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MultiChannel Merchant

Many retailers are wary of the omnichannel consumer. How do you capture the attention – and purchases – of mobile savvy, price sensitive consumers who jump from their laptop, to tablet, to smartphone, to the store and back again?

The answer is, instead of fearing the omnichannel consumer; retailers should embrace them to deliver the type of shopping experience they want. Ignoring or fearing omnichannel shoppers will only result in lost sales. For example, more retailers like Restoration Hardware are starting to embrace the concept of showrooming.

The company recently decreased its number of stores and has transitioned those existing stores into showrooms.

So, just what is an omnichannel consumer? These consumers shop seamlessly across the web, mobile, in-store, beyond. They engage in “showrooming”— visiting stores to look at products in person, then returning home to buy them on the web at a cheaper price on a competitor’s website. (Whether retailers like it or not, showrooming shows no signs of slowing down; by 2020, half of consumers worldwide expect brick-and-mortar stores to serve solely as showrooms).

Omnichannel consumers are also avid price-checkers. Some 52% of mobile phone users rely on their phones to look up prices while in-store, doing quick searches to find items at cheaper prices online or at another store.

Smart retailers know they must do whatever it takes to connect with customers where they are, anytime and anywhere – and also continually solicit their feedback to improve the shopping experience.
So what can retailers do to engage these on-the-move bargain-seekers? Here are three tips to deliver a better shopping experience to today’s omnichannel consumers.

Break down the walls between online and in-store. The majority of shoppers start their purchase journey online today – searching for products that match their needs at the lowest possible price. Make sure your website delivers all the information they are looking for in an easy-to-find fashion, and offer services like in-store pickup to encourage store visits. Then, when shoppers arrive in store, make a strong connection between their previous website visit and their in-store experience; include signage with messages such as “we match online prices.”

The key to success in omnichannel retailing is to understand the new role of the store; it’s no longer the end point to make purchases, but a part of a multichannel purchase and brand experience. Make sure your store associates are well prepared to deal with omnichannel shoppers. Arm sales staff with iPads or tablets to show shoppers items available only online, and offer to ring them up right away. And encourage sales associates to re-route customers to your website to save sales. Our research shows that when in-store sales staff encourage shoppers to visit their website during or after a store visit, 52% of these shoppers spend over $100 in store, compared to just 45% of shoppers who are not encouraged to visit the store’s website.

Reach out to the non-buyers. Pay attention to shoppers who leave your store without making a purchase. Many of these shoppers may be mobile price-checkers; they arrive in store to look at products, but find them cheaper online or at another store using their mobile devices. The only way to find out why these shoppers did not make a purchase is to ask them; and the only way to do that is to solicit their honest feedback.

Include signage throughout the store and at exits asking customers for their feedback. Your signs might say “What are we doing right? What are we doing wrong? Let us know!” and include a scannable barcode and a URL that takes customers to simple dialogue box where they can enter free-form feedback. You can also place feedback kiosks and tablets throughout your store asking people to leave their feedback, and give sales staff tablets so they can ask shoppers to fill out quick in-store surveys – perhaps in return for a small coupon.

If you only include a URL on the bottom of sales receipts asking customers to take surveys in return for a discount, you’ll only get feedback from buyers. This means you’re only finding out some of the things you’re doing right for buyers, but none of the things you’re doing wrong for non-buyers. The latter is much more valuable when it comes to increasing sales in an omnichannel world.

Measure the right metrics. Your old sales metrics won’t cut it in an omnichannel world. Now, instead of just measuring store sales, for example, you need to measure the “store experience.” And as consumers move between channels, marketers must understand why consumers are using each channel, and what they hope to accomplish each step along the way. Since consumers use mobile devices to research in-store, visit stores to showroom, and often visit multiple websites before making a purchase, “last-touch” conversion figures no longer provide a clear picture of marketing effectiveness.

The best way to measure omnichannel metrics is to ask consumers for their honest feedback, and then analyze their natural language and survey responses to find patterns. Other key components to consider for measurement and reporting include: The alignment of metrics across channels; Leveraging a single reporting and metrics dashboard to give visibility into omnichannel performance; Customer journey mapping; Multi-touch attribution; Action prioritization; Driving change at the location level.

The bottom line is omnichannel consumers are here to stay. Instead of fearing them, listen to them. Ask for their honest feedback and make changes to your website, mobile, and store experiences based on their wants and needs. Train in-store sales staff to leverage your website and mobile apps, and start building more bridges between your online, mobile and in-store marketing teams.

If you don’t reach out to omnichannel consumers, they won’t come back. Our research shows that 66% of online-only shoppers would go back to a retailer after having a negative experience with them, but only 55% of multi-channel shoppers would. Omnichannel shoppers are more demanding, but they also spend more and more often – so give them the high quality shopping experience they want.

Jonathan Levitt is Chief Marketing Officer at OpinionLab.

This article can be found here.

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