Omnichannel strategy: how to take a shopping experience to the next level
Everything, everywhere at the same time... as well as a movie, it could also be the slogan for omnichannel strategies.
The boom in digital experiences during the pandemic had a major impact not only on the public's consumption habits but also on their expectations.
Salesforce data suggests that, despite 66% of consumers saying they plan to increase the amount of shopping they do online, there are still factors they appreciate in brick-and-mortar stores that they are unwilling to give up.
Touching and feeling the merchandise before buying it.
Get the merchandise immediately.
Avoid shipping costs.
Taking advantage of discounts and in-store inventory.
Enjoy the shopping experience.
While this will not decrease their drive to continue purchasing products online for most consumers, the need to keep other channels open and strengthen them is imperative.
Companies today that don't want to be left behind are being asked to have an omnichannel strategy where consumers can move freely and frictionlessly in a unified shopping experience.
To understand a bit more about how to put an omnichannel strategy into action, we put together a series of actions your company can take to get started.
What is an omnichannel strategy?
Omnichannel strategies are an approach to the trade of products, both to consumers and companies, that focuses on providing the customer with a unified shopping experience through various channels, both physical and digital, and from product search to fulfillment.
It is a commercial strategy based on the premise that by integrating different contact points with the customer, value can be added. Basically, the sum of the parts makes the whole (or the value proposition, in this case) more valuable.
However, it is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
For example, retail giant Target has begun to develop several initiatives, particularly focused on how it fulfills its orders via e-commerce. On its website, its customers can make purchases with home delivery (same-day or two-day free) or pick up their items in-store, either from an in-store module or from their cars.
Target's strategy is to connect its online and in-store inventory, assigning the order to the fulfillment center that can fulfill it the fastest. This has helped it optimize its delivery times, as well as build a more comprehensive database.
On the other hand, we have SMEs, many of them pioneers in this sales model. The jewelry brand Pura Vida uses an omnichannel strategy to accompany its customers in a process of transition to fully digital stores... which does not mean that they neglect their face-to-face presence with the customer.
In addition to the follow-up they provide to their customers on their mailing list (providing them with exclusive offers, collection previews, or discounts), they also use this data to alert consumers to activations or pop-ups near their location.
As you can see, omnichannel strategies are a fundamental part of the future of consumer and business operations. Below, we will understand a little more about their future.
Omnichannel experience: customers seek it, companies favor it
For years, consumers have been asking, directly and indirectly, for companies to adopt an omnichannel strategy. According to a McKinsey study, more and more companies are getting the message.
Now, even as the ups and downs caused by the pandemic are settling down, the possibilities are becoming a reality. This can be seen in the fact that few businesses have decided to establish themselves 100% as e-commerce, or to take the opposite stance and go to the streets to offer their products after the confinement is over.
Instead, companies are beginning to provide consumers with the right balance between different sales and distribution channels. And this, of course, triggered a positive response from consumers.
As McKinsey states in the aforementioned study: the global pulse of companies is moving towards the "rule of thirds". That is, faced with the possibilities of a traditional shopping experience (such as in-person), remote (via conference call or phone call), or self-service (e-commerce, for example), consumers globally say they want all three options in equal measure.
As more companies make it easier to implement a shopping experience, satisfaction with this sales model is growing exponentially. For example, 31% of companies surveyed by McKinsey say that their current omnichannel model is much more effective at contacting and serving customers.
In short, what we can see is that, from the companies' point of view, omnichannel strategies are an opportunity to make their work easier and generate higher sales. On the other hand, consumers see this type of approach as an upgrade to their shopping experience.
With this in mind, let's see what aspects a company should be paying special attention to in order to take its omnichannel strategy to the next level.
Surfing the omnichannel: 5 actionable takeaways to reach your full potential
Your retail company may be aiming to optimize its direct sales channels. Or in telecommunications and your next task is to reposition your customer services. You may even be a supplier of energy such as natural gas or solar power.
In all these cases, it is likely that omnichannel has always been present as a possibility to consolidate your main sales channels or strengthen new ones.
According to a study by Deloitte, 30% of the world's population is migrating to online shopping, which has driven up the cost of digital ads. This has led many brands to focus on optimizing their face-to-face sales channels.
Regardless of the direction the market eventually takes and how your business decides to adapt its omnichannel strategy, one thing you can be sure of is that the complexity of implementation will only grow.
Here are 5 very specific actions you can take to make the most of the trends that are currently defining omnichannel.
1. Design a clear vision of your target
In your organization, do you have a clear segmentation that allows you to observe your customers' behaviors at each point of contact? If not, you should invest time in it.
Sometimes, your audience segmentations can be very basic, which limits the business units to orient your value offer. This also makes it difficult for you to pivot the customer journeys of the different channels.
Therefore, it is essential that you have a clear vision of your target consumer, that you build a persona based on qualitative and quantitative research, that you identify from data what your strongest channels are, and so on.
2. Integrate your company's goals into the strategy of each channel
To take the design of your multichannel strategy to its full potential, you must determine the balance between your key metrics: revenue, cost, customer experience, and digitalization. There is nothing better than making available to your team the guidelines that your company will adhere to in the omnichannel world. In other words:
- Do you want to reduce the cost of your operation at the expense of customer experience?
- To what extent are you willing to compromise on revenue and customer experience?
- Are you convinced that you want to offer the best customer experience without skimping on costs?
Questions like these are the ones that lay the foundation for guiding a successful omnichannel strategy. Companies that manage to articulate their business objectives with their sales strategies develop the ability to adjust their targets, journeys, and experiences, among others, to eliminate processes or redundancies in their channels and touch points.
3. Get your data in order to create quality insights
You can only change and fix what you can measure. Your data is a critical piece of information that should not be underestimated, and therefore you cannot afford to omit the order in which it is processed.
Especially when it comes to companies or organizations that are transitioning from a traditional model to a more complex one, involving elements of digital transformation, to adapt them to their omnichannel offering.
This is because more traditional companies tend to have more "old-fashioned" supports that require digitization to integrate into a broader matrix.
However, a good way to start towards a more structured data processing model for omnichannel strategies may well begin by defining a framework and the KPIs against which you will measure your progress.
In this sense, it is important that when establishing them to be realistic and not expect to adapt your data processing systems overnight.
4. Slowly begin the process of strategy maturation
It would be unrealistic to expect a change with a significant impact overnight, especially when dealing with the challenge of implementing a complex strategy such as omnichannel. Deloitte has designed a framework that can help you take orderly steps and allow you to track your objectives.
5. Establish cooperation principles across channels
One of the most pressing issues when implementing an omnichannel strategy is how to organize your team. One suggestion is to start by setting up a group that is not affiliated with a specific channel.
This group would focus on tracking quarterly goals and performance across channels. Important: this is not a group devoted to monitoring the managers of each channel, but a support team that has a much more comprehensive view of the strategy and has the expertise to develop solutions.
The line between the digital and physical worlds is becoming increasingly blurred.
In everyday life, a conversation that starts on a social network can continue almost uninterrupted in a café or restaurant, even on the street.
Today's consumers expect nothing less from their favorite brands. Whether they visit stores, subscribe to a newsletter, or follow the advice of a virtual advisor, they expect their shopping experience to flow seamlessly from start to finish.