If this month’s Apple Watch launch underlined anything about today’s consumers it’s that they love technology.
Wherever you look, people are blending their online and offline experiences using connected devices – and this is changing the game for the retail sector.
The multichannel movement has created new challenges and opportunities for retailers wanting to capture customer value at every touch point, particularly online.
Over the past 12 months, the enormous increase in mobile retail has led to eCommerce’s importance soaring. Already we’re seeing promotional events such as Black Friday become a global retail phenomenon. In fact, according to a recent report by Dunnhumby, 20% of total growth in established markets will come from online shopping in the next 5 years.
However, it’s important to remember that online shopping is only half the story. There are very few consumers who shop exclusively through the internet. Whether the final sale is attributed to eCommerce or the store, it is likely that the buyer has interacted with the retailer across both channels, using multiple devices, on their journey to purchase.
What does this multichannel movement mean for retailers?
Most importantly, the rise of multichannel has created a compulsion to offer consumers a seamless journey however they shop. Desktop, mobile and store shopping can no longer be treated as separate entities; they are part of the same customer journey, and therefore a common brand identity and product availability must exist throughout.
For retailer eCommerce platforms in particular, this means optimising websites for use on all devices. The importance of responsive content will increase further next month when Google updates its search engine criteria to prioritise mobile optimised websites – highlighting that consumers must be able to find and view content easily, and purchase quickly, even on small screen.
It also means that the digital journey must be firmly integrated with offline activities. One of the greatest challenges for today’s retailers is integrating bricks and mortar into the multichannel experience.
More often than not, shoppers enter a store with some level of knowledge from online research. This last point in the journey involves seeing and trying the item at the shelf edge, and asking final, detailed questions that perhaps can’t be addressed online.
Equipping customer service personnel with Mobile POS technology linked to back-end systems provides access to this depth of knowledge. It also enables staff to pull up recent orders or abandoned purchases, to continue shoppers’ online journeys in the store.
How can retailers best serve multichannel shoppers?
There’s no doubting that multichannel shopping is a complicated world, with many technology solutions available to address these complexities. The key for retailers is to implement systems that enable them to flexibly serve and customise experiences for shoppers in all channels.
Good news is on the horizon for those that achieve this agility – as the Dunnhumby report notes, multichannel customers are worth 30-67% more on average than those who shop in a single channel. It seems the multichannel movement is packed with shoppers who are hard to negotiate to the checkout, but who reward great experiences richly once they get there.