OMNICHANNEL STRATEGIES GAIN IMPORTANCE AS COVID-19 PANDEMIC SHIFTS ONLINE SHOPPING INTO A NEW GEAR
The Covid-19 pandemic has driven brands to become increasingly digitized in order to adapt to the consumers’ changing behavior. UAE’s e-commerce sector was issued the highest number of licences in May 2020, according to data from the National Economic Register and witnessed a 300% increase in consumer demand for e-commerce services in the first five months of 2020.
However, having an offline and online presence is not enough in today’s competitive and volatile market. To be successful, businesses specifically retailers need to rethink their marketing strategy. Consumers today are tech-savvy channel agnostics in a constantly expanding world of digital devices, touchpoints, and channels. And although consumer behavior is constantly changing, they all value and insist on personalized experiences along their journey.
Businesses that want to survive the pandemic and come out stronger do not have the choice but to take an omnichannel approach. With a holistic approach, omnichannel orchestration can leverage the most relevant channels and interactions to deliver a seamless experience that reflects the individual customer’s interests, habits, purchasing patterns and more. The point of true omnichannel is to provide a meaningful experience at every stage of a seamless customer journey, not bombarding the customer with generic messaging. Following are four components to creating a customer-friendly omnichannel experience:
Establish a consistent brand experience across channels:
Create a seamless and consistent look and feel (colors, design, messaging) across all channels, so that a customer recognizes the brand and trusts that they’re getting the same secure experience no matter which channel they choose to pay.
Integrate the buying (and returns) experience:
It is no longer good enough to be able to order something online and pick it up in a store. If a customer is in a store and want five items, three of which are in the store and two are online only, he should be able to order all five in one order. That type of experience gives a retailer with a physical presence a real edge over online only.
Have a unified view of inventory:
Brands and retailers require crystal clear visibility into their real-time inventory position, at every store and distribution center. Not having an integrated, common view of inventory leads to stock-outs, disappointed customers and lost sales. Furthermore, with omnichannel you need to make sure that your inventory systems are up-to-date and integrated with each channel. The information needs to be shared in real-time so that appropriate decisions can be made instantly and the customer can see when his or her goods will arrive.
Implement a CRM system that provides a single cross-channel view:
Implement an omnichannel solution for customer service by giving customers multiple options to contact you – email, in-app, facebook messenger, online self-service, phone call to live agent and chat – with no hiccups on the agent side regardless of the channel customers use. Customers expect you to know they are hopping from one channel to the next so making sure to provide a seamless experience across all channels is crucial. Whether interacting online, via mobile, through a call center or in store, systems and associates should all have one uniform view of the customer and their history in order to provide seamless service across all touch points.
As brands leverage opportunities offered by omnichannel marketing and further embrace the technology that unlocks each channel’s capabilities and insights, they will give customers the personal experiences they crave. Although omnichannel can seem overwhelming, the payback in terms of revenues, customer loyalty, and reinforced brand messaging are there for businesses that are willing to make a concentrated effort and make that leap. Omnichannel strategies developed before Covid-19 outbreak may need adjustment, but retailers with strategies in place will enter the recovery phase much more quickly and successfully than retailers without an omnichannel strategy.