Check the product out at the store. Buy it online. Have it delivered at the doorstep of your home or office. The omni-channel retail experience is becoming increasingly ubiquitous, and businesses are going all out to develop smarter, more seamless engagement strategies for the ‘post-digital’ world.
More and more retailers are beginning to understand that merely having a presence on multiple channels is no longer enough to woo new markets. Brands are boosting omni-channel engagement by creating personalized, on-demand content that enriches the customer journey across channels by offering contextually relevant information and experiences.
In fact, a powerful omni-channel strategy that delivers a unified brand experience can unlock new markets and increase your customer base - and that’s why it’s important to have a strong foundation in place from the start. Here are 5 essentials that go into building a modern omni-channel strategy.
Data Management: For Consistency and Convenience
Having a single source of truth or a “golden record” of product information, i.e., a consolidated, well-defined version of all data entities present in an organizational ecosystem, is at the heart of effective data management. This helps you create richer brand experiences by ensuring that every customer touchpoint offers relevant and consistent information for every product, thereby letting customers seamlessly move from one channel to another in their buying journey.
Unified, Connected Systems Power Omnichannel
Siloed systems and disparate workflows are anathemas to any omni-channel strategy. To create a seamless customer experience (CX), you’ll need to deploy APIs to accelerate data transfers and smoothly integrate mission-critical applications needed to improve your technology landscape. This way real-time inventory can be synchronized between physical/online stores with integrated customer data and dynamic workflow engines. It further makes sure optimum omni-channel enablement on customer touchpoints like IoT devices, point-of-sale, kiosks, and the likes.
Shared Workflows Help Everyone
It’s hard to execute omnichannel retail if you don’t have shared workflows between your stakeholders. Shared workflows make it easier for employees and third parties to access product information that’s most relevant to their role. For example, a digital marketer may not need to know the product’s expiry date or it’s temperature threshold for spoilage, but a logistics operator could very well find this information essential. Over the years, several Product Information Management (PIM) solutions have made it easier to accurately distribute relevant information throughout the retail landscape. By storing this information in a master file, and enabling access via API calls, PIM platforms act as a key enabler of any omni-channel strategy and helps your stakeholders to effectively contribute to enriching the customer experience.
Product Attributes and Rich Media Integration
The importance of having product attributes assigned to each inventory unit within your database simply cannot be understated. Not only do product attributes offer your customers a richer, more relevant view of their prospective purchases, they can also help nudge them along their buying journey. Through videos, images and accurate product descriptions, it can be made easier for warehousing and in-store staff to acquire better product visibility, which helps them in creating a more compelling retail experience for the buyer.
Segmentation and Targeting Are Essential
If you aren’t using your customer data to create personalized and relevant experiences for your customers, you’re not taking full advantage of your analytics. According to a study by MarketingSherpa, more than 20% of customers opt-out of brand communications due to receiving irrelevant content. This demonstrates how important it is to segment your target markets and tailor unique content that is relevant to each section of customers that engages with your brand. For example, millennials may like receiving vibrant and contemporary content on their smartphones, while specific, offer-based emails may appeal to an older audience.
A good omni-channel strategy has the potential to exponentially grow your customer base and revenues. The Harvard Business Review recently conducted a study showing that 73% of shoppers used multiple retail channels. This statistic supports a study by the Aberdeen Group, stating that retailers with a powerful omnichannel game retained over 89% of their customers – which is staggering, to say the least.
To truly master the omni-channel ecosystem, you’ll need to engage in active experimentation. It’s not enough to just hit fire-and-forget on your automation workflows - you’ll need to constantly tweak and re-engineer product experiences on different channels to see what works best for each of your target audiences.
Based on this article, consider how well your enterprise has executed omni-channel and whether there are any glaring gaps that need to be filled. Also, consider investing in a solid product information management (PIM) and master data management (MDM) strategy that can help you address all of the above without breaking a sweat. And remember, at the end of the day, CX is what makes or breaks any omni-channel strategy. That’s why it’s important to continually deliver new customer experiences that aren’t confined to a single platform but can instead be uniquely experienced across a plethora of touchpoints.