How can marketers provide the best cross-channel experience to customers? By becoming omni-channel.
My name’s Felicity Gardiner – you guys all probably know that – and I’m here, as opposed to sat down there enjoying myself, today to talk to you about omnivores. Here are some omnivores. But not just human and animal. Mainly human, I think. I’m here to talk to you today about retail omnivores and how we, as marketeers, need to pander to their needs. How do we do that? By becoming omni-channel specialists.
What is omni-channel? Well, the term “omni-channel” has seemingly become a marketing buzzword, but what does it actually mean?
Omni-channel, as defined by Google, is retail that integrates different methods of shopping available to consumers, bringing online and bricks and mortar together. Essentially, omni, meaning “all”, and channel, meaning “channel”, it’s literal term is “all-channel”; however, to me, as a marketeer, it means a hell of a lot more.
To me, it signifies a shift in how consumers are behaving and how they’re buying. Consumers can now engage with the company in bricks and mortar, online, on the mobile app, through a catalogue, and through social media. What we need to do as marketeers is make sure that this journey is completely seamless, no matter what channel they’re on or what device.
What do this look today? Currently, a lot of businesses are multi-channel – and that’s great – but it’s more of an operational view. Customers can complete transactions on each channel, but not across multiple channels. What we need to do is make sure that you can interact across multiple devices and it’s a seamless journey.
Current figures suggest that within the UK, mobile customers’ share of total purchases will grow by 55% in the next five years, and reach nearly 20 billion within a decade. Yet, even when that becomes a reality, mobile customers will only make up 5% of UK retail because the rest will still happen within the bricks and mortar stores. This is why you need omni-channel; seamlessly connecting users to the things they need and they love. And this is why I’m so passionate about it, because it’s not just about making money, it’s about the customer and providing them with what they need.
This is great and everything, but, as a marketeer, this shift in buying behaviour does mean that we face some problems. We, as digital marketeers, e-commerce managers, retailers, strategists, no matter what vertical, we need to master the skill of engaging shoppers in the new world of cross-device, cross-channel marketing. But why?
This is a buzzword. We’ve already established that, but is this just a trend that’s just going last for a short time, like bageling?
So bageling is a big trend that was spearheaded in Canada, but is huge in Japan. Don’t worry, it’s not permanent! It’s just saline solution injected into your brain, into your head, which then you make a point, to make it a donut. But, anyway, what I’m saying is omni-channel isn’t just a fad. It’s not just something that’s come up, a trend that will go away. We need to take it seriously.
Studies show that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Some more stats. Today, customers use on average almost six touch-points, wherein 15 years ago, it was only two. This is something we really need to consider in the way that we market and advertise to our customers.
Also, customers’ expectations are quite high. I mean, really high. We need to address this. After all, we don’t want to get left behind. Studies show that companies with extremely strong omni-channel customer engagement see a 9.5% year-on-year increase in annual revenue.
Similarly, = omni-channel companies see a 7.5% year-on-year decrease in cost-per-contact. Businesses that adopt omni-channel strategies achieve 91% greater year-on-year customer retention rates compared to businesses that don’t.
Now, if you consider how much money it costs you to gain a customer, that’s actually a pretty impressive stat. Also, you don’t want to end up like these guys [Woolworths]. It’s probably one of the saddest pictures I’ve ever seen of stock imagery.
Okay. I’ve hopefully convinced you that you need to go this way, but how? As mentioned before, the main thing is your customer. You need to become incredibly customer-centric. If anything, you need to take the channel out and put the customer in. It’s all about being the customer.
Omni-channel is viewing the experience through the eyes of the customer. Orchestrating the customer experience through all channels, so that it’s seamless, integrated and consistent. Omni-channel anticipates that customers start in one channel, but then convert in another.
What else does this mean? The messaging needs to be consistent. No matter where you’re interacting with a customer, whatever channel, whatever device, you need to make sure that’s a consistent message throughout. This also builds loyalty. If your brand appears the same throughout all of these different channels, then people are going to trust you more and they’re going to want to invest more.
