The new paradigm of omnichannel retailing has pushed businesses in all retail sectors toward a completely new way of conducting business. Customers and brands now interact anytime and everywhere: mobile browsers, mobile apps, social media networks, PCs, tablets, smartphones, email, in store and at special events.
According to Deloitte Consulting, 78% of shoppers use two or more channels to research and purchase an item, and multi-channel shoppers are worth up to 208% more than one channel shoppers. However, as strong as the comprehensive omnichannel strategy in the modern environment, mobile devices stand above all else in the new context of customer communication.
Mobile is the anchor of the omnichannel strategy because of its versatility in the form of communication as well as its prevalence in the consumer market. Customers can use a mobile device anywhere, and have largely changed their behavior toward the medium when it comes to product information gathering, word-of-mouth interaction with friends and family, finding discounts and even making a purchase.
Mobile’s strength is likely its flexibility as a method in the customer-centric universe. Customers are in greater control of their mobile devices and can better achieve their own shopping destiny because of that control. Options for personalizing mobile devices include the devices themselves, the device software, and any casing or accessories, making for the most fully personalized and customizable form of the brand-customer interaction.
Mobile’s Benefits and Advantages
Retailers have a wide array of potential tactics worth implementing in the mobile arena, including gamification strategies, advanced social media options tailored to mobile devices, contests, and instant in store coupons that increase the likelihood of customers making a purchase.
Mobile helps brands achieve their broadest and most important thematic goals:
Powerful Brand Exposure: Retailers rely on positive experiences with their brand and their brand’s touch points to encourage word of mouth and customer evangelism. Personalizing communication with customers by targeting them in every channel and addressing them on their mobile devices to provide instant gratification makes already fast-travelling news travel even faster via word of mouth and electronic forwarding. Omnichannel messaging also allows for the seamless connection of previously separate media, crafting one cohesive set of messages across multiple channels.
Cohesive Insights: Let’s face it: no one can read their customers’ minds. Omnichannel data collection, however, provides the next best thing. By vigorously collecting and engaging on an ongoing basis, companies can vastly improve the insights gleaned during campaigns and turn that data into something greater than it would be had it been collected in only one channel. The same is true on the communication side of campaigns, where companies often fail to interact across multiple channels, thus missing powerful feedback.
Enhanced Customer Experience: Customers care more about brands that cater to their tastes. Companies that go the extra mile up front will achieve the extra purchase downstream, placing them in a perpetually easier position by allowing them to nurture and reward their way toward far better returns. Omnichannel is the only method available that allows retailers to tailor messages, offers, timing, channel usage and customer demographics simultaneously.
Stronger ROI: The real strength of interacting with customers where they are most active and most available is the potential increase in revenue it creates. Customers that engage and have a better experience are more open to increasing spending.
Benetton – Omnichannel Visionary and Case Study
Brands ahead of the omnichannel curve are already seeing returns, as is evidenced by one of the best known fashion companies in the world.
As part of its effort to encourage loyalty from customers, the company has combined store data with ecommerce info to make one cohesive customer data list. In this way, they can secure a much more powerful understanding of customers and leverage clienteling as a potential approach to sales.
The complete picture of each customer and the broader Benetton fan base presents a new context for classic sales strategies such as upselling, cross-selling, bundling, couponing and other moves meant to serve as a catalyst for more frequent purchases.
The omnichannel approach has already paid dividends for Benetton. Furthermore, it has greatly assisted the retailer in building loyalty with its already dedicated customer base by launching a mobile loyalty program with a 15-second process, something highly unusual for the fashion space. Thinking in every channel has helped the company increase enrollment, adjust offers for stronger ROI, boost engagement and provide a far better customer experience to the brand’s most faithful followers.
The Next Step
The global retail sector has yet to completely move beyond the most traditional retail sales strategies to a dominant customer-centric marketing perspective. Retailers around the world are just now beginning to understand this latest evolution of retail and its implications for the future of campaigns in the industry.
Meanwhile, the tip of the technology curve will continue to find innovative new ways for companies to leverage the already full-speed omnichannel and advanced mobile movement. New technologies such as augmented reality and complex gamification are likely to break down sensory barriers and add new capabilities to marketers’ playbooks.
In the window between now and advances that are to come, omnichannel first adopters will enjoy the rewards they reap from daring to do something different and adapting to what’s next.
Undoubtedly, mobile will continue to evolve, with greater functionality, opportunities for improved personalization and will be a stronger focus for the completely connected customer. But for now, simply embracing all channels and all opportunities within those channels is enough to deliver powerful returns for any company willing to embrace strategic transformation.
Janet Jaiswal is VP of Marketing at Capillary Technologies.