More than 2/3 of shoppers are now considered omnichannel consumers, according to Omnichannel Retail by Deloitte Consulting. To persuade those shoppers to choose and stay with your brand, you need to deliver a consistent experience across all sales and marketing channels: online, in stores, or on mobile.
Retail giants are putting a lot of effort into completing their omnichannel system. But small and medium businesses can get in on the game too, even with smaller budgets.
This is the key to creating an effective omnichannel strategy. You can create a simple survey asking your existing and potential customers about their shopping preferences (you can offer a discount to encourage them to take part in the survey). You might ask how they discover your brand, learn about your new products (search or social media or reference, etc.), or which items they often buy in person rather than online.
You can rely on the reports to understand your customers as well. You should track how customers are interacting with your business, online and in-store. For online, you can use Google Analytics and for in-store, you can count on the reports of the POS system.
Online: you can track things like the pages that get the most visitors and best conversion rate, reactions to changes in your product offerings, results from marketing campaigns, sales by device (mobile versus desktop), and your social media conversion metrics.
In store: you can track new versus returning customers, as well as their buying patterns. What time of day are most purchases made? What is the frequency of purchases?
Combining both online and in-store data in one place, you can get a 360-degree view of the factors that influence your customer behavior. Such insights help you know where you should focus your efforts to maximize the profit. For example, if most of customers say they learn about new products via Instagram and they like learning more about clothes mix and match, you know that you should spend energy on creating impressive mix-and-match albums and photos to share with your audience on Instagram.
More and more customers are doing their own product research while they’re in brick-and-mortar stores. Forrester Research and RetailMeNot found that 84% consumers access the internet from their mobile devices while in a store, and 65% use their smartphones to find coupons online.
You can offer free in-store Wi-Fi to help these customers access to information they need along their buying journey. Consider integrating QR codes that link to product information online if you want to make it even easier for them to search.
Bringing digital world into your brick-and-mortar stores can be an interesting experience to customers and enhance your brand image. You can organize a competition on Facebook and Instagram where customers are encouraged to take photos of what they bought and review it to win a prize. Your product tags can have QR codes for customers to scan and read the product information and reviews, or you can even have screens that showcase a live social media feed related to your products or industry.
If you want to educate, engage customers and instill trust as an expert, then content is king. The more compelling content you can create, the more you’ll be likely to sell. Small businesses may have some advantages here because you’re likely to have loads of expertise about your products and industry as a homegrown business owner.
Digitally, content can take many forms: blog posts, guides, customer reviews, and especially video. Video content is not only engaging but also helps with SEO and performs well on social media. You can create explainer videos for your products or launch a video series of tutorials that showcase your area of expertise. At your store, you can offer tutorials and workshops.
From the insights we mentioned above, if you discover new places that your customers are browsing and shopping, you should be there. Most customers go through many online and offline touchpoints to purchase a product — for example, social media, online marketplaces (like Amazon and Etsy), your own website, review sites — so make sure you are selling and marketing your business wherever your customers are.
However, as 90% shoppers expect their experience to be consistent across all channels and devices, remember to keep the experience consistent by providing similar branding and pricing when you increase the number of your sales channels.
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