Retail is changing, and customer expectations have never been higher. Is it time for you to consider omni-channel?
Omnichannel retail means selling to customer across different platforms – online, mobile, brick-and-mortar, direct selling – you get the idea. Customers have the option of buying online and picking up their purchase at a store or ordering their products online and getting them shipped from the nearest store right to their homes.
Whether customers choose a store-only, online-only or store + online model, it is about creating a coordinated and seamless experience. To achieve that, you need to have the right systems and tools in place so you can deliver that personal shopping experience.
If you are thinking about omni-channel, here are a few things to consider.
The Right Ecommerce Platform
You need an ecommerce platform that supports an omni-channel operation. The technology for omni-channel selling must bridge the online/offline gap while keeping your customers connected to their shopping experiences.
From the point-of-sale to inventory, supply chain and fulfillment, your ecommerce platform needs to be flexible and have room to expand and adapt. For example, UK fashion retailer Oasis arms its brick and mortar staff with iPads, which are used to track inventory and check product availability. If an item is out of stock in the physical store, the iPad can be used to place an online order for the customer. Similarly, if customers shopping online can’t find what they need, they can use the Seek & Send service to locate the item at the nearest physical store and pick it up there.
Site Responsive Design
Your customers are shopping from all types of devices – a smartphone, laptop, tablet or even via a mobile app. To be a better omni-channel seller, you need to optimize your site for mobile traffic. During the 2014 holiday season, mobile traffic accounted for close to 50% of all online traffic, so making room for the mobile shopper is a must. You need to have a site that offers:
- Easy navigation
- Quick load time
- Uncomplicated search
- One-step checkout
The layout should be simple so that it can adjust to smaller screen sizes and forms (if any) should be easy to fill. Make browsing easy with quick swiping and retain as much customer information as possible so that they don’t have to spend too much time keying in details.
Training Across All Service Channels
Remember, omni-channel retail is about providing your customers with a seamless shopping experience, whether they are in-store or online. Each of these channels addresses customers concerns in a different way, so you need to tailor your customer service to support that.
For better omni-channel service, merchants needs to be “omni-focused” on marketing, communications and customer service. Contact center agents need to be tech-savvy and must respond in real-time. Brick and mortar associates need to know where to find things, where to direct customers, and how to connect with them to sell your brand.
Omnichannel retail is the future of selling. As customers put convenience first, it’s up to retailers to make use of and integrate different channels to sell more and sell better. Have you considered stepping into omnichannel selling? What are your thoughts?