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Are You Behind On This Important Retail Trend?

Posted by Bryan Wang
There is a trend in retail shopping that consumers have latched onto in droves.

This ‘trend’ has staying power and has changed the way consumers shop in the current context.

It is omni-channel shopping and if as a retailer you do not know what it is you definitely want to read on.

Omni-channel shopping entails the consumer using multiple channels – whether it be a mobile device, online stores, visiting brick-and-mortar locations or a Pinterest board – in the process of making a purchase. They may look at pictures of an item on Pinterest and ‘pin’ it to their board, then they may research reviews online, after this they may visit the store to take a look at the physical product and finally they may go to your website on their phone or tablet to make the purchase or worse, buy it from Amazon. This is ‘showrooming’ which is the practice of looking at a product in-store and then buying it for a cheaper price online.

Either way the buying journey has changed.

Whereas previously consumers would rely on the merchant as a source of information and authority on a product they now take it on themselves to research a product and use online reviews from a community of like-minded shoppers. Merchants are no longer trusted to provide accurate and reliable information on their products.

Omni-channel shopping bridges the word of offline and online shopping.

However many retailers have not caught on to the shift to omni-channel shopping by implementing omni-channel retailing.

In a recent survey 59% of retailers admitted that they did not have any plans to implement omni-channel solutions such as shipping from the store and in-store pickup. Similarly 71% of retailers said that they did not have a dedicated position at the corporate level to oversee omni-channel efforts.

Now is a good time to get ahead of the competition, position yourself as a innovator in the retail world and drive increased sales.

You may be wondering how this can be done.

Here are a few ways to pursue omni-channel retailing;

1)    Personalize the shopping experience:

By personalizing the shopping experience for your customers you give them something they are missing when they act as a faceless online shopper. Beyond making them feel welcome, you can also implement a loyalty program through which you get data on their spending habits and shopping preferences. You can then use this information to customize and tailor your customer service to each customer. Loyalty and other programs such as gift, must be usable across every channel. Customers should be able to earn points in any channel, using mobile phone to check balances in store, present their mobile loyalty app at checkout to earn points when buying in store. You can also use a mobile point-of-sale (MPOS) such as Vexilor to have information on inventory and product information at hand letting you provide knowledgeable sales advice right when the customer is making the decision of whether to buy or not.  Also an MPOS doesn't just give your sales reps more information, it allows them to make the in-store checkout process much easier for customers. This combats the chances of the customer abandoning buying in your location and visiting a competitor’s website instead.

2)    Use social media:

Rethink your outreach efforts beyond the traditional advertising methods. Television and radio do not let you interact with your customers as they are one-way communication. Discussion boards, comments sections and online communities and groups allow for customers to interact with each other and you as well. Participate in these forums with helpful information and tips and not only will you generate goodwill but you will encourage potential customers to visit your stores.

3)    Go local:

Target customers who live close to your store locations – they are more likely to come out to your physical store - instead of blindly advertising to all your customers around the world. Location-based apps and social media such as Foursquare and Facebook Place will allow you to market to local potential customers. Consumers who come to your store ‘check-in’ via these services showing on their personal social media feed that they have visited your store, advertising your brand for you. You can offer coupons, event notifications and give information to these particular shoppers. Also note that coupons sent to customer via email should be redeemable on a smart phone. Retailers who still ask for a printout risk creating a negative customer experience. There are secure technological solutions on the market that generate a unique coupon barcode in each email that an advanced POS can scan. This process gives you better tracking data about which customer redeemed their offer, helping you upsell or identify high value customer segments.

4)    Create a seamless experience: 

Retailers who do attempt to implement omni-channel retailing should remember to give customers the seamless experience they expect. This means customers should be able to easily continue the shopping experience in whichever channel they are using to engage with your brand. For example if they start viewing items and adding them to a shopping cart via your mobile app while they are on the go, then they should be able to complete the purchase from their PC when they are at home later on. Also provide more omni-channel options for customer convenience. This means that when a customer orders online and picks it up at their nearest store if the desired color/size/model is unavailable in the brick and mortar location, then customer can still buy it and have it shipped to them free of charge. Also if your in-store checkout process looks difficult (e.g. long lines, having to cart large items to the checkout themselves), there is more incentive for a customer to just order online. And online, you have a lot more competition. Make it easy and simple to order an item from your online store.

Don’t fall behind consumers who are adapting to omni-channel shopping with the tips and info shared in this blog post!

Topics: Point of Sale