer shopping preferences.
To accommodate the increasing variety of consumer behaviors, retailers must constantly evaluate the big picture and ensure that data is being shared across organizational silos. Home Depot, for example, matches its in-store and online customer purchasing databases to compare the two segments of multichannel shoppers and determine the right strategy to serve them.
2. Sync prices,
products and promos across channels.
While it may not always be possible to match prices and/or product availability across channels, retailers should be aware of disconnects and set consumer expectations accordingly by communicating issues up front. Wal-Mart does this by alerting shoppers that in-store prices may differ from its e-commerce site, while Kohl's offers shoppers an in-store kiosk where they can arrange to have out-of-stock items shipped to their homes.