As we enter the Christmas shopping season, retailers should plan for all scenarios and learn why omnichannel is important.
Stores may close temporarily or have reduced capacity, while click & collect and delivery are likely to become even more popular. eCommerce websites are going to play a bigger role than they have in seasons past, and social media platforms will become a key place to connect with customers.
While shoppers may not ask for it by name, omnichannel retail is what they want. Eighty per cent of customers expect a consistent experience across all of a retailer’s channels, according to research from Salesforce. And businesses that do it well will benefit from the $43.1 billion in online sales by 2022, forecasted by CBRE.
So, how do you pull off a successful omnichannel retail strategy?
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Your online and in-person stores should be complementary
Online shopping was already popular before COVID-19. In fact, Google found that 56 percent of people’s time spent shopping happens online. This holiday season, that number is only going to grow.
Optimise your website for search engines so shoppers can find your business and products. If you have a physical store location, SEO can help here, too.
- Make sure your address and store name appear correctly across search results.
- Claim and verify your business listings on Google and Yelp.
- Double-check that your holiday business hours are correct, and that you indicate when you’re open for all the ways you sell, like delivery and click & collect.
Clear and up-to-date information is part of effective omnichannel marketing and will make it easier for shoppers who find you online to visit your store.
Diversify sales channels
Increase sales by using eCommerce tools on your social media platforms. These channels are not only a great way for customers to find your business, but they can also help people discover your individual products.
Nearly 90 percent of consumers say they will buy from a brand they follow on social media, and 84 percent will choose that brand over a competitor, according to SM Perth. Each platform offers tools to direct traffic to your retail website or product pages, or to complete the purchase directly on your social media page.
Tie in your brand messaging
Whether your customers are shopping on Instagram or visiting your brick-and-mortar store, your brand messaging should stay the same. For example, your in-store promotion copy should match how you talk about those same promotions on your social media platforms.
You can also extend your brand messaging through your interactions with online customers. Chat and video tools can bridge the divide that social distancing creates, helping you develop a relationship with your customer base that makes sense for your brand. As you incorporate your Christmas marketing ideas, for instance, make it easy for customers to reach out online or schedule a video conference if you sell items that require more guidance.
Sync your inventory
By offering omnichannel retail options, you give shoppers more than one way to buy a product from you. That means your inventory needs to be in sync everywhere you sell so buyers aren’t disappointed. Smart inventory management also helps you keep track of sales across channels, no matter how they’re fulfilled.
Share how much product you have, along with details explaining how shoppers can reserve or buy an item online before they head to the store to pick it up. An omnichannel strategy that provides a variety of options will help customers choose the delivery or pickup method that’s most convenient for them.
Keep your prices the same
Some eCommerce websites take advantage of dynamic pricing, which can adjust the amount of an item based on various factors. With omnichannel marketing, however, your customers want consistency. Be sure your offers and promotions are the same, no matter where a customer discovers your products.
In one study, 69 percent of shoppers said they look for reviews on their phone first, while 53 percent would search for deals on their mobile before speaking to an employee, according to eMarketer. And more than three-quarters of consumers are likely to choose a retailer offering pricing and promotions that are the same across channels.
While you can offer personalised promotions, your catalogue should have consistent pricing to prevent shoppers from having buyer’s remorse.
Omnichannel retail and the future
An omnichannel retail strategy can help you address the challenges of today’s world. Whether your business is online-only, brick-and-mortar, or click-and-mortar, your customers crave consistency. And it’s your job to deliver that everywhere you sell.
As we adapt to the unknowns of this year’s Christmas shopping season, providing customers with a connected and familiar experience through omnichannel retail methods can be a welcome constant in a time of uncertainty.