Covid-19 has profoundly changed consumer shopping habits – for good. However, according to a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit and SAP, after the current pandemic-induced spike we can expect a decrease in online shopping in the period from June to August 2021 when restrictions are removed; from 51% to 39% for Baby Boomers, and 52% to 46% for Millennials.
Without significant efforts like an omnichannel approach to retain consumers who are currently shopping online, retailers risk a sharp decline in online spending. By the same token, traditional brick-and-mortar brands have an opportunity to seize back some of the revenue that they’ve lost over the past 15 months.
With most retailers adopting an omnichannel approach combining a number of channels to generate sales (web, mobile, email, social, online marketplaces, in-store…), their success will be based on carefully balancing the risk and opportunity when it comes to investing in different channels. So, how can they maximize revenue and minimize risk amid current uncertainty? We share our top tips.
Also, to know more about the best ways to increase revenue and reduce risk in current times, check out this video which talks about just that:
Avoid herd mentality
Rather than dedicating time and resources to properly researching and understanding their customer base, in our experience retailers often tend to succumb to ‘herd mentality, adopting the latest trend the industry is talking about, particularly when it comes to new social media channels.
Before you decide to set up a new channel, do make sure you thoroughly understand the habits of your customers. Determine which channels they are using, when they are shopping, and what devices they own. Use a simple survey and supplement it with analytics to ensure your decision-making is driven by solid data.
Consider user journeys
Related to the first point above, ensure you really understand the omnichannel customer journey — your customer’s path across multiple channels and touchpoints before completing a purchase, a part of the omnichannel approach. Often, customers will start their journey on mobile devices and — particularly for high-value goods —continue with more in-depth research on desktops or laptops.
Creating a customer journey map for each of your target personas is a useful way to visualize the key channels and touchpoints your customers typically navigate before reaching one of your goals (submitting a contact form, purchasing a product…). It is those channels that you need to optimize for maximum ROI.
Plan for resources
Every channel requires dedicated resources to ensure it is managed and optimized to drive sales. For example, if you are looking to improve product visualization with the help of Augmented Reality (AR), you need to plan for the right skill set to deliver it, including designers and developers. Technology is another area that requires significant investment if you are to develop seamless omnichannel customer experiences as per your omnichannel approach.
Develop a mini business case that maps out people, processes, and technology to determine which channels merit significant investment to enhance experiences, or you will risk wasting resources on touchpoints that don’t yield enough return.
Measure and refine
Covid-19 has been the latest catalyst for major change but we can expect the retail market to remain in flux. Retailers need to continuously review their performance across all channels, and adjust their approach in an agile way, or risk being left behind.
Clear metrics, behavioral tracking, and comprehensive analytics reports are all critical to understanding your omnichannel effectiveness and optimization efforts. They allow you to make small, incremental improvements to continuously refine your customer experiences.
A balanced channel strategy enables retailers to prioritize the channels that have the greatest impact on their customer experiences. It allows them to maximize ROI while reducing the risk of being everything to all people and spreading themselves too thin. Ultimately, such a strategy will result in an effective omnichannel approach that drives customer loyalty and also strengthens your business’s resilience to withstand any future slowdown or crises.
To find out more on how to implement an effective omnichannel strategy for your business, check out this BetterCommerce practical guide.