Omnichannel – the new gear of retail


Our daily lives and expectations are tied to two worlds, the physical touchpoints and the digital world. And even though some of us have a special place in our hearts for the more tangible encounters, unconsciously we tend to enjoy them even more when served with efficiency and speed of the digital world.

The main goal of an omnichannel retail strategy is to gain advantage with a consistent and relevant customer experience throughout the channels, supported by operational efficiency.

So what’s needed in order to harness the power of omnichannel to benefit of your retail business? We listed 5 key points to make omnichannel the new gear for your retail teams.

1. Terms of discovery

One of the first aspects to consider when embarking on the omnichannel path is the existence of your retail locations and ecommerce site for your audience. Sounds simple enough, but when the customer is typing your stores name to their internet browser on their mobile, (yes over 50% of ecommerce browsing is on mobile devices) the existence of your store is hanging by a thread.  Seconds used looking for the store locations and opening hours hidden in the black depths of your site, will feel like an eternity and the first possible obstacle in reaching a positive customer experience.

For many, a successful customer experience actually entails the whole 360 degree tour, from receiving excellent specialised customer service in-store, seeing the product in real life and then finishing the purchase online. So make sure to guide your customers to your own ecomm site in due time.

Turn your retail store into an Instagrammable shop. Integrating social media channels and their main messages into the in-store environment and encouraging customers to share their experience, are crucial for organic visibility of your stores. Provide in-store experience worth taking a photo of and sharing it on social media. 

2. Data driven design

Data and its insights are one of the big jet rockets of omnichannel retail. Data collected and utilized across both channels can help build a truly relevant retail experience for your consumers. A big part of browsing that starts online, will end up in your physical stores, in which case ecomm insights can help you build more result-driven visual merchandising, fresh merchandising themes and stronger cross selling products.

Expert visual merchandising practices from the field can be highly valuable in building result-driven online merchandise planning and cross selling in the ecomm environment.

3. Consistency of Retail Experience Design

Behind each successful brand encounter in retail is the consistency of brand messages, merchandise planning and marketing efforts and the active ‘cross-pollination’ on all channels. 

The most impactful seasonal stories and campaigns flow organically throughout the channels, creating a unified visual experience. A pleasant experience that started online, can end up in a grave disappointment if the physical store’s visual or service experience doesn’t reach expectations set in the ecomm world. On the other hand, a positive customer experience in-store can quickly be ruined by clumsy UX design and lazy upkeep of an ecommerce platform.  

The omnichannel approach should be a staple part of the daily operations of retail marketing and communications. What could be the way for your brand to bring forth the three dimensional assets of your physical locations as a part of you digital experience?

By highlighting the beautiful visual merchandising, the personality and expertise of sales staff and the brand expression in the interior design in your ecomm environment, you can build a more holistic overview showing the best of both worlds. Perhaps even the daily operations of your store locations could be a part of your social media content, bringing the physical retail world a step closer to your online shoppers.

4. Retail technology

Retail tech can be a real boost for the omnichannel approach in customer relationship management, sales insights, after-marketing and even in-store visual merchandising.

It can be harnessed to bring forth crucial insights from enormous amounts of data, pinpointing the real problem areas and possible points of future focus. SnapShop for example is just tech solution for the job, when focusing on omnichannel brand consistency and in-store compliance.

Before choosing the tech solutions for your brand, make sure to have a clear view on the problems that will truly benefit from it. What does your current omnichannel strategy entail? Which touchpoints in your current customer journey bring or could bring the most value to your customer? What does an ideal omnichannel experience look like for your customers?

5. The human factor

Many of the topics discussed in the previous chapters are an everyday occurence for the retail executives, but for many retail field teams, the world seen through the omnichannel lenses is completely new. Even though their younger customers are fully digitally native, not knowing of a world without internet, the field teams often see ecommerce as a completely separate entity from their own functions.

Appropriate omnichannel sales and service training is fundamental when shifting to an omnichannel strategy. Internalizing the new service concept, basic knowledge of ecommerce, the ease of access to key data and insight and implementing them in daily operations are priority number one. Only once the retail field teams learn to understand their own vital role in the creation of a memorable omnichannel retail experience, the digital channels become true sales power tools rather than a big bad boogie men. 

Wishing everyone omnichannel success!

Ilona Oksanen

The writer is the founder of WERK, a Retail Consultant and Visual Merchandising Specialist, with a passion to help retailers towards memorable in-store experiences, omnichannel strategies and result-driven visual merchandising practices.

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