Do more channels mean more money?
There is no doubt that providing consumers with more than one channel offers an increased opportunity for sales, which can boost revenue, customer loyalty and market share. But is it really as simple as ‘more channels = more money…?’ Perhaps that was the case years ago, but these days, customers want far more than just a collection of different channels from which to choose.
Today’s omni-channel customers wants to shop on their own terms. They want to browse, research and compare information across channels to find the best products and deals before making their purchases. ‘Showrooming’ and ‘webrooming’ are now everyday practices for many of these connected consumers, and the lines between channels are blurring as customers engage with retailers in-store, online and on the go; whenever, however and in whatever combination suits them.
There is a growing recognition that shoppers buying across multiple channels in this way are becoming the most valuable type of customers. For example, in the recent study ‘Payments trends in the European retail sector,’ consultants Edgar, Dunn & Company state that leading UK retailer John Lewis found that omni-channel shoppers are spending, on average, three times more than single channel shoppers. Additionally, they also found that over 60 percent of their customers browsed online before making a purchase in store.
Customer experience is the driver for connecting channels
It is no longer about offering goods and services across multiple channels – nor is it enough to focus on driving sales within those individual channels. Retailers must acknowledge that, for their customers, channels are not separate entities, but integral and interconnected parts of the customer experience. This, of course, presents retailers with both opportunities and challenges – tearing up the textbook on the traditional multi-channel approach and instead placing the customer center stage, as retailers find the best ways to engage and convert them.
An omni-channel strategy creates the opportunity for a seamless and consistent customer experience – giving shoppers a connection to a brand, not merely a sales channel. Moving to this approach can deliver a range of benefits to retailers, including increased sales, improved customer loyalty and satisfaction, as well as an increased competitive advantage.
With customer experience fast becoming a key focus and the brand differentiator for most retailers, the need for a seamless, personalized, multi-touch experience is now an imperative – leaving no room for separate experiences in different channels.
Retailers are moving to implement their omni-channel strategy
The aforementioned Edgar, Dunn & Company study indicated that retailers are starting to respond to the need for an omni-channel approach. 31 percent of respondents stated that they had already put their strategy live, and a further 46 percent claim that their strategy is in development.
The key to realizing this omni-channel and customer experience ideal lies in deploying a centralized, integrated strategy. By managing each channel separately, retailers will struggle to maintain a single brand identity and build a comprehensive picture of customer behaviour and preferences across channels – something that plays a critical role in the ability to deliver a personalized and compelling customer experience.
Above all, the right technology must underpin an effective omni-channel retail strategy – and this technology must address channel silos and inconsistencies to facilitate better customer visibility and service, bringing channels together to deliver that all-important seamless customer experience.