Omnichannel Retail: Your Ultimate Guide To Retail in 2022
According to the latest McKinsey report, the pandemic has redefined online shopping for the customer. Enter, omnichannel retail. With a drastic move to online stores, around 40% of customers have switched brands to those who are better equipped – not just in back-end logistics, but in terms of their customer experience as well. In response to this transition, brands have to focus on revisiting their marketing strategy, improving their supply chain, and adopting new channels to enable omnichannel engagement.
What is omnichannel retail?
Omnichannel retail refers to the network of integrated channels for a seamless retail experience. A customer-centric omnichannel retail strategy is carved with touchpoints along the customer journey across all possible communication channels to facilitate seamless customer interaction. Customers may choose to communicate with your brand in different ways. They may walk up to a physical store to experience it for themselves, may reach out to you over a mobile device, may take to offline communication, or post a message across digital channels like social media platforms. An omnichannel experience promises an enhanced customer experience and helps sustain customer loyalty in the long run.
Omnichannel retail allows the e-commerce market to personalize customer journeys. Whether customers walk through a brick-and-mortar store or browse through an online marketplace, omnichannel shopping delivers a seamless experience every single time.
Here’s how retailers decide what’s good for their business: omnichannel or multi-channel retail?
What does omnichannel mean for retail?
Retailers care about their shoppers. Right from their constant need to switch from your eCommerce site, exclusive store to the shopping app, retailers want to offer a consistent experience to their shoppers. Retailers are now focusing on adopting the omnichannel approach to contextualize customer journeys, record and analyze purchase history and prioritize customer queries for quicker resolutions.
I think in 2030, shopping will feel incredibly personalized. It’ll feel like the sales associates in that store know me as well as a close friend or maybe as well as a personal stylist, says Kelsey Robinson.1
However, how does an online store mimic the level of personalization that in-store executives can create in real-time?
In-store experiences have become an integral part of the omnichannel customer experience as much as online user experience has. Sales associates are monitoring and analyzing consumer behavior to personalize customer journey such that it facilitates easy discoverability of the product and additional resources customers might need before. Here are a few factors that are imperative to cater to the expectation of every customer:
- Historical context of a customer’s previous purchase history
- Integrated data from across your CRM/ marketing automation tool/ customer service software to present a 360-degree view of the customer
- Proactive campaigns to reach out to customers when there is an offer/restock
- Special communication for customers based on their previous purchase history
Benefits of omnichannel retail customer service
An omnichannel retail experience is a win-win for customers and retailers alike. Not only does this strategy promise a seamless experience but strengthens sales channels to increase revenue via customer engagement. Omnichannel retail not only works towards a unified platform for retail success but adapts and adopts technology advancements to simplify the customer experience to the best of their ability.
Here is a list of additional factors that make omnichannel retail beneficial:
#1 Observe and adapt to customers
The profitability of your business is dependent on customer choices. Intensive market research and data analysis for your target audience are needed to emerge victorious across the retail landscape. Constant customer feedback, mapping of behavioral patterns across the digital channels and physical stores, and queries raised with the customer service team, only bring you closer to the targeted pool. As you continue to launch new products, upgrade features and adapt new tech experiences, online customer reviews and word of mouth become your best friend. All you need to do is enable your customers with the resources they might need and an omnichannel experience gives them just that.
#2 Simplify operations for Omnichannel
What do your customers want? Which channels do they prefer?
An omnichannel approach gives you room to adapt to consumer needs and behavior. Revisit customer data and recalibrate your priorities across multiple channels periodically to find the ones your customers most prefer and are most likely to engage on.
- Monitor channel-wise traffic
- Identify channels you want to invest in
- Allocate resources (labor, technology, and ad spent)
- Create self-service portals and a knowledge base
- Make data available across channels
- Train your customer support team
Leverage the omnichannel strategy to be omnipresent for your customers. Assist them, observe their behavior and realign your priorities if they need you to.
#3 Personalize your customer interactions
Start by connecting the different channels. You might have started as a single-channel retail venture, rising to a multi-channel retail wonder to enhance customer experience. When finally it was the need of the hour, you made the switch to the omnichannel retail experience. Wondering how you could build a unified dashboard to hold it all? Start with Freshdesk Omnichannel. Freshdesk Omnichannel gives you the power to personalize the customer journey with an intuitive and user-friendly interface, intelligent automation augmented by superior AI, and a unified experience across support channels.
#4 Empower your support teams
Start by empowering your support team across traditional and digital channels, consolidate dreaded data reports and streamline teams from a unified dashboard, and let omniroute ease the workload for your support team. Happy employees lead to happier customers. You may delight your customers by deploying AI-powered chatbots and providing instant help to your customers from anywhere and across a platform of their choice. Freshdesk Omnichannel can even help you manage team performance by keeping tabs on how each support agent contributed to improving customer satisfaction.
