omni-channel retail

The difficulties of delivering a great omnichannel experience

When it comes to operating in a competitive environment, savvy businesses are utilising omnichannel commerce as a way to engage with the customer at all touchpoints. A great system will learn from the customer’s behaviour and deliver a consistent and tailored experience everywhere they shop.

If you can manage it, omnichannel commerce just makes sense. According to the Harvard Business Review, omnichannel customers “… spent an average of 4% more on every shopping occasion in the store and 10% more online than single-channel customers.” What’s more, the study also found that with every additional channel used, shoppers spent more in-store, with customers who used over four channels spending 9% more.

Unfortunately, the key phrase here is “if you can manage it”. Although omnichannel commerce is an asset to any business, it’s not always easy to execute. Here are some of the difficulties you might encounter when deciding to embark on omnichannel marketing.

It’s non-linear 

The omnichannel journey is complex and non-linear. With today’s technology, customers have a proliferation of touchpoints available to them. 

For example, they could follow your brand on social media but not buy anything; or they could walk in-store, check out your products and buy them online later; or perhaps they decide to buy your products online, collect their order in-store, and add more products to their cart as they check out. 

As you can see, there’s no straight line to the customer experience. Instead of a straight line, we need to re-imagine the customer experience as a spider’s web. And, no matter where your customer is in that web, you’ll need to be able to meet them in any given channel at any given time. Furthermore, because customers expect a personalised shopping experience, you will need to install systems that “remember” your customers no matter where they are. 

However, this brings up another challenge…

Your systems don’t talk to each other

Personalisation is key to the customer experience, but capturing and analysing all of this behavioural data is where things get complicated. Most omnichannel commerce involves the use of multiple standalone platforms, none of which talk to each other.

This means that a customer might have bought something online, but the in-store retail reps have no idea what’s going on. Customer behaviours might suddenly shift but the email marketing team won’t realise. Prices and stock levels online could vary wildly with what’s actually available in-store.

As you can see, the potential for chaos is high. To make it work, you’ll need a “Golden Record” – a single view of your customer that captures all information – whether that’s online, offline, through email, telephone, live chat, or social media. It lets you aggregate all this data into one place, which all teams can access, allowing everyone to get on the same page.

The only problem is creating a Golden Record is…

You don’t have the workforce or technology to support it

As we mentioned, managing multiple customers relationships at all touchpoints can be complex, especially when everyone is using different systems. For your omnichannel endeavour to succeed, you’re going to need employees who have channel-specific skills and experience, and the technology to execute this.

That’s why any great omnichannel experience usually starts with an ambitious dram and then a systems integration project. It’s an overhaul of every possible system you work with, (from product information and delivery to personalised email marketing and loyalty incentives) consolidating them all into a single integrated system.

All of these difficulties can be avoided when you choose Magento. Find out how to build a connected and customer-centric platform for your omnichannel experience in this PDF

When an eCommerce site is not just an eCommerce site

According to the business coaching gurus, sales are easy!  All you do is just capture a lead, nurture that lead, make the sale and then get a testimonial. Job done!  

But what does it actually mean? Why does one brand have a cult-like following and another brand struggle even to make traction or sales?

How do you capture those leads in the first place to nurture them? And what is nurturing?  Do I invite them around to my house for a meal and a cuddle? I’m just trying to sell (insert product here ie newborn photography, plus size clothing, bridal dresses, pens etc)!!

The truth is, in today’s society, if you build it, they won’t come.  You need to start by building a community because more and more, people want their purchases to have meaning and they want to be part of something.

Aspirational brands help customers to belong

Look at Toms for example, they built their whole brand out of giving back.  So for every pair of shoes you bought someone disadvantaged would get a pair of shoes.  You purchase some shoes AND it made you feel so good about yourself, nice!

But more than that, they detail the stories behind your impact of buying shoes which shows you how you are making a difference and helps you feel like you belong to a community of people who want to create change.

TOMS has expanded into other causes

Harley Davidson have a Harley Owners Group section complete with member benefits and events.  Because people who love to ride are the ultimate in community.

Apart form membership, it provides Harley owners with local events where they can be part of the Harley community and many other tools and tidbits such as mileage recognition. All of this adds to the prestige of owning and riding their Harley amongst those who ‘get it’.

Harley understands its customers need to belong and their love of riding.

Sephora have one of the best communities of an omni-channel brand.  Sephora redefined how women shop for beauty products and created the Beauty Insider Community.  This ensures that their raving fans can join groups to connect with each other and follow topics of interest, they can ask questions of experts, browse the galleries and get inspiration, and score access to exclusive events.  Not to mention all their how-to videos and quizzes.

Sephora keeps its community engaged

So, whether you support a bigger cause like third world poverty or the growing concern of self-body image issues or have just created a brand synonymous with luxury or performance, when your customer feels part of a community there is power and loyalty in that.  So capturing and nurturing leads is about helping people to belong.

And loyalty goes well beyond a loyalty program when you have raving (mad) fans.  These are people who will line up for hours just to be first in line to get your new product and will keep you afloat in the tough times.

Your community and your website

Whether your business is based on helping others or is it about having others aspire to be like your brand, you need to create this reflection on your website where people can get involved.

Before you build your website, think about how you will represent this community experience and get your best customers involved on your website. And your eCommerce platform choice will be important here too because it will need to be flexible to allow you to represent your items for sale as well as your community and informational aspect.

It’s in this way that an eCommerce website is not just an eCommerce website anymore, and the more you can get your customers involved and part of your brand, the more you will have a customer for life.

If you want help discussing how you will reflect your community aspect on your website and help your customers to get involved and feel like they belong – just contact us on hello@theplayhousegroup.com