5 Ways to Create an Omni-Channel Shopping Experience

Business.com / Sales / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Creating an omni-channel experience is important, but what exactly is it? And how can you do it? Get started with these how-to's.

Did you know that 60 percent of consumers expect a consistent experience when dealing with brands online, in-store or by phone?

In the world of retail customers expect a lot, and rightly so.

They're choosing to spend their hard earned cash with you, so in return you should be able to provide them with a great product and a consistent service.

But aligning every channel that you own is not as easy as it sounds, which is why it's important that retailers have a clear and focused omni-channel strategy.

Related Article: The Essential Checklist: Must Do's When Starting an E-commerce Website

What's Omni-Channel?

The idea behind omni-channel is that every channel you own, whether it's online, mobile, or in-store, should be consistent with the same message. So, whether your customers receive an email, look at your social page, or walk into your retail store, they will be able to tell that they are communicating with your brand.

Take a look at these five key ways that you can create a consistent omni-channel experience for your customers...

1. Align Your Brand

Your first stop should be to take a look at your branding. Does it have the same look and feel in your stores as it does on your website?

If a customer receives a marketing email, will they be able to tell it's from you without seeing the logo? You need to ensure that you have an established brand voice, and that it's aligned across your email campaigns, social platforms, ads, your online store and in your retail stores.

Create a set of brand guidelines to work to so that every person that works for you understands your brand voice and core values.

2. Adopt Click and Collect

Click and collect has fast become a favored choice for many customers, and it's one of the best ways to align your online store with your retail store.

It works well because it gives customers the best of both worlds. They get to reserve a product online any time, any place, and they can conveniently pick it up in person when it suits them.

For example, using the Chipotle app you can place an order from anywhere you like and it will be ready and waiting when you arrive to collect it. You can even save your favorite orders to the app, making future orders quick, convenient and seamless.

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3. Unify Your Refund and Exchange Policy

It's pretty frustrating when you buy something online and you can't take it back to the retail store, especially if you have to pay extra for shipping costs. An integrated buying experience should be included in your strategy so that customers have plenty of options for a refund or exchange.

Not only will this provide a convenient way for customers to buy your product, but it will encourage them to buy your products because they know that if they need to return them, it's hassle free for them to do so.

And considering shipping costs were cited as the number one reason for cart abandonment rate, this is a great way to tackle this problem.

4. Ensure Every Team Works Together

Competition is healthy in sales, so it's hardly surprising that most retailers offer a commission program. But this could mean that employees only care about the sales for that one particular channel.

The problem with this is that 81 percent of customers will research before they buy, so whether it's online or in your store, they may not be quite ready to make a purchase. As a retailer, you need to make sure your staff have the tools needed to point customers to every channel that you own, to help accelerate the sales funnel.

The same applies to your sales promotions. Rather than excluding where the customer can take advantage of that promotion, allow it to be redeemed across every channel. If you're giving them 50 percent off, let customers spend that discount where-ever they please.

5. Provide an Online Experience, in Store

According to Cisco, 48 percent of consumers use a smart phone to help them shop while in-store. The digital world has taken over, yet customers still like to shop in-store, so it makes sense to merge the two together.

Take for example UK fashion retailer, Oasis. They have equipped their retail stores with iPads so that shoppers can find out plenty of product information. If the shop doesn’t have a particular item in stock, the customer can place an order online.

Alternatively, they can use their “Seek & Send” service which allows the retailer to locate other stores that have the product and get it sent to the shopper. The customer will receive an email with all the information, and be notified when their product is on its way.

Takeaway

By implementing small changes such as these, will really help to unify every channel that you own and improve the customers shopping experience.

Related Article: Sell With a Click: Easy Tips for Building Your First Ecommerce Website

But the secret to omni-channel success lies with your employees.

Do they have all the information they need on the latest sales promotion? Do they know your refund policy? Do they know your core brand values? You need to instil this within each and every team, so that you can all work together as one unified company, rather than separate channels.

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