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The race to omni-channel: can you keep up with consumer expectations?

55% of retailers say that their investments are being driven by the customer expectation of mature omni-channel capabilities. Yet, so far, consumers are unimpressed with the majority of brands’ responses.

Just 7% of consumers are ‘extremely satisfied’ that brands provide a seamless, integrated, and consistent experience across channels.

The gap between brand capabilities and consumer expectations is what stands between your company and a slice of the emerging omnichannel market.

64% of retailers currently overlook M-commerce opportunities yet by 2016 44% of retail sales stand to be influenced by connected retail.

The gap is obvious.

Consumers will soon take omnichannel for granted and forward-thinking brands need to begin investing in omnichannel now to stay ahead of the competitive curve.

But what exactly is omnichannel?

 

Multichannel vs Omnichannel

What does omnichannel add to the well-established concept of multi-channel?

In a multi-channel setup, each touch-point functions in a linear fashion – each is a siloed operation that fails to create a single, coherent, brand view.

Omnichannel, on the other hand, features true integration:

To the customer, the business is seen as one whole, seamless entity. Interacting with it is the same on any device or at any touch point.

With true omnichannel, a customer has only a single profile, understood and integrated across all channels.

But this is easier said than done.

94% of retail decision-makers say their companies face significant barriers to integrating their channels and operating a truly joined-up, ‘omnichannel’ business.

So, what are some of the hurdles?

 

Perspective

You’re a digital marketer or e-commerce manager. You think in terms of ROI and engagement, channels and devices, clicks and sales.

Your customers don’t know what channels are.

They don’t search or shop in ‘channels’ – they just search and shop!

They don’t ‘expect’ omnichannel.

They simply see no reason as to why their shopping experience or customer service on their mobile should be any different to the in-store experience – or that they should have to enter their payment details or password again.

Start viewing your business from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know (or care!) what channels mean.

 

The single view

Multi-channel is great. It works well.

But life is getting more difficult: channels are merging.

Already 23-35% of smartphone users have used their devices in-store to take a photo of a product to receive product information, use their location to get local offers, scan barcodes or search for nearby stores.

And brand inconsistency between channels and ‘siloed operations’ – information walls between different parts of a company – are still breaking up the user experience.

When users buy  on a mobile device – say via click-and-collect – and then go down to your physical store to pick up their purchase, they’re still the same person! So treat them accordingly.

 

Data and analytics

86% of high-performing companies use data and analytics.

Why?

Because they enable e-businesses to personalise their sites and segment their audiences in order to craft a modern shopping experience.

Segmentation consists of profiling your customers, then splitting them up into distinct groups by appropriate metrics: interests, purchase history, geo-location and much more.

Personalisation uses those segmented groups to mould a personalised buyer journey for each individual user – building a relationship with them and increasing conversion rates.

But 35% of retailers cited a lack of technology-spanning e-commerce, mobile and the store as a barrier to success.

Don’t be one of them.

 

So why is omnichannel important?

Europeans are set to spend £19.8 billion on mobile shopping in 2014, with consumers who use multiple channels spending on average 4 to 5 times more than those who use only a single channel.

The reason, then, for omnichannel is simple: every flaw in a customer experience you provide gives another brand an opportunity to outdo you and nab that sale.