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GUEST COMMENT The best omnichannel retail experience is an invisible one

A multichannel strategy is key to retail success – but how do you get there?

A multichannel strategy is key to retail success – but how do you get there?

Have you ordered pizza from Dominos recently? If you have, it’s unlikely that you called the nearby store on the phone to place your order. Online sales in the UK, which includes practically every digital platform imaginable, were up 14.5% year-on-year, representing 77% of all system sales.

Once you have an account established with Dominos, you can place an order through their mobile app, Facebook Messenger and Amazon’s Alexa – just to name a few. Perhaps as impressive as their mission to leave no device without the ability to order pizza is how, no matter what platform is used, the experience is consistent and on brand. 

Retailers should be taking notes

In today’s shopping environment, customers expect consistent brand interactions across all channels and yet some companies have no cross-channel strategy in place. With more ways to shop than ever before, the challenge continues to grow as the devices in our lives change and multiply.

Each marketing channel has its own set of advantages and disadvantages when planning a retail marketing strategy. Our challenge as marketers is to blend these multiple marketing channels together, so the whole experience is greater than the sum of its parts and invisible to the consumer. This extends beyond the traditional marketing channels into customer support and supply chain management as well. When carefully and strategically added together, these multiple customer touchpoints create a true omnichannel retail experience that adds long-term value.

Consider this scenario

Jamie sees a promotion on social media from a sporting goods store for 20% off a certain brand of trainers. Unfortunately, the blue colour she wants is sold out online. Through the website, she is able to see that the blue shoes she wants are in stock at her local shopping centre. Great! She drives to the store and at checkout, she mentions the 20% off coupon she saw on social media. The in-store retail assistant quickly looks up the promotional offer and applies the discount in-store.

In this situation, the multiple channels are so well blended that the lines between each are no longer felt by the shopper. The buyer’s journey seamlessly weaves across the brand’s social media, website, retail store, finishing with the original offer on social media being used in-store. The stitching that creates this omnichannel experience is well-integrated data working across platforms.

End-to-end data integration from the supply chain into the shopping experience is a key part of creating an omnichannel experience. If we look back at the example situation, we can see where data leads the buyer into each phase of the purchase path. The social media promotion data transfers to the website upon the click-through. When the blue colour is sold out, the inventory data is integrated into the website to show brick-and-mortar supply online. And finally, when the shopper mentions the promotion to the retail assistant, he is able to easily look up the offer and apply it in-store.

The value of creating an omnichannel retail experience goes beyond the one-time sale. According to research conducted by MediaOcean, 53%of all UK adults now media multi-task on a weekly basis with the average user spending a total of seven hours a day consuming media. As a result, businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies achieve greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to businesses that do not. A unified brand experience across marketing channels is quickly becoming an expectation of the modern consumer. Their loyalty depends on it.

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