Omnichannel Retail: How It Will Impact The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Stores
Omnichannel, multichannel retailing...they sound like some quite fancy words, don’t they? Well, not actually, especially after figuring out the differences between the two. But in order to do it, you need to imagine a specific situation…
One of your customers visits your website, in an attempt to find a new pair of running shoes. After searching for a few minutes, he finally comes across exactly what he was looking for, but decides not to buy it at that very moment.
Nothing special so far.
A few hours after this, while browsing on Facebook, the same customer sees your ad on Facebook, clicks on it in order to get the coupon code and ends up making a purchase. Also, during the checkout, he chooses to pick up the purchase at your physical location.
Ok, so considering this example, we can say that the customer interacts with your business through three different touchpoints and has a smooth and seamless experience with each and every one of them.
What is omnichannel retail
Omnichannel retail means meeting the customer at every point of its journey. It is all about having a brick and mortar store, a Facebook page, a website, and being where the customer is. Unlike traditional retail, omnichannel means being available on all channels possible. This will help you increase customer satisfaction because you will be able to meet the shopper right where he wants.
Omnichannel retail vs multichannel retail
If omnichannel retail means being available on different channels, what is the difference between omnichannel and multichannel retail?
A brick and mortar store that has a website is doing multichannel retail, especially if the website and the store have different stocks and policies. For instance, if you purchase something inside the store and you can only return it inside the store, that seller is definitely focused on multichannel retail.
However, if you’ve seen an ad on Facebook about a product and it led you to an online store, you purchased the product online, but you wanted to change the size and you managed to do it inside the brick and mortar store, then that is the true omnichannel retail.
In a nutshell, this is how omnichannel retail works. But we’re here to talk about way more than this!
In 2020, it’s the customers’ needs, but also the overall experience dictating to retailers how they want to interact. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about shopping, paying for stuff, delivery and so on. Everything is set by the customers. And you know what this means, right? That’s right, creating a top-notch customer experience needs a lot of your attention, not to mention that this is basically a never ending process.
But that’s why you have access to a lot of data, which needs to be carefully managed, as it can exist in separate silos across the entire organization, while marketing databases may not be connected with systems able to register choices or preferences. Nobody said it’s going to be easy, though.
Finally, everything leads to one question: why should the retail industry care about omnichannel?
We’ll let the numbers to the talk: 7% of 46,000 shoppers said that they shop exclusively online, 20% of them are store-only shoppers, while, finally, 73% of them moved across multiple channels.
On the other side, just by selling your products on multiple channels won’t create an omnichannel experience and it can be quite confusing to know whether or not your business is omnichannel....
Let’s take a few moments and try to clarify some details regarding this concept and then discuss some of the changes brick and mortar stores need to make in order to make omnichannel happen, shall we?
Omnichannel shopping - Could it become a thing?
If we had to describe omnichannel using just two words, our choices would be “consistent” and “unique”. In the end, it’s all about allowing customers to purchase wherever they are, while communicating using a way that is in tune with why they use a specific channel. And, of course, at the same time, showing awareness of their stage in the overall customer lifecycle.
We believe that one of the main reasons why the omnichannel user journey is ridiculously valuable is because it leverages information about one sales channel, then invites the customer to take part in another. This leads to a set of actions that feel native to that channel, instead of forced or completely unnatural.
And the idea is actually really simple: if done well, this entire process helps buyers make a seamless transition from one channel to the next, thus falling deeper into the brand experience.
Why people are still sticking to in-store purchases
Online shopping has become insanely popular over the past few years, but, no matter what, a big amount of consumers still buy in-store. And it’s not that difficult to guess why!
In the United States, as well as many other countries, it’s the ability to touch or try on items before paying for it which makes people shop at brick-and-mortar stores. What’s even more interesting is that the number of Baby Boomers citing this as a reason to opt for in-store purchases is almost double, compared to Gen Z shoppers.
