Many retailers still struggle to integrate their demand channels & inventory locations effectively and cannot meet customer expectations for faster fulfilment
A well-crafted omnichannel strategy works by synchronising a system's components, like inventory management, order management and logistics management, to get customers what they want, how they want it.
Ecommerce brands should focus on activating all digital touchpoints, including social media, websites, marketing channels and marketplaces, to create a unified ecosystem that engages with customers, improves sales and reduces operational inefficiencies
Flexibility, quickness, and engagement are the three factors that customers demand during their buying journey with a brand. This is especially true today when customers have so many brands and channels to choose from. Therefore, brands and retailers must assess their customer journeys and the experience they deliver at each interaction point.
Consider a traveller exploring new lands with no map to guide him. He has no trails to follow and is investigating the terrain by trial and error. He might run into cliffs, mountains, and other obstacles that can detour him from his original path. Isn’t that horrific? Fortunately, this is why we have GPS and detailed maps to guide our travels today.
However, what journey a customer follows with brands is still a mystery. Customers experience daily friction and roadblocks in their shopping journeys, leading to a loss of sales and revenue. According to a report, around 84% of customers consider the experience with brands to be as important as their products. Therefore, from a business or customer’s point of view, delivering a seamless customer journey across all channels that makes them return is paramount.
What Matters The Most To Customers
Generally, we categorise customer expectations, starting from the buying journey into three categories:
- Flexibility: Customers look for flexibility in choosing sales channels, deliveries and returns in their shopping journey.
- Speed: This calls for brands to have a minimum processing time, quick deliveries, and fast responses.
- Engagement: This includes establishing communication at every step of the customer’s journey, order and delivery statuses, personalised promotions, proactive outreach, query handling and more.
With the rise of ecommerce, we have witnessed a drastic shift in expectations and demand patterns in the last decade. A report by the Harvard Review suggests that more than 73% of shoppers use multiple channels in their shopping journey.
Today, customers interact with brands and retailers through different channels, like websites, in-store, marketplaces, apps and social media. However, many retailers struggle to integrate their demand channels effectively and cannot meet customer expectations.
As per a Deloitte report, 96% of retailers believe customers want seamless journeys. But non-integration of channels results in disjointed customer journeys and a negative customer experience. So, a common question that brands need to answer here is how to deliver consistent and seamless shopping journeys to their customers across all channels.
Creating Sticky Customer Journeys in an Omnichannel Way
With too many options at their disposal, customers today are the designers of their journeys, not brands. Therefore, customer journeys must be looked at holistically, with the brand aiming to help the customer complete each journey as quickly and seamlessly as possible. The end goal of a customer journey shouldn’t just be short-term benefits or to close a sale but instead to increase customer loyalty and stickiness with the brand. For brands to deliver sticky customer journeys that help them make money and grow, they need to go omnichannel.
According to a report by Statista, 67% of global executives consider an omnichannel strategy necessary. Omnichannel works by synchronising an ecommerce system’s components like inventory management, order management and logistics management, to create a unified view of inventory availability along with flexible fulfilment options. In simple terms, an omnichannel strategy establishes a system where information flows seamlessly across all channels, creating seamless customer journeys.
Start Delivering the Right Journey For Each Customer
Delivering customer journeys that benefit the brand and customers requires a few steps. The critical step to achieving the same is keeping customer relationships a top priority. It is essential for brands to keep customers at the centre of their omnichannel strategy, as without customers, there are no sales and no business.
According to the Harvard Business Review, acquiring a new customer is between 5 and 25 times more expensive than keeping an existing one. Therefore, it is necessary for brands to develop a customer-centric approach where brands can communicate with their customers by keeping consistency across channels, keeping communication channels open, and taking prompt corrective measures.
Another way to deliver a seamless customer journey that sticks is to activate all demand channels. Reports suggest that omnichannel marketing increases average order value (AOV) by 13% as compared to single-channel marketing.
Therefore, brands should focus on activating all digital touchpoints, including social media, websites, and marketplaces, to create a unified ecosystem that engages with customers at every step of their journey, improves sales and customer experience, and reduces operational inefficiencies.
Another way to create sticky customer journeys is by redefining the role of stores and transforming them into experience centres. Even in the modern world, retail offline stores are the most preferred method of shopping and act as a direct channel for to interact with customers. According to a Shopify report, 54% of customers like to see the product online but purchase it in-store. Brands must create engaging shopping journeys for their retail stores to provide customers with exceptional experiences and optimise store productivity for better sales and revenue.
Businesses looking to start delivering the right journey for each customer should consider leveraging the latest technologies to help them deliver world-class customer journeys. Brands and retailers must look beyond traditional methods and look for innovative omnichannel solutions for unifying stores, websites, marketplaces, and social commerce designed to meet customers’ needs and expectations.
The quote “The customer is king” has never been more relevant, especially when they have a plethora of options in terms of channels, products, and brands. It is customers who choose to buy whatever they want whenever they want. Therefore, it is imperative for brands to keep the customer experience at the centre of their business.
It is safe to say that omnichannel is the future of retail, as it not only transforms retail stores into experience centres but also allows brands to offer personalised experiences and, at the same time, keeps businesses attuned to the shifting habits of customers. The omnichannel way of doing retail enables brands to deliver seamless customer journeys and presents a win-win situation that helps them thrive.