Creating an omnichannel customer experience has been a top strategy for retailers. The issue with this thought process is that it puts attention squarely on the fact that retailers are managing separate channels that act as customer touchpoints. As the industry evolves, we need to move past managing these channels separately and look toward providing a seamless experience to the customer. This way, no matter what channel the customer is coming to you from, he or she will have the same experience.
Listed below are 4 things your business can do to leverage each support channel while providing customers with the experience they are looking for.
Make the relationship with your customer the focus. Any good relationship starts with trust. Earn your customers' trust by consistently delivering not just what they expect, but what they need as well. This means listening to what they say and then using their feedback to make your business even better. Trust also means doing what you say you are going to do. For example, if you say your business has a hassle-free return process, then you need to make sure your refund procedure is simple and takes care of customers without issue.
Use a customer mindset to guide your actions. Take the time to map out your customers' journey through the touchpoints of your business and work to be proactive whenever possible. For example, we all know customers research products online before purchasing, so make it as easy as possible for them. If your website has the ability, link products to manufacturer or customer reviews to assist customers in making an informed decision. Customers also appreciate when you value their time, so when showing a product on your website, consider listing directions on how to quickly locate the item in your store. Time is also important when it comes to paying for merchandise, both online and in store, so make this process quick and easy.
Eliminate internal silos that can impede progress. In many organizations, the person directing actions for the online part of the business is not the same person who makes decisions for store merchandising or marketing. This can create a divided focus that does not allow one channel to seamlessly support the others. By aligning these elements under a single management structure, a business can create an overall plan that builds upon itself. For example, if your website has garden tools pictured on the front page to showcase your new assortment, then the rest of your business elements should support that same focus. Your marketing strategy can include sending customer emails referencing the key initiative or highlighting promotional events that reinforce the same category of garden tools and put these items front and center. Your store locations can merchandise garden tools at the front entrance or have a sidewalk sale and invite brands to come in and share their newest additions to the assortment.
Be open to change. The way customers shop and the things they find value in has dramatically changed over the last 10 years. Things like personalization, customer experience, and social influence seem to be what everyone is focused on. Legacy thinking has brought us this far, and now it is time to expand our options and test and try new ideas that embrace the digital world. Customers want a business to know, understand, and appreciate them, interact with them, predict their needs, and then give them what they want quickly. To satisfy these expectations, we need to be open to doing things in a way that has never been tried before. Retailers have started to realize that customer shopping experiences are not limited to a single channel and, for that reason, we need to reimagine our approach. Change is never easy, but it is often necessary. Embrace the need for change and encourage its growth.
The omnichannel experience is something that retailers have been working toward for years, but few believe they do it well. Now, customers are already looking past this expectation and seeking even more from their experience. The good news—our customers know what they want and are willing to tell us exactly what they expect. The only question is . . . are we listening?