Why Omnichannel Might Not Be What You Need

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by Kristin Harripaul

Nearly all (93%) of marketers state that customer experience or customer engagement is one of their top-three priorities (Oracle). To check it off their list, many have turned to the much heralded: Omnichannel Strategy. But, to what end? Unfortunately, many fail, because rather than focus on the customer experience (CX) along the entire path to purchase, their omnichannel strategies focus too narrowly on selling at each channel and forget the rest of the journey.
 

Beyond Omnichannel

Today successful brands and retailers are taking omnichannel a step further, looking beyond to customer expectations and activities along their entire journey. We call this “omnipresence,” where three seamless phases are working together to form the overall experience: pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase.
When you approach omnichannel strategy by purchase phase, it’s a lot easier to visualize what makes your customers tick:

  • How they make decisions,
  • When/where they interact with your brand, and
  • What makes them happy — before, during and after the sale

 

What Each Purchase Phase Tells You
(and what to do about it)

Omnipresence is about understanding customer needs and expectations at each phase of the customer journey, and then applying that knowledge in a very connected way. Whether customers are in-store, on mobile or elsewhere, and even after the product is at home, CX must be integrated and seamless. Here’s (1) what’s going on in each buying phase and (2) the top-three things you should do in each phase to ensure a connected CX:
 
Pre-Purchase. The phase when consumers are researching and comparing products.

What’s Going On: In this phase, customers may feel overwhelmed by choices. Your goal is to simplify the decision and guide them toward your product. A great deal of homework is going on here, using a wide variety of channels.

    3 Things You Should Do About it:

  1. Leverage Data.

    Gather intel on who, what, when, where and how people are researching. Then use that information to design solutions for specific customer needs and buying preferences. For example, if we know that…

    18-24 year olds are your target audience.
    And, 57% of them are actually going in-store to research products.

    … then you might not want to put all your eggs in the ecommerce bucket. Consider integrating an interactive display or other high-tech solution in store to complement your advertising and ecommerce site to attract these tech-savvy millennial spenders.

  2. Inspire Emotion.

    Emotion is vital during pre-purchase. Consumers may need inspiration; furnish images of how your product could enhance their lives or resources to help narrow the choices. Visual and/or product comparison tools such as social media, targeted ads, in-store interactive displays, buyer’s guides, mobile apps, and testimonials are good picks.

  3. Use Mobile to Merge Channels.

    No matter where the consumer is seeking information, all roads must lead to your brand. Nothing is more effective at doing this than mobile. Make sure your mobile experience (website/apps/offers) brings value to the consumer. Consider this:

    75% of consumers use mobile devices in store to compare prices, take/share product photos, find product information, access social media, read reviews and testimonials, etc.

 

Purchase. This phase is the battleground… the “Zero Moment of Truth,” the point at which shoppers decide whether to choose your brand or another.

What’s Going On: Mobile & online channels continue to be a vital part of your strategy as consumers close in on the purchase. The sale is very close within your reach. Consumers are still researching products right up to this point, both online and in-store.

3 Things You Should Do About it:

  1. Have a strong ecommerce & mobile strategy.

    Today you need more than an online presence; you need a strong mobile strategy. Leverage mobile apps, real-time messages and offers through beacons and digital displays to interact with mobile devices and meet consumers’ needs on-the-spot. Easy access to WIFI and valuable content are critical here.

  2. Rediscover the store “wow” factor.

    Yes, ecommerce is growing, but the opportunity in brick-and-mortar is far from dead:

    94% of all U.S. purchases occur in a physical bricks-and-mortar store (U.S. Census Bureau)

    Whether it’s the ability to touch and test products or gain expert advice from sales associates from kiosks, find out why the physical store positively impacts your consumers, how it helps move them along the buying process and what the unique “wow” is that cannot be replicated in the online world.

  3. Be consistent.

    Complement your in-store mobile strategy with responsive websites and online assets. Branded social media and integrated in-store marketing effectively connect online experiences with the in-store experience during the purchase, making it easy for customers to research, buy and control what they see.

 
Post-Purchase. The phase after the sale, when omnichannel strategies often fail to take advantage of opportunities for future business and improved brand perception.

What’s Going On: This is the prime time to build customer loyalty, positive sentiment and word-of-mouth referrals. It’s your chance to evaluate your marketing efforts and how customer interactions after the sale will impact CX in the long run.

3 Things You Should Do About it:

  1. Offer Post-Purchase Resources.

    A transaction does not end with the purchase. After that customer arrives home, what tools and resources have you put in place to help them use your products effectively? Offering quick and simple installation videos and customer service support online, via telephone and even through social media is key to continuing a positive experience with brand.

  2. Followup with Customers.

    How do they feel about the purchase; will they buy again or influence others, for better or worse? Are you dealing with issues and providing solid post-sale support? Content marketing to nurture your customers post-purchase with ideas and other valuable information is crucial to customer relationship building.

  3. Close gaps.

    Analyze your marketing investment. Are you testing the effectiveness of your post-purchase initiatives on actual sales (both past and future)? Analytics will tell you where to invest, and where NOT to invest. Use what you know to close gaps in brand perception, improve overall CX, and build long-term relationships that sustain interest in your brand long after the transaction.

 
Bottom line,
Don’t just be in many places for your consumers; Be everywhere for them. Be omnipresent. Moving forward, the most successful brands and retailers will be those that execute omnichannel strategies around a tightly linked customer journey. You can strengthen your omnichannel strategy by knowing what’s going on across the pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase phases, and applying what you know in an omnipresent way. So that your brand remains everywhere for consumers, exactly when and where they seek solutions.

In what ways can an omnipresence strategy improve your shopping experience?

 


 

Image Credit: ©iStock.com/ studiogstock

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