How Brands Can Create Winning Omnichannel Experiences
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a diverse range of trends were beginning to reshape the economic landscape, with the steady rise of remote work, telehealth, and e-commerce upending old business models. With the arrival of the novel coronavirus, however, changes that had been unfolding more gradually have now been dramatically accelerated. To stay relevant in an era of social distancing and rapid digitization, industries spanning the gamut have moved swiftly to evolve, innovate and enhance their digital capabilities.
That holds especially true for retailers. To truly stand out in this new landscape, savvy retailers know that it’s essential to offer winning omnichannel experiences, engaging customers digitally to create a cohesive experience across multiple points.
Today’s shoppers are interacting with retailers at multiple entry points — mobile apps, websites, brick-and-mortar locations, and more — and by strengthening each entry point, retailers can boost the chances a shopper will actually convert.
Consider that 80 percent of consumers report using their mobile phones inside a brick-and-mortar store to look up product information or find alternative stores. While every retailer is now competing with Amazon.com, omnichannel retailers’ fusion of physical and digital can help set them apart.
So how can brands successfully craft effective omnichannel strategies?
Start From the Ground Up
For any omnichannel strategy to work, it can’t be siloed. Only by integrating the strategy into the entire organization can it succeed.
That requires equipping employees in a wide variety of roles — sales, marketing, customer support, product management — with the tools they need to do their part to enable smooth customer experiences across channels. For example, with robust data on customer behavior, customer service agents can understand where, how and even why a customer has interacted with a brand. Armed with this intelligence, the agent can deliver a level of personalized service that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Meanwhile, product managers can design apps and website features that better reflect how customers actually engage with them, whether they ultimately make a purchase online or offline.
When all departments within an organization understand and plan around the fact that today’s consumers are engaging with the brand at multiple entry points, it creates a solid foundation upon which retailers can grow and innovate with the customer top of mind. What’s more, the tools used to enhance the omnichannel experience can generate actionable insights on customer journeys, including customer behavior, any digital glitches, and predictive analytics for optimizing engagements and offers.
No Customer Left Behind
While shopping habits have changed across the board, it’s also important to keep in mind that different types of customers will likely gravitate toward different entry points.
For instance, while only 9.6 percent of Gen Z reports that they bought items in a brick-and-mortar store over the previous six months, older demographics — including Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers — show a greater preference for physical stores, with between a quarter and a third of these groups reporting that they bought items in brick-and-mortar locations.
Given such differences, retailers should plan their omnichannel strategies with an eye toward crafting experiences that reflect each shopper’s unique needs and preferences. Enabling customers to reserve items online, pick them up curbside, and pay in-store, for example, allows them to enjoy the ease and convenience of digital shopping while still offering the tactile, interactive experience of brick-and-mortar shopping that so many customers crave.
Thinking Outside the Box
Simply put, omnichannel is about far more than offering quality customer journeys across different channels. It’s also about leveraging different channels to complement each other — starting with harnessing digital capabilities to enhance the in-store experience.
Say a customer enters a store and connects to its Wi-Fi network. Like a majority of consumers already do from time to time, she then looks up a specific product on her smartphone. The network can tell her where she can find that item within the store and even suggest complementary products. And if the item isn’t available in the store? The network directs her to the nearest available location or prompts for an online order.
As stores reopen in compliance with social distancing guidelines and foot traffic returns, many brands are embracing the opportunity to build out their omnichannel capabilities. Take Sally Beauty Holdings, which in the wake of the pandemic has rolled out curbside pickup, same-day delivery, and ship-from-store offerings. Such measures aren’t merely temporary tactics for navigating COVID-19. Sally Beauty CEO Chris Brickman says that the company plans to add additional omnichannel services to build on its existing offerings and enhance customer service.
The omnichannel opportunity not only offers brands a vital pathway to business continuity in uncertain times, it can also help smaller retailers go toe-to-toe with big retailers like Amazon by combining the best of all channels: the ease and efficiency of e-commerce, the personalization of digital retail, and the warmth and engagement of the brick-and-mortar experience. By fully leaning into the omnichannel experience, brands can see themselves through the challenges ahead and emerge even stronger.
Yaron Morgenstern is the CEO of Glassbox, a leading digital experience analytics provider.
Related story: 2020 Top 100 Omnichannel Retailers
Yaron Morgenstern has been the Chief Executive Officer at Glassbox Ltd since October 2015.
Yaron served as General Manager of Financial Markets Compliance at NICE Systems. He led both the NICE Trading Floors & NICE Actimize Capital Markets Compliance groups, and was responsible for the execution of the unique Holistic Surveillance vision that combines trade and communication surveillance capabilities. Yaron oversaw product creation, solution delivery, go-to-market planning, and client relationship management activities across NICE compliance solutions. He was responsible for growing market-leading position and ensuring continuous innovation, decision making, and agility to meet the needs of financial firms around the world.
Prior to that, Yaron held the positions of Vice President of Strategic Initiatives & Operations at NICE Systems. Before joining NICE Systems, he served as Director of Corporate Development & Strategy at Amdocs.
Yaron holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and MBA from Ben Gurion University in Israel.