Consumers and brands are interacting across more channels than ever. Many companies are coming to understand just how beneficial these interactions are – a PWC survey found 71 percent of CEOs consider omnichannel fulfillment a top priority, MarketingProfs wrote. Many of them believe customer engagement rests with the ability to promote similar feelings across all channels. While the retail aspect is still very important, a complete experience is what keeps shoppers coming back.
Unfortunately, despite this focus, consumers report not receiving an omnichannel experience, eMarketer said. It's important for businesses to identify what causes this disconnect and take steps to eliminate it. These tips can help brands focus their multichannel marketing:
Focus on behavior
Markets were formerly broken down by quantifiable aspects such as age and geographical location. Now, MarketingProfs said, they're defined by behavior. Monitoring a customer's actions forces brands to think about shopper intent. If a business understands the reasoning behind a consumer's purchase, comment or method of interaction, they'll be better equipped to serve that customer's needs in the future.
Observing behavior also ensures brands won't miss anything when dealing with a certain demographic. They may hold preconceived notions of elderly shoppers, for example, and will likely overlook vital information concerning these consumers if they don't look at their actions.
Create a consistent experience
A brand's physical store, website and social media profiles should be consistent, letting users know they are all connected to a single business. Branding must be the same across all platforms, as should the ways consumers interact with your company. Use similar imagery, colors and words across each channel, and make sure they're all advertising the same promotions. This is the first step in providing an integrated customer experience.
Make everything available across every channel
If a customer sees an item they want to purchase on your website, they should be able to order through your app or pick it up in stores. Likewise, all products in a retail location should also be on a business's website.
"It is no longer good enough to be able to order something online and pick it up in a store," COO of Digital Prism Advisors Len Gilbert said to CIO.com. "If I am in a store and want five things, three of which are in the store and two are online only, I should be able to order all five in one order, on my phone or at an in-store kiosk. That type of experience gives a retailer with a physical presence a real edge over online only."
This idea extends across all consumer activities, not just purchases. Shoppers must be able to contact your customer service department through email, social media or a form on your website. They should also be able to return items they bought online to a brick-and-mortar location.
Give consumers payment options
Now, there are more ways to pay for a purchase than ever before. Credit and debit cards remain popular in-store options, and Apple Pay and Samsung Pay bring purchasing power to smartphones. Meanwhile, e-commerce retailers have numerous options for receiving online payments.
Part of the omnichannel experience is allowing consumers to purchase an item in any manner they choose. This goes beyond adding checkout to an online store – it means shoppers should be able to buy your merchandise through whatever channel with which they interact. Social media profiles should link to your product pages, and catalogs should have phone numbers or websites viewers can visit. If your business has a mobile app, consumers must be able to shop from it.
This also means brands need to accept a wide variety of payments from consumers. Some shoppers prefer using credit cards, while others would rather paying via direct debit. If customers can't use their preferred method at your store, they'll shop somewhere else.
A consumer's chosen payment method may be more than mere preference. Some solutions are more common in other areas of the world. Offering multiple payment methods ensures your shoppers are able to place an order no matter their location.
Providing an omnichannel experience is the key to increasing engagement and sales. Businesses must focus on all the means via which they interact with consumers, making sure all their needs are served on every platform.
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