Challenges of omnichannel retail
Omnichannel retail adopts a well-integrated approach to eCommerce customer experience. No matter where your customers are, the experience remains consistent and seamless. We have taken a look at the challenges across integrated teams and recommended the best way to delight your customers.
The real challenge for marketers is to craft personalized journeys. Customers love choices and they may choose to interact with a brand via digital channels like online stores, social media platforms, mobile apps, or pop-up shops, retail stores, and so on. Data from all these channels needs to be captured on a single platform to facilitate hyper-personalization and to promote customer satisfaction. If you have a seasonal sale coming up or if you’re seeing customers abandon their carts instead of checking out, a notification email may just do wonders and nudge your customers to interact with your brand and make that purchase.
L’Oreal Paris identified that customers might be having a difficult time choosing their hair color. They made that choice easy for their customers by getting L’Oreal hair experts to answer questions about hair care and product selection on Instagram stories. To facilitate the next step on this customer journey, they also shared a link to their handy virtual try-on page. We have also seen the emerging trend of virtual try-ons by jewellery brands and make-up retailers over time.
Once the marketers identify what the customer needs and analyze consumer behavior, they are able to assist the sales teams to extend personalized offers across products specific to different customers, based on their previous purchase history. Sales associates and online stores can then mimic the level of personalization.
For instance: Buying a pair of glasses has traditionally been a brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Unless they see it for themselves, how it looks on them, or if it suits their style, customers may have their apprehensions about buying something that helps them with their routine work. Shopping for eyewear includes a unique buying journey, with the customer’s interest in knowing more about the durability of the lens materials, lending their prescription for customization, choosing the right frame size, style and brand.
Lenskart- India’s largest and fastest-growing online eyewear company introduced its unique Home Eye Check-up service. It brought expert optometrists to homes and offices for convenient eye exams – a great way to get closer to customers. Customers could further use virtual try-ons to choose their frame and desired style and get a list of recommendations based on their frequency of usage and intensity of work. Customers continue to work from home and their new pair of glasses get delivered to their doorstep with the precision of an offline experience.
Retailers need to transition from the consolidation of data in silos to a unified data management system that can accommodate product information, new product updates, and consumer behavior data. This can help retail chains facilitate inventory management and assist brands to deliver a superior customer experience. Customer Experience is ensured when customer service goes hand in hand with customer journeys crafted by the sales and marketing teams. Customers may have questions about the services they had availed, the product bought, the policies of the brand they invest in or they might need assistance along each touchpoint on their personalized journey. That’s where customer service steps in. Here’s a wonderful example from Walgreens which follows a customer-centric omnichannel retail strategy to deliver superior customer service.
Walgreens facilitates a holistic customer experience through myWalgreens, their rewards balance program. Customers can avail benefits by points earned across various touchpoints along their customer journey. They are encouraged to interact with the brand via in-store purchases, online orders, interaction with the Walgreens app, or via their participation in vital health information surveys and in-store activities. What’s more convenient is the reward program allows customers to redeem the accumulated points in the form of cash or as discounts during in-store or online purchases.
5 steps to build an Omnichannel Retail Strategy
1. Identify your customers
Once you understand the product and your business, identify the distinct groups of customers within your target audience. Segmenting your customers further would enable you to personalize your offerings.
Some of the factors by which some merchants segment their customers include:
- Behavioral pattern
- Generation (Baby Boomer/ Millennial/ Gen Z)
- Income brackets
The moment you have a segmented cohort of customers, you can move on to determine the channels where you can interact with them. Customer needs and expectations evolve with time. Here are 15 customer needs you should know about and how you can cater to them.
2. Determine the channels
Picture this. It’s a hot summer afternoon and you’d really like a beverage. Your choice of beverage will lead you to the place where you can quickly get it. That’s where retailers have to make the smart choice of determining channels where they are easily discoverable.
Thinking about a coffee break? You might just drive into the nearest Starbucks.
Starbucks leverages an omnichannel retail strategy to drive retention and promote repeat purchases.2 You can get inspired by their communication for digitally registered customers which drives customers to stores during non-peak hours. Customers are eventually motivated to sign up for the Starbucks Rewards program. What really works for them is the personalized incentives from Starbucks, where free drinks and offers are shared with customers based on their order history.
Retailers need to learn more about customer behavior, their motivation, the influences, and the triggers to impulse purchases in order to determine the right sales channels. A carefully formulated potion of consumer data can help you calibrate where your business needs to function. Constant customer feedback and reviews can help you ascertain what they need and how often they need it and if they would stretch an extra mile to get it. Sales channels have to be updated based on the customer base and business model. A successful distribution channel has a lower churn rate, keeps loyal customers coming back, and acquires new customers.
3. Craft the customer experience journey
Once you determine your channels, you need to increase your visibility where your target audience is likely to discover new brands.
