If you watch shoppers browsing in your retail store, it’s not always easy to tell what they want. They might move from rack to rack and back again, deep in thought — and then decide to purchase something completely different at the last minute. In a broader sense, what shoppers want from omnichannel retail may also be hard for you to decipher.
Paula Da Silva, senior VP of sales for CitiXsys, recently shed some light on this subject in a Retail Touchpoints webinar titled The Digital Disconnect: How To Match Online Convenience In The Store.
Paula Da Silva discussed three things your customers are expecting from omnichannel retail — relevance, convenience, and personalization — explaining that the key to delivering is customer data.
The webinar shared research commissioned by Swirl Networks1 in 2015 that concluded that retailers are missing the mark when it comes to relevant communications and offers to customers. In fact, 79% of consumers stated mobile content and ads are irrelevant, 78% said online content and ads are irrelevant, and 75% said emails and offers sent are irrelevant. In addition, 75% of consumers said sales associates don’t seem to understand shopper’s needs and preferences.Online retailers use technology to track customer’s purchases and the items they view online to create a profile of the customer. Your shoppers expect the same from other retail channels. Of course, the experience will be somewhat different — after all, the customer isn’t sitting in front of a screen filling a virtual cart with items. But you can base communications, offers, and promotions on customer history to ensure their relevance. In addition, your sales associates, armed with tablets and access to customer information, can meet customers in the aisles, provide information on products and pricing, help find out-of-stock items in a warehouse or another location, or suggest comparable replacements.
Customers not only expect relevance, but also personalized service from omnichannel retail. iVend Retail conducted research among 1,000 North American consumers — you can read the findings in the white paper Great Omnichannel Expectations. According to the research, 68% of consumers believe it is important for retailers to have a single view of them as a customer — from online and from in-store shopping histories. Your loyal customers also expect you to recognize them when they enter a physical store — maybe before they even speak to an associate — thanks to the app on their smartphones signaling you they have arrived.They want personalized offers delivered to their smartphones when they get to the store — similar to logging in to an online retail site and being greeted with offers or suggested items. Omnichannel retail solutions can help you deliver relevant offers and content based on each customer’s preferences and purchasing history based on the customer data you collect.
North American consumers — 70%, according to iVend’s research — tend to consider shopping online more convenient than shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. Shoppers have gotten used to researching an item, finding it for the best price, and arranging for delivery — all without leaving their homes.True, there will most likely always be a need for physical retail stores, as nothing can replace seeing, touching, or trying an item on display, and most purchases are made in brick-and-mortar stores.But shoppers may be expecting more. They expect to find the items that, according to your website, are in stock, and they may also be seeking information from a knowledgeable sales associate before making a purchase. How is retail currently meeting these expectations? According to iVend’s research, 24% of North American consumers surveyed agreed with the statement that after shopping online, the store feels like a “let down.”
Da Silva pointed out until there is a single view of the customer — the ultimate goal of the omnichannel retail strategy — there will always be a degree of discontent with the experience in brick-and-mortar stores.
Da Silva stressed customers aren’t loyal to channels. They are loyal to experiences. And you probably already have all the data you need to create those experiences. How can you better utilize your customer data to deliver a more relevance, personalization, and convenience to create the omnichannel retail experience customers really want?
1 Swirl Networks, “New Study Reveals That Traditional Retailers Are Failing to Meet Consumer Desires for “Amazon-like” Personalization,” December 10, 2015, http://www.swirl.com/new-study-reveals-that-traditional-retailers-are-failing-to-meet-consumer-desires-for-amazon-like-personalization/.