To stay relevant, retailers need to deliver a consistent and cohesive brand experience across all sales and marketing channels — whether they’re being accessed digitally, in stores, or on mobile. It’s all about connecting the dots.
From sophisticated multitouch campaigns to lavish in-store experiences, large retailers are doubling down on omnichannel. But smaller businesses (with smaller budgets) can get in on the game, too.
Here are some low-cost ways for your small business to take its omnichannel strategy to the next level.
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Understand your customers.
The first step toward crafting an effective omnichannel strategy is to understand who your customers are and how they shop. One way to do this is through a simple survey asking people about their shopping preferences. (You can offer a discount to give your customers an incentive to complete the survey.)
You might ask how they discover new products (social media, browsing in the store, word of mouth) or what sorts of items they’d be more likely to buy in person rather than online. That sort of information helps focus your efforts. If tons of customers say they discover new items via Instagram, for example, you know that’s a channel you should be spending energy on.
Data is key here as well. There’s a slew of metrics you can track to understand how customers are interacting with your business.
Digitally, that includes things like the most popular pages on your website, reactions to changes in your product offerings, engagement from marketing email, sales by device (mobile versus desktop), and your social media conversion metrics.
In the store, track new versus returning customers, as well as their buying patterns. What time of day are most purchases made? What is the frequency of purchases? All of this data provides a 360-degree view of the factors that influence your customers’ buying behavior.
Offer in-store Wi-Fi.
Increasingly, consumers are doing their own product research while they’re in brick-and-mortar stores. Forrester Research and RetailMeNot found that 84 percent of consumers access the internet from their mobile devices while in a store, and 65 percent use their smartphones to find coupons online.
So offer in-store Wi-Fi to help usher these customers along their buying journey. To make in-store research even easier, integrate QR codes that link to product information online.
Diversify where you sell.
Sell and market your products wherever your customers are shopping or browsing. Most customers navigate between many touch points both digitally and in person to purchase a product — social media, online marketplaces (like Amazon and Etsy), your own website, review sites, and larger retailers (that sell different brands), to name a few.
However, as you diversify, remember to keep the experience consistent. As customers jump across multiple touch points, they should encounter similar branding and pricing. Ninety percent of shoppers expect their experience to be consistent across all channels and devices.
Create educational content.
High-quality, engaging content is imperative when it comes to educating customers, answering questions, and instilling trust. The more compelling content you can create that explains why purchasing something from you is a good choice, the more you’ll sell.
Content should take many forms: blog posts, guides, customer reviews, and especially video. Video content is not only engaging but also helps with SEO and performs well on social media. Consider creating explainer videos for your cornerstone products or services. Or, if you have the bandwidth, launch a video series of tutorials that showcase your area of expertise.
Try integrating social media into your brick-and-mortar experience. Dressing rooms can have displays that let customers check out product reviews of what they’re trying on. You can encourage customers to take photos of what they bought and post it on Instagram for a prize. Or you can even have screens that showcase a live social media feed related to your products or industry.
Offer free in-store pickup.
People — especially millennials — love to save on shipping. Turn your brick-and-mortar store into a fulfillment center for your online channels so people can pick up their products without paying for shipping.
Leverage your expertise.
Small businesses may have a leg up here. Because you’re homegrown, you likely have loads of expertise about your products and industry. Leverage that in your store by offering tutorials and workshops. Online, integrate live chat (or even the ability to video chat with an expert) into your website.