Consumer behaviour has been changing drastically over the last decade. In 2017, a digital consumer-owned 3.2 of devices according to Globalwebindex. By 2030, the average consumer would have 15 connected devices. This trend shows that consumers no longer use a single channel to shop but navigate through multiple channels before they purchase a product.
Studies have shown that consumers are open to shopping irrespective of whether they visit an online or physical store. Mobile window browsing, reading product reviews on social media are other ways customers are connected to brands.
“While most consumers expect the ability to shop seamlessly across channels, only 7% of retailers currently provide a complete unified commerce experience by allowing a customer to ‘start the sale anywhere, finish the sale anywhere,’ with another 50% planning to implement it in three years,” said Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practise lead at BRP. (Source: PRWeb)
Retailers have adopted the latest innovations and technology to cater to this ever-changing trend and provide urban shoppers interactive and seamless shopping experience.
With existing customers and potential customers using various modes of communication, retailers need to understand the importance of providing an integrated sales solution.
87% of customers want similar ways to access products and services, regardless if they’re online, on mobile, or in-person at a physical store location – NCR Global Consumer Research
Instead of choosing a seamless shopping experience which is device-specific retailers need to adopt an omnichannel retail strategy. This strategy is an integrated sales and marketing approach that combines all channels of shopping from brick and mortar to mobile to social shopping so that they behave as a single entity. Each channel works as an extension of the other instead of an individual channel. There are still numerous ways consumers connect to a store.
36% of consumers read online reviews, 39% will visit a store’s website while they are inside the store, 33% will attempt to price match a product, and 32% will look up products on Amazon. – Content-stack.
This must be differentiated from a multi-channel approach where retailers are present on all channels such as online, social and mobile to engage with their customers. Omnichannel, on the other hand, integrates all channels. UK retailer, Oasis integrates all their touch-points. Consumers can seamlessly navigate between the brand’s online store, mobile app and brick-and-mortar store.
Customers from Omnichannel purchase 15 to 30% more than multi-channel customers. – Global Retail Insights
Omnichannel customers are more likely to engage with a retailer’s channels, specifically their digital touch-points including mobile applications, coupons, price-checkers, self-serve kiosks – Harvard
Brands and retail stores have successfully implemented an omnichannel strategy from providing an interactive shopping experience to engaging customers. Let us talk about ways retailers can enhance the in-store experience by harnessing an omnichannel strategy.
When customers switch between online and offline channels while browsing for a product in a store, it can lead to an increase in churn rate. Brands such as L’Oreal, IKEA and Nike leverage augmented reality (AR) to prevent the loss of customers by providing a personalized interactive experience.
IKEA has capitalized on this innovative technology to reach out to shoppers with product visualization. Using AR in their IKEA place app, consumers can virtually try out furniture and see what the product will look in their homes. Brands have also used AR to engage with their customers. Customers of Lego can visit AR-powered Kiosks, scan a product they would like to purchase and see the finished product in 3D view.
Buy-online-and-pick-up-in-store or also termed BOPIS is changing retail. This feature enables shoppers to purchase their products online and pick them up from a physical store. According to a consumer study of 2000 US shoppers, 68% opt for Click and buy. This number went up to 73% on Black Friday. 85% of shoppers who went in-store for a pickup purchased additional items. This can be easily integrated by creating a centralized system for all stores instead of separate systems for physical and digital stores. Chipotle does this seamlessly. Customers can place an order online or via the mobile app and have it ready when they reach the store.
Retailers can use digital signage to give shoppers a wealth of information on products and can be used as an engagement tool. Consumers can know more about products with Digital Signage. Detailed product information, offers, and deals can be shown as a replica of an online store or mobile app.
Interactive Kiosks can engage customers by helping them to browse through the store inventory and compare products.
With the adoption of technology for an efficient system, consumers have begun to expect a prompt response from agents. According to Google, search queries with 24/7 customer service increased by 400%. This data shows retailers that they need to upgrade customer support to handle queries which brings us to chatbots. Retailers have implemented chatbots that can follow conversations and queries to make the transaction process interactive and effortless. One example is Starbucks. Customers can order drinks via text which is essentially a chatbot that can mimic the interaction with a barista thus eliminating the long wait line.
An easy and efficient checkout process is an important parameter for the urban shopper today. Retail chains such as Nike have adopted mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) which allows employees carrying the device to process a transaction from anywhere in the store. Providing alternative mobile payment modes such as Apple Pay and PayPal also increases user satisfaction.
Integrating an omnichannel model into an existing retail business model may seem challenging. But when retailers understand their customer’s requirements and expectations along choose the right technology tools and application suite for the business, the shift would show increased revenue, traffic and the best shopping experience for consumers.