A shopping experience where online and offline channels merge seamlessly: for increasingly mobile customers with an ever greater affinity for the Internet, this is almost taken for granted. Whether it be researching special offers, choosing a product or actually shopping, some people prefer a local store while others would rather look online or mix the two if necessary. In order to avoid losing customers to the competition, a retailer’s sales channels must all be linked seamlessly.
Digital cross-channel strategy
Quick results and positive feedback: this is what retailers want – both from employees and customers. They can achieve it by using omnichannel retailing. This is easy for anyone who uses T-Systems’ process know-how and compact starting packages. But what does the term actually mean? Omnichannel retailing describes a retail strategy where consumers are targeted via several different sales channels (stationary, mobile or online) in the best and most consistent way possible.
Integrated shopping concepts as the future of retail
The perfect customer journey – today’s demanding customers expect no less from retailers. And it begins before the customer ever enters a store. In response to changing consumer habits, store-based retailers are increasingly using the Internet and mobile channels as a way of communicating with customers and increasing sales. A study carried out by the market research institute Innofact on behalf of the online marketplace eBay revealed that 60 percent of the multichannel retailers surveyed regard stationary retail as their main source of income and thus their mainstay. However, many of them rely on additional offerings in order to provide better customer service and satisfy increasingly demanding customers. More than half of the retailers offer services such as click & collect or allow goods purchased online to be returned to stores. More than a third of retailers offer showrooming, i.e. exhibiting in stores goods that can be purchased online, while three out of ten retailers allow customers to place online orders in store using screens or QR codes on a product.
Online services when visiting a store
But what services for omnichannel retailing are particularly promising? Using software to provide information regarding availability is one way for retailers to achieve greater customer satisfaction. After all, no one wants to visit a store only to find that their size is not available. With real-time information regarding availability across all sales channels, customers know straight away whether the item they are looking for is available in a store, at the nearest shopping center or in the online shop.
Click & collect is another clever way of enticing online shoppers into stationary stores. Whether it be to try something on or pick up a parcel to save postage fees, this service makes a visit to a local store worthwhile. And retailers can seize the opportunity to remind customers what makes in-store shopping so special: browsing, assistance, the atmosphere and the service.
Even after a purchase has been made, retailers can still score points by offering good customer service. If an item is not 100 percent suitable – and this is often the case with goods ordered online – customers can return it to a store. Ideally, they will then find the right color or size there.
The challenge of providing a cross-channel shopping experience
However, retailers need to do more than simply offering these services individually on a separate basis. Using omnichannel retailing, they need to link various sales and marketing channels in order to gain a standardized view of customers across channels. This is the only way to provide a personalized shopping experience – regardless of the channel used – as a basic component for addressing customers optimally.