Consumers in the United States spent more than $89 billion on E-commerce purchases in the last quarter of 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Yet data compiled by nChannel indicates that 94 percent of total retail spending still takes place in brick-and-mortar stores.
The takeaway for E-commerce sellers? You can capture more of your customers’ wallets by delivering an omni-channel experience that caters to online and offline shoppers. Here are ways you can increase sales with an omni-channel selling strategy.
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Understand That Your Most Valuable Customers Are Online and Off
A study by IDC research reveals that customers who buy in store and from an e-commerce site have a 30 percent higher customer lifetime value than those who buy in one channel. E-commerce sellers can capitalize on this potential value by giving customers the option to buy in person, even if only on a temporary basis.
Analyze your website data to understand which geographic locations the majority of your customers reside; consider how you might develop some kind of physical presence to serve them. For example, are there prominent seasonal events your customers attend, local sellers that source products from a variety of merchants, or even community events that allow for “pop-up” shops or mobile tours?
As authors at Shopify report, leading E-commerce brands like menswear brand Bonobos and eyeglass provider Warby Parker both established an omni-channel brand experience with mobile selling tours and “flash appearances” using pop-up shops and bus tours that they promoted on social media.
The lesson for all E-commerce retailers? You don’t have to invest millions of dollars in a retail shop to develop an omni-channel experience that builds your brand. Simply create a consistent brand experience aligned across channels, and know how to meet your most important customers where they are.
Leverage the Power of “Webrooming.”
Many retail experts wondered if the rise of E-commerce meant the end for brick-and-mortar retailers. Now that Google reports more than 70 percent of smartphone users research a product on their smartphones when they’re in store, it’s clear that both channels still offer customer benefits for a simple reason:
Brick-and-mortar retail shops and E-commerce sites now work symbiotically, and make the customer feel in control of the buying experience.
Though all E-commerce sellers should accommodate mobile users to ensure their site is as functional and accessible on a small screen as a desktop computer, the increase of “webrooming” on mobile devices (customers researching products on their phone while in store) presents a new opportunity for E-commerce sellers.
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In fact, E-commerce retailers selling commodity/non-branded products can actually leverage brick-and-mortar retail environments without investing in a storefront. Provided an E-commerce merchant is committed to selling a product at the most competitive price, offers additional value-added benefits like an extended warranty, free shipping and returns, or service agreements that incentivize the customer to order online, the merchant can leverage a brick-and-mortar environment that carries the same product to close the sale.
By explicitly notifying customers who wish to see and feel the product “live” before ordering where they can do so, e-commerce retailers can reduce or eliminate purchase hesitancy, but capture the final order. By recognizing the customer’s need for an omni-channel experience, the E-commerce retailer wins the sale, without having to invest in a storefront.
Adapt to the Perceived Benefits Omni-Channel Offers
Research by Accenture reveals that buyers benefit from an omni-channel environment for a few key reasons: Transparency, a sense of personalization, a broad selection and competitive prices. E-commerce retailers focusing on delivering these important aspects of the omni-channel experience stand to improve customer satisfaction for every buyer, regardless of how they place their order.
E-commerce sites should include real-time inventory data, competitive prices relative to other sellers, suggest additional products the customer might like based on their search and purchase behavior, offer instant access to live help, and provide flexible delivery options, including drop-shipping and expedited delivery.
The more you can deliver on the true benefits customers perceive an omni-channel environment offers, the more successful you’ll be in convincing customers to buy.
Today’s customers are accustomed to choice, and being in control of their shopping experience. E-commerce sellers can leverage the benefits of an omni-channel environment by giving customers a transparent shopping experience that makes them feel empowered and informed, wherever and however they ultimately decide to buy.