This time, let’s talk about your health. You are not really feeling your best this morning, you head over to your medicine cabinet and figure you need a refill for your medication. You are just a click away from a doorstep delivery service. Thanks to the Freshdesk Omnichannel platform, PharmEasy could seamlessly integrate all communication channels from the phone, live chat, email, social media, and even Google Play Store and Apple Store. Since you had already ordered the previous batches from PharmEasy, your information was readily available and it took a matter of seconds to place that order with an edited dose, actions assisted by the knowledge-base agents.
Hear directly from Pharmeasy on how omnichannel retail helped drive customer service.
Your customer could have picked any route to complete this journey. There’s an equal chance of getting diverted as much as there is room to make repeat purchases. No matter which route a customer picks, an experience is expected to be consistent every single time. Once you learn what your customer wants, you can design an experience they need. It doesn’t matter if you choose omnichannel retail or a multi-channel retail strategy, you need to provide customer support across every channel they might be present. Not only does this promote customer loyalty but increases customer lifetime value for the brands.
4. Automate processes
As soon as you gain visibility across different channels, you’ll need a unified dashboard view to process data in real-time. Seamless interaction among channels is beneficial for the customer support team. Agent A should know exactly where agent B left the conversation and just in case agent C needs to collaborate to resolve this query, all the customer queries and data should be available in one place for easy access.
A similar challenge had to be overcome by RibbedTee. In order to deal with queries around the product and shipment, RibbedTee created a separate inbox for each product and assigned agents to sort through the mail and organize them. However, multiple agents ended up replying to the same message or the messages were not sorted properly and were lost altogether. Freshdesk was able to automate and manage workloads for the business to get customers to love the brand and indulge in repeat purchases.
“I am an advocate of staying operationally efficient. I am not a big fan of growing the team. I am interested in doing more with less, so I would like to have a small team that is highly efficient. Freshdesk is definitely the right tool for this.”- Mikel Schwarz, Co-founder, RibbedTee
Automation stepped in to prevent customers from repeating their queries or any other details they had already shared with the brand. Automation leverages AI-enabled bots and simplified workflow processes which can ease the flow of conversation between the brand and the customers, resolve queries without the intervention of a support agent, prioritize and process customer behavioral data, analyze behavioral trends across raised queries and monitor retail sales.
5. Test, Analyze, Observe, Recalibrate
Your customers are now ready to meet you and your brand on the channels you have chosen to lead your business. You are up to date with technology integrations and workflow automation to provide a seamless customer experience. It’s time for you to test the waters now and launch your brand in the retail market. However, testing doesn’t stop there. It is an ongoing process where you need to observe your customer behavior and repeat what’s working in your favor while revisiting strategies that might not be working well.
During the pandemic, Supara group needed to strengthen its digital footprint amidst the closure of retail stores and email queries multiplying by the day. With customers swiftly moving towards e-commerce, their only support channel was flooded with multiple queries with no management in place to regulate the backlog. The fluid integrations, intuitive triggers, and flexible APIs offered by Freshdesk Omnichannel helped Supara Group to unify all customer and product information. The retail giant, which has a huge following across the globe, integrated Woocommerce, Line and Shopify with Freshdesk Omnichannel to scale support over time. The Supara Group not only scaled their support through tumultuous times like the pandemic; but also future-proofed their digital presence by extending a unified and efficient support experience to customers.
Each touchpoint is home to critical data insights which bring you closer to your customers. Testing along the customer journey opens your brand to newer opportunities along with the omnichannel retail experience. Retailers can leverage these new findings and interlink them with their Omnichannel strategy to recalibrate and adapt to consumer needs. Request a demo today!
What’s buzzing in Omnichannel Retail?
Checkout-less and contactless experiences have gained ground during the pandemic, adding to the omnichannel marketing strategy.
Contactless formats refer to a low-to-no touch shopping experience. Mobile wallets, tap-to-pay cards improve the in-store customer experience. Our customers hate waiting and a no-hassle checkout with no queues for swiping cards is an absolute delight. A contactless shopping experience is a refreshing spin on the traditional shopping experience for the physical world.
Another technology capability that promised its way to the heart of customers was Checkoutless shopping. This shopping experience brings together consumer metrics like in-store behavior, impulsive purchases, abandoned carts where items are selected but put back on the shelf, and items that were discarded during checkout on second thought. Retailers leverage these metrics across every touchpoint to ensure convenience and excellent customer service across every touchpoint, adding it to the benefits of checkout-less shopping.
Now that you know the secret sauce to build a robust omnichannel retail strategy, it’s time to test, analyze, observe and improve. Remember: A comprehensive, integrated omnichannel retail strategy helps you to determine the best way to manage your inventory, understand your customers, improve customer service, and garner customer loyalty.