Author: Chris Anderson, Founder & CEO, In-Store Experience
With increasing options for shoppers to browse and transact, the ability to move smoothly between online and in-store retail becomes even more important in determining the success and longevity of a retailers business.
Thinking across channels, rather than focusing on individual channels separately presents an opportunity to engage customers however they find you - and can make the entire brand experience more pleasant and engaging. This approach is called omnichannel retail, and it has become an essential part of any contemporary retail business strategy.
Here are 3 factors to consider to get omnichannel retail right:
Integration: Omnichannel retail is a step away from the “multichannel” mentality, whereby businesses have online and brick-and-mortar retail options but keep the two relatively separate. In order to have a successful Omnichannel strategy, businesses have to integrate their online and in-store retail experiences to facilitate the operation of both. A good example of this is REI: because outdoors and sports products often require a degree of research before purchasing, REI has implemented in-store wifi and equipped their sales team with tablets, encouraging customers to use their in-store experience like a live search bar. Meanwhile, a number of clothing stores including Lucky Brand have implemented order-online, pickup in-store programs that encourage online shoppers to visit their stores, and facilitates in-store shoppers’ switch to online.
Data: It’s impossible to have a successful retail strategy if you don’t know how your customers are shopping. The most successful businesses now are keeping current with their customers’ demands. The push for omnichannel retail, after all, grows from consumers’ shift from single-channel retail to the integration of online and in-store shopping. In order to use tech to its greatest advantage, stores are beginning to track their customers’ shopping habits and adjusting their business practices accordingly. Supermarket giant Kroger, for instance, has been using consumer data to provide new products and adjust their stock to optimize sales. Data means information on what customers want; it’s in the retailers best interest to use it.
Consistency: It might sound simple, but moving between different retail channels leaves a lot of room for error. It’s important to use a consistent message, provide the same products, and utilize uniform graphics to maintain a company image that compels rather than confuses consumers. If a company’s online presence doesn’t match their in-store branding, that can not only turn-off customers but also lead them to assume that the company or website isn’t legitimate. And if a customer arrives at a store expecting products available online, they will be disappointed if the store has a severely limited stock or otherwise lacks the utility of their website. Consistency in branding and products is essential in order to maintain a successful omnichannel presence.