Omnichannel - The Future of B2C Trade

Four tips by Julia Saswito, Practice Leader Reply Digital Experience, on how you can offer your customers the perfect Customer Experience in a multimodal retail world. Read how you can stop your customers despairing when they try to buy a new armchair and end up buying new shoes.

From a multi-channel strategy

The result of a study: the more channels customers use when buying a product, the more they spend. Expressed concretely in figures, this means that customers who use at least four channels along their customer journey spend an average of 9% more in a store.

The obvious conclusion for retailers and brand owners is to implement a multi-channel strategy. They try to be present on all channels that feel natural to their target group - from catalogues and online stores to various social media offerings. In this scenario, the customer is given the choice of "their" channel in which they feel most comfortable, through a preferanble form of communication and in the last and most important step, the purchase is made. And yet this approach does not go far enough. It does not necessarily lead to the above-mentioned dependence on "more channels equals more turnover".

To an Omnichannel Commerce

The step that retailers must take in order to position themselves for the future is the step towards Omnichannel Commerce. The customer should be offered an all-embracing and continuous customer experience online and offline with the help of all suitable channels. Omnichannel Commerce can thus also be described as a well implemented multichannel approach designed as a continuous experience.

Four tips - How to offer your customers the perfect Customer Experience in a multimodal retail world

Put yourself in your customer's shoes

As a retailer, don't make it your goal to use as many channels as possible, but let the "Think Omnichannel" become your mantra: The potential customer should be offered an all-embracing shopping experience across all channels. Omnichannel is about delivering consistent but unique and contextual brand experiences across multiple customer-centric touchpoints, including traditional solutions, marketplaces, Web sites, mobile devices and social networks.

Today, the focus is still strong on products and brands. But you should get away from that. Focus much more on your customers. Offers that meet potential consumers online and offline should be adapted to their wishes. When searching for a new chair, a customer should always come across offers on his customer journey that are tailored for them which lead to the desired destination, the chair purchase.

And don't forget to make the transformation of your customers from prospects to buyers so entertaining across all channels that you won't lose your customers on their customer journey.

The customer chooses their own channel – it is not necessarily digital

The boundaries between the channels - local, social, mobile, email, physical or instant messaging - disappear when a single view of the customer and a single experience of the trade emerge. Think of Omnichannel as immersing yourself in an all-inclusive sales and marketing pool, as being drawn into the gravitational field of a brand. Even if digital channels seem to be more attractive and future-oriented at a first glance, don't lose sight of the analogue world.

A study conducted by McKinsey Research and Harvard Business Review between 2015 and 2016 with 46,000 shoppers in the USA showed that just 7% shop online. On the other hand, 20% of those surveyed who made their purchases exclusively in stationary retail outlets. The rest, and the majority with 73%, are on several parallel channels. Online is therefore far from having the upper hand.

Be there, create opportunities, invest in details: every interaction changes the customer experience with a product

Somewhere within a customer journey, the crucial service must be provided, the added value that gives the decisive impetus to the purchase. Let's come back to buying chairs, for example: the furniture retailer could provide a Picture Scanner App for magazines as a service - a perfect fusion of digital and analogue channels. If a customer scans the armchair found in a furniture magazine, they can receive direct suggestions via an app where it can be bought locally or online - or there is already the possibility of purchase in the app. If the application also has an augmented reality function, the room to be newly furnished can be recorded and further furnishing ideas can be projected directly into the room.

The advantage of incorporating digital technologies into the purchasing process is the knowledge the salesperson gains about his customers. They make it possible to follow up customer satisfaction in a targeted manner and to retarget: perhaps the customer also needs a side table with his armchair.

The customer will reward these creative approaches. According to a Walker Customer Experience Study, 86% of shoppers are willing to pay more for a good shopping experience. And by 2020, the customer experience itself will outperform the factors of price and product as the primary differentiators of brands.

Data is nothing without understanding and creativity

If we succeed in measuring complete customer experiences with valid data, we could understand even better how the interaction between mobile, online, stationary retail, social media and personal exchange works. The goal for the future is to combine the data collected in-store and out-of-store and translate it into a personalized approach to consumers for retailers.

And yet quantitative data is only one thing. Without knowing why a customer does or doesn't do something - and above all without knowing what he would have liked to do most - in other words, knowing his motives and dreams, you cannot make the right decisions and make the right offers. Quantitative data, for example gained from analysis tools or AB tests, are a good start to gain insight into the behaviour of your customers, but they say nothing about motives. Therefore, only those who know their customers can make the right offers. Ethnographic user research, mobile use labs, customer journey mapping and co-creative workshops with your customers help you to better understand your customers' wishes.