Omnichannel Retail: Personalizing the Customer Journey Across Channels
The reality for retailers today is that to be successful, omnichannel strategies are no longer an option but a necessity to stay competitive. Consumers want to engage with brands on social media, in a physical store, on an ecommerce site, through a mobile app, via email or through a phone call. And they are demanding a seamless brand experience across channels. Retailers who fail to deliver risk major losses to revenue, diminished brand loyalty, and customer defection.
Many retailers continue to struggle to deliver these connected experiences. According to a new study by Periscope™, a McKinsey Solution, 78% of retailers lack a single brand experience across all channels, and 64% acknowledged that “a well-defined cross or multi-channel strategy” was the top innovation that would drive digital growth.
What are the challenges behind the struggle? Survey respondents stated that the top three challenges included:
- Lack of customer analytics across channels (67%)
- Siloed organization (48%)
- Poor data quality (45%)
For those retailers who have successfully implemented strategies that put the customer at the center of the shopping experience, the payoffs are well worth it. Companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement (Cybra Omnichannel retail Study). According to Hubspot, shoppers who shop both online and in-store have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who use only one channel.
How Consumers Shop Across Channels
Most consumers no longer shop exclusively within one channel. To better understand the current state of omnichannel shopping behaviors, numerous studies have been conducted to shed light on the modern consumer:
- 42% of consumers surveyed said it would be helpful if a physical store knew about the online research they did prior to getting there so they could receive better service. (Forrester)
- 72% of digital shoppers consider in-store experience as the most important channel when making a purchase (invesp)
- Smartphone now influence more than 28% of US retail sales. (invesp)
- 53% of shoppers say convenience is the number one factor they consider before making a purchase. (Mintel)
- Nearly 71% of shoppers cite their smartphone as their most important tool when it comes to doing research about a product or a retailer. (Mintel)
- 64% of customers expect to receive seamless customer service regardless of which channel they are using. (eMarketer)
- 80% of consumers research a product prior to visiting a store. (Forrester)
- Multi-channel consumers spend 82% more per transaction than a customer who only shops in store (Deloitte).
Modern Retail Success Demands a Customer-Centric View
Putting customers at the center of your retail strategies demands a real-time, 360-degree view of your customers’ behaviors. Interacting with customers across multiple channels produces a wealth of data. However these insights need to be cleansed and integrated into a singular customer view to have value.
Overall, data integration remains a challenge, according to a recent Forbes Insights report, Data Elevates the Customer Experience: New Ways of Discovering and Applying Customer insights. Only 36% of executives say they have attained real-time, highly integrated capabilities across all the customer channels within their enterprises. At this point, just half of even the most highly data-driven CX organizations consider themselves to be highly integrated. For the most part, information is managed centrally, as reported by a majority of executives. Only 14% of executives are able to report that their data is structured on a cross-functional, synchronized basis.
However, according to the report, organizations are making progress. “Integration may be a challenge, but the pieces are in place. Many organizations have established the mechanisms needed to achieve the necessary back-end integration to deliver data-driven CX. Executives are pushing to increase the visibility of key data sources to further data-driven CX. Emails are the most often-cited source for such interactions, followed by purchases and transaction history.”
To achieve this real-time customer view, retailers must implement a data management platform or cloud solution to unify fragmented data in real-time. Consumers are constantly producing data about their likes and dislikes, channel preferences, product choices, and more. This behavioral data is fragmented across website visits, email opens, social interactions, forms completed and purchases, and more. By implementing a data management solution, data can continuously be collected from the data ecosystem. Each of these data points are then consolidated into a 360 single customer view by merging identities from multiple devices into one, deduping customer records and enhancing with additional demographic insights.
Personalize Messages Across Channels
A personalized experience delivered across channels greatly impacts what customers purchase and leads to increased brand loyalty. A survey by Infosys found that nearly one-third of consumers wish the shopping experience was more personalized. For consumers that have experienced personalization, 86% said that it influenced what they purchased and 25% stated it significantly impacted their purchase decision. The majority of those surveyed seek personalized coupons (67%), personalized offers and promotions based on previous experiences (62%) and product recommendations based on previous purchases (58%).
For those retailers who offer personalization throughout the purchase journey, the four most commonly cited benefits include:
- 74% – an increase in sales
- 61% – an increase in profits
- 58% – an increases in online traffic
- 55% – an increases in customer loyalty
Currently, email is the dominant digital channel in which retailers are delivering personalized messaging and experiences (PriceWaterhouseCoopers). While 68% of respondents said they use demographic data to personalize, only 41% are able to use customer interaction data and contextual customer data to send hyper-targeted messaging.
While using demographics such as first name and birthdays to personalize messages have value, retailers will need to include personalization based on behaviors in order to really stand out among consumers. The use of marketing technologies to automate customer journeys will become more imperative to uniquely engage with consumers at every stage, based on each individual’s behavior. Campaigns can be created and deployed in based on if customers have visited your website, browsed certain product categories, opened your emails or visited your stores. Messaging systems can also be unified to build customer journey campaigns where messages are sent via different channels based on each customers preferences and behavior.
An omnichannel strategy is critical in delivering the right buying experiences at the right time, regardless of channel. Through the right mix of data, technology, and analytics, retailers can deliver exceptional experiences across the purchase journey to drive new revenue streams, enhance brand loyalty, and maximize customer lifetime value.
To learn more about data driven practices can improve your customer experiences download our free customer experience marketing guide.