A decade ago, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers entered ecommerce stratosphere adding transactional websites, becoming “multichannel” retailers. Often the online “channel” operated as a separate unit within the business with its own IT systems, even with a separate P&L. At that time was even very common to outsource ecommerce completely to a third party operating it independently. Online and in-store customer experiences were totally disconnected.
Back in 2015, having a e-commerce website it’s not an option, it’s an expectation. And having a mobile-friendly website is not fancy, it’s just an expected complementary in-store shopping aid.
Nowadays most business e-commerce operations are interconnected with every other business unit and IT system and offer a true notable continuous shopping experience. There ain’t different business unit going after the same customer through diverging selling channels, and the customer investment of time in research (both offline and online) is not fragmented across visits to physical shops and online browsing questing for information (maybe in shop from their smartphone). Or at least it should not be fragmented.
The purchasing process should be a smooth experience where the business offer a continuity of integrated and interconnected touch points, from the evening when the potential customer browse the web for information from home, to the brand website where he inquire for answers, to the brick and mortar where he physically touch the product to the place of final purchase. On every channel, every touch, and all the data, in a unique integrated experience, that’s omni-channel.
Omnichannel mean supporting the customer shopping needs and preferences, wherever he is, through whatever device, providing a personalized experience.
According to 2014 Insights report from SapientNitro, 53% of consumers prefer shopping in-store vs other channels. 81% of these shoppers want to interact with their phones in-store, and 61% are going to use “any device” (PC, smartphone or tablet) to progress through the shopping process.
In another study, Accenture found 73% of North American consumers have show-roomed at least once in the last 6 months, and 49% think integration of stores with online and mobile touchpoints is where retailers need to improve the shopping experience most.
Most of the shopping experience occurs in multi-brand store. Once you have identified your options to buy a coat browsing online different brands websites, you may head for a multi-brand store to see that coat live and try the fitting.
Yes it’s great to track visitors across web and physical world, it’s fantastic to know already what he likes, what he is interested in, what prices range he have been exploring… wherever he is.
The consumer investment of time in research offline and online is not only fragmented but span across different brands. The vast majority of the population likes to browse and compare to see what else is out there, and there our omnichannel experience crumbles.
It’s nothing new, for decades online marketing focused on tracking users behavior across different properties.
Sharing data across brands and retailers and channels, would solve that. When brands think customer experience they need to think omni. Its not about your customers or their customers, its about all customers.
Brands loyalty is not built with fences, is built with love, with dialogue, through social media and CRM. With the rise of beacon devices if a brand wants to start thinking omnichannel, then they need to be open and involved in making the customer’s experience continuous and universal.
Sharing data that can be used universally on devices bring a whole new set of opportunities. It’s facebook mantra of a social graph brought to the next level.
Will it happen, will brand share this precious data across them and retailers?