One of the biggest changes when it comes to consumers is the role they play and how their shopping habits have changed. They want control of the customer experience, from start to finish, they want to be able to find stuff quicker, have more of a choice online, and they’re using various social media platforms to find the best possible deals.
To not be at the back of the pack, retailers need to adopt a new strategy, namely the “omnichannel commerce” approach to give the consumer the buying experience they want, and to improve their business’ performance.
It’s important to not think of omnichannel eCommerce as a trend or a tactic. Instead, think of it more as customer journey—omnichannel shopping for a seamless experience for the consumer. Even before it was given a name, people were buying according to the approach without even realising it: fragmented viewing, hopping from one channel to a device, and from a device back to a channel. People need up to six to eight touch points before they buy something, which could include seeing something in a magazine or show window, then seeing the same product on Facebook and Instagram. They then visit the website to get an overall feel for a product and check review sites. They might even ask on Twitter whether anyone’s had a good or bad customer experience with the company before.
Omnichannel marketing is about being omnipresent.
What is the Omnichannel Approach?
The omnichannel or omni-channel approach is very much consumer-focused and provides a smooth shopping experience on various buying channels, from the traditional brick-and-mortar shop, to website, mobile apps, TV, and radio.
Adopting this approach also gives you, the retailer, an advantage by being able to use all the information to give the customer an even more personalised shopping experience. For example, your sales team can check a customer’s buying history based on purchases already made and then offer recommendations based on that information. This gives you the opportunity to engage with your customers on an individual basis.
How It Works
This fairly new approach takes all the shopping platforms, from TV and mobile apps to websites, mobile phones, and radio, to name a few and it integrates them all. It’s one thing having them all connected and another using it effectively. So, for example, a customer is able to start the purchase process on his mobile phone and complete it on the website. Or a customer can see something in a store, go home and purchase it online and then collect it from another store nearby.
Businesses are slowly realizing the importance of the omnichannel approach. However, not all are getting it right, just yet. For the companies who are making use of the omnichannel approach, they’re already seeing the positive results.
The Omnichannel Approach In Bike Retail
You’re on your mobile device and you see a post from a friend on Facebook with a new bike. You’re looking for a bike yourself so you click on the link to go to the shop’s website and have a better look at it.
However, something comes up and you have to stop your research, so you put your phone down and do what you need to.
Later that day, when you’re home, you go back to the store’s website. It recognises you from earlier and the bike pops up as ‘recently viewed’. You’re able to look at the bike, see other options and compare prices. But you want to actually see the bike.
The next day, you pop into the shop. Your phone immediately connects to the mobile network in the store and a salesperson is alerted to you and the bike you’re interested in buying. He’s in a better position to give you a personalised shopping experience that leads to a sale.
But the omnichannel approach doesn’t end there. You can either take your new bike home or have it shipped to your house through the company’s system. As you eagerly await its arrival you’re able to track the entire delivery process on your laptop, tablet or smartphone.
The bike arrives safe and sound and you get a call straight away from the store asking if you’re happy with everything and if it’s what you wanted. Unfortunately, a few days later you need to call the customer service department. The person on the other end of the phone knows what you ordered and is able to give you all the information you need without you having to spend time explaining everything.
That is the omnichannel approach. And it’s a bit of a minefield—but worth it. If you want to consider it for your bike retail business, consider the steps below.
The omnichannel approach for mobile devices
Mobile phones are becoming the main source of traffic for eCommerce, which makes a lot of sense. Statistics show 62% of all mobile phone users have bought something online using their phones in the last six months. Also, 10% of all retail revenue is made up of eCommerce pounds. A smart retailer will make sure their website or mobile app (What? You don’t have an app!) is optimised to provide a navigation process that’s simple and quick, so customers can find exactly what they’re looking for.
Apparently, 85% of shoppers start the buying process on one platform and finish on a different one. A company with the correct omnichannel approach will be able to stay in touch and communicate with shoppers on various channels. This could include something as simple as personalising an email, to retargeting buyers on ad platforms like Facebook, or offering promotions and special offers.
Manage your customer’s data
It’s one thing having access to all the customer’s information, it’s another thing using it to boost sales and create awareness. The best way to do this is by standardising the data you have collected from the different sites, customer surveys, and subscription forms. Use an infrastructure that can handle large amounts of data and is able to access it quickly.
As shoppers adapt and buy, so, too, do retailers need to change the way they sell. Adopting the omnichannel approach is a surefire way to keep your business relevant in an ever-changing environment.