But this is just one part of loyalty. There’s another section, as well. Omni-channel loyalty allows the retailer to approach customers through a solar system of inter-connected marketing sources where the customer is the epicentre. In order for the strategy to be successful, all of the online, offline journeys that customers experience need to revolve around integration and the customer’s lifestyle.
This then leads on to customisation. You’re following a customer round all these different touch-points and across all these different devices. You know what they’ve put in their basket on their desktop, but you need to make sure that that’s what’s in their basket when they’re on mobile.
You know that they’re looking for a certain product. This may be because they’re going to a friend’s wedding. They want to have a particular occasion wear dress. By customisation, you can see what they’ve already searched for and put in their basket and then supply ads to them, which are relevant to the products they’ve already searched for and already shown an interest in. This, then, obviously, is going massively increase their chances of converting. That personal kind of profile you’ve made for them and targeting the product you’re providing them with, the messaging you’re providing them with is going, obviously, increase conversion. The end goal of this is to make your customers…
However, you need to be careful. I’m not saying that everyone should do this. You need to think about this carefully. Each business is different, and their customers are, as well. There will be differentiating levels of maturity, and you should take this into consideration. It may be that you just need to join the dots. You’ve got your mobile site, you’ve got your website, you’ve got your email. Just make sure that the message is consistent throughout and that it’s an easy customer journey in between each one of those.
Or, you might want to go fully integrated. Everything you do is completely seamless. Someone walks into store and they already the know…The person behind the till already knows what you’ve searched for online, and they come up to you and say: “Yes, we’ve got this in your size. Do you want to try it on? These are some things I think you should try with it.”
Obviously, the different ends of the spectrum all come with different challenges, but some common challenges that I wanted to pull out with going omni-channel are as follows.
Obviously, we want everything to be integrated. We want everything to be as combined and seamless as possible. You need to address organisational silos. This happens in many organisations, and it’s very common, but you need to make sure you completely break down these barriers. No-one’s out for themselves, but you’re all after the same goal.
Also, the lack of data. Obviously, if you’re following people around all these different channels and through different devices, you need to make sure that that data capture is there. You need to understand what they’ve searched for, where they’ve searched for it. That, then, builds the whole customer journey, so you know what stage they’re at when you target them with certain, different messaging. This isn’t necessarily easy to do.
The next part is technical integration. Where we’re talking about breaking down the barriers between bricks and clicks, if something’s happening online, and you want it to translate in store, that’s a lot of technical integration that’s going happen there. There’s stuff about logistics you need to chat about. It’s not easy. It’s not going to happen overnight. These are all conversations you need to have as a company, as a whole.
Who’s doing it well? Who can we aspire to be in terms of omni-channel?
One of the first examples I want to bring up is Oasis. This is where they have really broken down the barriers of bricks to clicks. You can go in store and if they don’t have an item that you want, in the size you want, then you go to the shop manager, and they have an iPad. They can say: “Right. Okay. I know I can order that for you in a size 10. I can deliver it to your house tomorrow.” You don’t have to give them any information. They order it for you and it’s already done. Sent to your house. You just hand over your card details. Exactly the same as if you were in the store at the same time, but they have your product. That’s absolutely amazing.
Then, there’s also Sephora. Sephora’s have a My Beauty Bag programme. This is a cosmetics retailer, but they make it really, really easy for you to, every time you go in there, remember what product you’ve been given before, how much you like it. You kind of create this whole profile about what beauty products you really enjoyed, which one’s matched you, and, then, complimentary products to that. It kind of, it is your own kind of beauty specialist. So that’s really good.
Then, one of my favourites is Starbucks. Their loyalty and rewards scheme, which is on the app, makes it incredibly easy to top up your rewards every time you buy a coffee, pay on your rewards, and also understand stuff about the new products coming out.
This is a few examples of how you can do it really well. If you feel like you can adopt all of these things, then my main piece of advice is just hurry up and do it.