UPDATE: 2019, February 5th
Going to a store to make a purchase and then going back to that same store to return your purchase is surely something you have experienced. And not too long ago, these were our only options. But now, this is definitely a thing of the past. Traditional commerce became E-Commerce, and then changed again to become Omni-Channel! Consumers are increasinlgy using different ways for making their purchases and they all cross roads at some point. Businesses have no other choices than to adapt their strategy to the new generation of these demanding consumers.
Omni-Channel vs Multi-Channel
At the beginning, the only interaction channel with the client was the actual store. With the evolution of technologies, new channels have quickly emerged and the term multi-channel appeared. Multi-channel is about managing all possible channels individually, using a variety of tools and multiple databases. The client has however to restart the process each time he uses a new channel.
For consumers, E-commerce and retail are now combined. Offering a coherent and continued communication throughout all interaction channels has brought the notion of omni-channel. This approach follows the consumer’s actions on all channels and interacts with him when appropriate on each channel.
A better consumer experience at all levels
Online retailing is no longer considered as a competitor to physical retail stores, but rather seen as a sale accelerator. It provides the consumer with the possibility to get product information and prepares the client for his purchase in store. About 80% of on-site buyers validate prices on the Web beforehand. And according to the MTI’s report, a third of them even check prices while in the store, on the smartphones. So, to avoid frustrations, make sure your prices are the same in store and on the Web!
It is now obsolete to think by channel of communication. Studies show that a consumer will interact, on average, 10 times with your brand for each purchase decision and uses multiple platforms to make it happen. Whether it’s through your mobile app, your social networks, by phone, through your website or in your physical store, today’s consumers want to have the option to either buy in store or online. They want to have their purchases delivered to their home or elsewhere, see their buying history online, receive promotional offers on their phone, share their acquisitions or wish list with their friends on social media, return a product they bought online to any store location, and much more. Buyers today are connected, and they expect you to do the same!
The tools you’ll use to make their buying experience as easy and fun as possible are sure to influence their buying behavior.
Implementing an omni-channel strategy
Where to start?
Adopting an omni-channel approach requires a close relationship with your clients so you can personalize your communications to their fullest. Also, in order to succeed in collecting the necessary information and using it properly, you must implement a flexible and powerful data management system that meets your business’s structure.
Here are a few key points to consider for a successful omni-channel integration:
- Optimize your online presence
- Be mobile
- Be active on your social media
- Display current and past purchases
- Offer the possibility to pick up online purchases in store
- Offer home delivery
- Allow returns and exchanges in any location
- Have prices that are similar both in store and online
- Use current client information
- Follow consumers’ progress through channels
These are all prerequisites to start an omni-channel strategy. Once you offer all these elements, you can get started. Here are the steps to implement a complete and consistent omni-channel strategy in your company:
1. Know your customers
This step is crucial when talking about omni-channel marketing strategy. Having a thorough knowledge of your customers’ behaviors and interests allows you to target all your communications, no matter the channel. Take all the data you can find on your customers to see the trends. Use Google analytics, online surveys, forms on your website, and more.
This knowledge will be your main tool to determine which channels your customers are most present on, how they make their purchases: will they check prices online and after purchase in store? Are they more present on social networks? If so, which ones to prioritize? These are all questions that can be answered at this stage.
You can then determine which channels you should connect together, what to offer and at which level of the purchase cycle on each one. Also analyze their activities to find out when it’s best to show your messages.
2. Choose the right communication tools
What matters is to be where our customers want to see us. The first step allows you to determine the contact points you will use to communicate with them. You don’t have to be everywhere at the same time. This is why step 1 is essential. By knowing how your customers act, you can maximize your presence on the channels they use most.
Make sure you get the most out of each platform and optimize their efficiency. According to a study. multi-channel connected customer with a brand consumes approximately 30% more than a customer who buys through a single channel. It is therefore important to make each point of contact a commitment lever.
3. Unify your communications
This is where you need to solidify your brand by coordinating your communications with all the platforms you use. Your online communications must deliver the same message, with the same tone and design as in your print communications or in person (customer service or in-store).
Standardizing your messages will allow you to be recognized everywhere, resulting in more purchases. Indeed, it is very rare that a person who does not know your brand buys the first time. It takes about 7 points of contact to someone unknown to your brand to go on with the purchase, and this is only on the internet. This is why, creating a whole with your different communication channels helps you create a brand-specific identity reminder for people who consider buying, but are not yet persuaded to take action.
In addition, it is essential to also standardize your products, prices, information and service in all your channels to promote a seamless customer experience and risk losing sales otherwise.
4. Bet on the long term
Having an omni-channel strategy means building on lasting relationships with customers. This strategy allows you to establish closer links with your customers and offers you different points of contact to do so. This encourages the loyalty of your customers who will undoubtedly make repeated purchases. Thanks to your strategy perfectly set up.
The next step, to solidify the relationship, is to offer more and more personalized offers, as well as a loyalty program for your best customers.
As you can imagine, using an omni-channel approach can be an important time and money investment, depending on where you start. It is a process that will require a questioning of the general company functioning as well as the roles of each. To transform your organization, you must plan and implement your strategies and resources accordingly.
It is obviously easier to implement omni-channel marketing for small businesses than for larger companies. Small businesses are not limited to the marketing and logistics silos that large companies have.
The adoption of such a strategy will certainly contribute to the acquisition of new customers, the improvement of their experience, their satisfaction and loyalty. Developing follow-up tools and an efficient database usually requires the help on a specialist in this field. Do not hesitate to contact our experts to get further information on implementing an omni-channel strategy.
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