Finally, Gen Z and Millenials both mention price as one of the main reasons in favor of in-store shopping, while Gen X joins the two previous categories when citing speed and convenience as very important factors for shopping in-store.
With all these factors in mind, brick-and-mortar business owners are all looking forward to seeing how omnichannel will impact their activity in the future. Therefore, we believe we should talk about some of the most important changes they can make in order to stay relevant, in the following minutes!
Use fast and efficient payment checkouts
Fortunately enough, there are several payment solutions a business can use in order to join the “omnichannel retail” club. Still, the idea is simple: customers expect easier methods for checkout, whether we’re talking about online, in-store, or even over the phone purchases.
What’s interesting is that more and more shoppers seem to prefer brands that don’t require billing addresses when shopping online, neither card details and security codes. As a matter of fact, payment options at checkouts, such as Google or Apple Pay, as well as PayPal, have a lot of fans, as it makes shopping easier than ever before.
Pretty much any shopper is after a relationship that makes sense. That’s why everybody will respond very well to an offer that’s specifically tailored for them. And guess what? It’s not exactly impossible to overcome this.
Specifically, brands can leverage all the data they manage to collect through multiple user touchpoints. By combining data about customers’ identities with deep insights, a brand can deliver customized offers and experiences according to each customer’s needs. And when all your channels are interconnected, every customer touchpoint will reinforce the competitive advantage you have, not to mention strengthening the relationship with each and every customer.
Integrating social media
Have you ever noticed those shoppable posts on Instagram and the Shop sections on some Facebook pages? Good, because it means that you’re aware of what could be one of the biggest (and untapped, at the same time, by many businesses) opportunities of the moment.
Of course, we’re talking especially about those brands with visually-oriented audiences, as they are more likely to purchase using social media platforms. Also, this is also a great opportunity for omnichannel retailers to discover new ways of integrating social media content into their websites!
Enhance the point-of-purchase experience
In your omnichannel journey, there’s one thing you shouldn’t overlook, and that’s the in-store shopping experience you offer to your customers. In the end, that’s the closest your shopper is going to be in actually making a purchase. Create a nice POP display and shoppers will probably be enticed to buy the product. Make it outstanding and they will remember your product for a very long time because of the emotional connection you managed to create.
There aren’t many options when it comes to brick and mortar shopper activation, with cardboards, wobblers, special placements and sampling campaigns already worn out. But if you dig a bit deeper, you will find innovative ways to delight customers and to increase customer interaction and shopper engagement. One of them is Tokinomo, a robotic solution that makes products pop out of the shelves, be it a supermarket, pharmacy, gas station, book store or any other brick-and-mortar store that sells relatively small items.
Through its simplicity and creative approach, the Tokinomo robot does one job that other in-store activations and POP solutions failed at: letting the products speak for themselves, allowing them to come to life and literally talk to the consumers and reveal their personality. Moving, dancing, talking or even singing products on the shelves - well that’s something that shoppers are going to remember, don’t you think?
In-store real time-marketing is also a challenge for retailers and brands, since it usually involves a lot of effort in creating branded materials, installing them, hiring people, teaching them what to say and so forth. With Tokinomo, real-time marketing in brick-and-mortar stores can be done in the blink of an eye. Tokinomo gives you access to a remote campaign management platform, where you are able to upload new audio files everyday. Mother’s day? Why not congratulate women who shop in your store? A football game that everyone expected? Invite them to get some beer. Just a regular Friday? Oh, nothing is regular when it comes to a creative brand, so you can get shoppers excited about a pool party, a getaway in the mountains or a Netflix-and-chill evening by highlighting the very products that would enhance their experience, whichever that may be.
We don’t know about you, but there’s something telling us that this won’t be the last time when we’re talking about omnichannel retail, as it looks like a trend that’s here to stay.
In the meantime, you can check out our latest discussion about retail technology trends in 2020, where we’ve also covered omnichannel, and also let us know how do you think it will impact the future of brick-and-mortar businesses!