A couple of years ago there was an inclination among retailers to build websites and mobile applications to reach out to more of their potential customers. This was followed by some retailers shifting to an online-only presence without having any physical stores since the customer was increasingly going ‘digital’. Running and managing offline stores were seen as expensive and time consuming.
However today, retailers are realizing the need to go ‘omnichannel’. A physical store network is now considered to be as important as an extensive online presence, as retailers have realized the advantages of being present across multiple channels and touching base with customers in different ways.
Omnichannel is all about offering a supreme experience to the customers. Customers today are present on both, offline as well as online channels. The key is to attract the customer to not only make a purchase through the offline store, but also to offer them an option to buy from your online store rather than opting for a marketplace/competitor. Omnichannel strategy will help retailers track behavioral data of a customer to assess their needs and engage them effectively, providing the optimum customer experience.
Being omni-channel allows brands to remain accessible to their customers all day and night. This strategy has resolved the problem for customers who want to shop at odd hours such as 2:00 am. Customer could purchase a product, while browsing through an online catalog whenever they have the time. Having all-round access has made the consumer more curious and has definitely allowed them to peruse through the available products at ease, increasing conversions.
Assistance in informed decision making
Going omni-channel also means readily available access to product information that customers can use to make an informed buying decision. The customers can have access to the right information, whenever and wherever they want. This allows them to compare products and mitigates loss of sale due to the customer not being completely sure of the product or the deal. They can easily make a decision after evaluating all the information on hand.
Loss of Sale Management
Apart from loss of sale due to unavailability of product information, loss of sale may also occur due to unavailability of a particular product or its variant (size, color) in store or online. Being omni-channel means having set procedures to mitigate such lost sales which may cost around 11.7% of a retailer’s annual revenues according to an IHL report. Endless aisle & Offline to Online technologies help customers purchase products present in a physical store while being online or vice versa. This means all products up for sale at a particular time across channels is available for any customer at any channel.
Acquiring new customers
The ultimate goal for any retailer is to acquire new customers while making an attempt to retain the existing ones. Omnichannel enables brands to track customer behavior, their likes, dislikes, channel preferences etc. which helps them understand the customer better, allowing them to acquire and retain customers intelligently through targeted, relevant messaging across channels.
The omnichannel strategy is an arrangement between the retailer and customer, where neither lose and is a win-win situation for both, providing an ultimate customer experience for customers and customer-insights for retailers. It’s no surprise then that today, omnichannel in India is valued at $24 billion, and stands to influence $70 billion in sales by 2019.