You’ve got a thriving online site and you’ve started opening brick-and-mortar stores, so the hard work of “going omnichannel” is done, right?
Yes and no. Although the launch of these two retail channels is a huge achievement (Congrats!), it doesn’t mean you’re done. There’s more work to do to deliver the type of customer-centric retail experience that will satisfy the demands of today’s shoppers and bring growing ROI for your brand.
Omnichannel retail involves much more than managing multiple shopping channels to serve your customers. To truly unite your online, in-store, and backoffice activity, you need to break down the barriers between these parts of your company to provide both visibility and accountability.
Wondering how you can make that happen? Here are some key components you’ll need to implement internally to align your operations—and your teams—with a fully unified customer experience.
Complete Customer Histories in Every Channel
Incomplete customer shopping histories are annoying to customers and a headache for your retail teams. Thanks to Enterprise retail making it commonplace, customers now expect both themselves and your teams to have visibility into all of their transactions and be able to reference them easily.
Generating quality online shopping histories is no problem because every customer has to give you info to receive their order. But getting useful in-store shopping data requires your teams to either search and assign an existing customer or capture a new customer’s first name, last name, and email during checkout. Getting your retail team comfortable with asking for this info can be tough, but it can also be a game changer for your business. The fact is, your data has little value without the customer to tie it together. With the customer assigned, you have the key elements you need to drive insights, sales growth, and retention.
Complete shopping histories can be used to improve customer service and drive personalization in many different forms, including size or style suggestions from a sales associate and automated recommendations on your online site. They are also a great driver for collecting product reviews. Most importantly, they help you understand who your customers are and find more customers like them.
Bringing together shopper activity across channels (and then making it visible in each channel) is where the real magic comes in. Understanding where your customers shop will help you earn up to 30 percent more sales and reach an average customer retention rate as high as 89 percent.
Integrated Omnichannel Analytics
Retail analytics software has limited value when it is restricted to only one shopping channel or one part of the company. Getting the complete picture across channels and departments is just as critical for your product and sales reporting as it is for your customer histories. And being able to compare the performance of different channels through the same lens is an absolute must.
When online and in-store data is reported separately or analytics are only available to upper management, this causes huge blind spots and missed opportunities. An integrated omnichannel analytics solution will give you a more comprehensive view of your data to help you make better marketing and planning decisions. Sharing common data trends across departments and channels will also increase understanding of customer and inventory activity across the company. These insights can help guide performance management and fine-tune backoffice processes such as shipping management, online and in-store returns and exchanges, and product lifecycle management.
By investing in comprehensive analytics and reporting, you can better align your teams and understand your operations.
Seamless Communication for Customer and Brand
Most customers don’t see channels; they just see your brand. Sure, they assume all their transaction history is available, but they also expect your teams to know about their relationship with your brand. Chats, calls, emails, social media interaction, and even store visits are part of this brand relationship.
When you’re just starting out, it’s a little easier to know your customers. You probably get the chance to interact with them directly fairly often. You might even be close with some of them. Their direct feedback can really help a new business be successful. But as you scale, being responsive and living up to your part of the relationship can be a massive challenge.
Luckily, there are now customer service platforms that help track and manage omnichannel communication, so you can build and maintain better relationships. Some solutions will even include purchase history in their customer profiles. With a system like this in place, everyone in your company can provide informed customer service that recognizes the details of the customers’ previous experiences, regardless of which channel was engaged. Your team can even add their own reflections or share their own opinions to provide insight.
When you improve the speed, accuracy, and ease of communication between store associates, Ecommerce employees, and other people involved in your business, you’re able to take better control of the voice and messaging of your business.
The more you invest in digital tools to improve your customer experience, the more security should be a concern. Given the connected nature of omnichannel retail, any security breach could be catastrophic for a business, so the need to upgrade your security is more pressing now than ever.
Implementing end-to-end security practices is an easy way to increase accountability and protect physical and digital environments from being vulnerable to a breach. Of course, every app you use should follow security best practices, and your payments hardware should be encrypted at the point of swipe/insertion. But frankly, the simplest and probably the most effective way to improve security is to implement unique user accounts, roles, and permissions.
Many retailers share login information between staff members, sometimes even at the store level. Shared logins expose a dangerous amount of data to unauthorized employees or data thieves. Shared logins also allow for a lack of accountability and traceability if a data breach, accounting error, or other misuse of technology takes place at your business.
The use of user roles and permissions guarantees that each employee only has access to the information they need to do their job and ensures accountability if and when something goes wrong.
The more you can unify your online, in-store, and backoffice processes, the better your customer experience will be. When activities and information are disconnected from one another, it comes through in the final product, and your customers are left holding the bag—and not in a good way.
Give those customers the easy, intuitive shopping experience they want. It starts with investing in the right retail tools to provide the same shopping experience regardless of when, how, and where your customers shop.