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As Covid-19 continues to impact daily life, both large and small companies have struggled or disappeared. Highstreets across the country have been decimated, with customers forced to abandon their visit “to the shops” and instead go online.

Many, however, including traditional bricks and mortar retailers, have prospered, implementing omnichannel strategies, enabling customers to purchase online, through apps and via mobiles.

Omnichannel is not just for major retailers

The omnichannel approach, however, is not just for major retailers with an up-to-date Product Information Management (PIM) system, delivering through Order Management Systems (OMS) and achieving a return on investment from new revenue.  It’s also for SMEs. Historically though, they have struggled to afford the time, money and resource for implementation, possibly becoming disillusioned with a superficial understanding of it, while focussing on one aspect and ignoring others.

Technology is ever evolving in retail, with the emergence of AI for example, so at BetterCommerce, we have produced an eBook to help SMEs reassess and redeploy their omnichannel strategies or embrace one for the first time.

Creating customer identities

At the heart of any omnichannel strategy are the customer and their needs, rather than the channel, so to minimise any displeasure or frustration with your website, you must consider creating customer identities, to clarify buying habits and create a strategy. This provides a deep understanding of their preferences, including channel, time of day, browsing habits and spend.

Next, get under the customers’ skin, giving them an experience that generates retention and loyalty. Look forensically at your brand experience online and offline, do your research, gather data, analyse potential problems and learn how to rectify them. Using marketing software generates customer personas and when they are clear, get close to them with personalised and appropriate, targeted messages.

Aligning content with the customers’ journey is key. Each is unique and needs individual attention. Get this right and you truly enhance their experience and optimise conversations. But focus. Don’t be “all things to all men.”

You must recognise your customers, their channels, device preferences and what your audience is saying online. Customer service is the cornerstone of omnichannel success. Investment is critical as bad customer service will quickly damage your brand. By harmonising the channels, however, you will drive significant results!

Omnichannel excellence

Beyond customer engagement are the technical elements at the heart of omnichannel excellence, including an order management system (OMS) which is central to fulfilling complex orders, while generating a holistic view of data across systems, including warehouse management and point of purchase. Despite metrics and data being crucial to accurate decision making, nearly half of UK SMEs fail to identify business KPIs, making it difficult to optimise the customer experience.

Businesses can’t implement omnichannel strategies by themselves – you need strong partnerships across operations. Retailers must employ a range of software to control and implement omnichannel strategies, driven by budget, team size and business needs, deciding whether to integrate them or go for an “out of the box” platform solution.

As technology accelerates, customers are demanding quicker and easier services and if you can’t service them, they will quickly go elsewhere. Retailers must up their game, potentially looking at the pick, pack and collect systems or self-return options, which will create goodwill and generate important data.

Deepening your customer insight

Undoubtedly, there are pain points in the journey to omnichannel success, with rapid technology growth and customers demanding ‘anytime, anywhere access’ but by developing deep customer insight and leveraging the right data and acting on it, you can be successful.

Businesses are implementing omnichannel strategies all the time, so it’s vital to keep up with them. By embracing the technologies, having a detailed strategy with measurable KPIs and involving your people, processes and partnerships then you can succeed.

Omnichannel can seem complicated, but you know your business better than anybody. Take it step by step, use educated decisions around your capabilities and execute them to improve your profits and your customers’ experience.

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