It isn’t enough to sell through multiple channels. In order to stay competitive, retailers must provide absolutely consistent experiences everywhere they interact with shoppers. Every interaction is a sales call now.
Consider the amount of options a shopper experiences when purchasing just one item. Think about the amount of media outlets they can source information for that particular product. Or how about the amount of brands offering similar products? Imagine taking all of those similar products from different brands all offering varied experiences, then multiply that by the amount of different interactions a shopper can have with one brand through their website, marketplace, brick-and-mortar shop, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, customer service, etc.
Phew! Exhausting, right?
Shopping is fun, but it can quickly escalate to a very stressful experience if brands are inconsistent in their communication to customers. People like to know what they can expect from a relationship with a retailer. They don’t want surprises in regards to experience and certainly don’t want to jump through hoops to buy an item you have. And although customers may not say it explicitly, they want to know that when they talk to you via Twitter, they’ll experience the same kind of interaction as they would if they walked into your store. It’s a rather difficult task to implement, but with omnichannel selling growing in popularity, there will continue to be a rise in resources for small businesses.
To start, here are the first steps of establishing an omnichannel strategy for your business:
1. Establish a clear understanding of your brand. Before you even think about establishing some type of omnichannel selling strategy, you must first have a strong understanding of your brand. What key message point are important to communicate? What type of experience do you want for your customers? What are the expectations your target audience has when they reach your website, purchase a product, return an item or visit you in-store? How can every interaction be streamlined to accurately reflect your brand?
These questions can be very overwhelming to answer at once, however if you establish a strong brand presence, as you grow your team it will become easier to leverage that brand, creating a consistent experience through all channels. Prioritize your key messaging and be sure everyone on your team thoroughly understands your business goals, how those are accomplished through strategic branding and how their specific role can help carry that branding. These things can be manifested in the form of email marketing campaigns, customer service calls and even up-selling or check-out experiences.
2. Understand your brand evangelists and include them. Leveraging your top buyers are key to understanding how you can create a consistent brand message among your channels, leading to a stronger omnichannel selling strategy. Develop and send out surveys so that you can understand why these particular customers love your product and your business. Uncover some of the most influential pieces of the buying experience and figure out a way to repeat and scale those things. For example, if you speak to a group of repeat customers who all say that they love your email campaigns because it includes tips on how to use your product, figure out other outlets in which you can release that content. Whatever it is, dig deep into why people love you. They’re out there - you just need to understand who they are.
3. Streamline customer data. As an avid shopper, I pride myself on thoroughly researching a product before I purchase it. I’ll browse through Amazon reviews, search for blogger opinions and ask my friends about it. I’ll do everything I can to assure that the chance of returning this product is minimal. (Gah. I hate returning items!)
Customers are arriving to your website or brick-and-mortar shop most informed than ever before. On top of that, their purchasing activity may be incredibly disparate. This is even more of a reason to implement systems that allow you to collect customer data in regards to their purchasing decisions. Any time I come into your store and purchase an item or order online or talk to you on Twitter, you should be tracking and aggregating that information. The easiest way to do this is to collect an email address as often as possible. As your cashiers or sales associates to collect them upon checkout. Make it required when people order online. Collect them, track them, analyze them.
I realize that this is an incredibly big task to take on, so what I would suggest is to just start with your website. Implement a simple email marketing platform like Emma or MailChimp. Then, pull those email addresses into a list. If you can’t handle much more than that, no worries. What you can do is send out a survey asking for customers to update their information so you can get more detailed segmentation.
This is just the beginning of starting your omnichannel selling strategy. Stay tuned for the next steps your business can implement! Have suggestions or ways your business has started an omnichannel selling strategy? Share below or reach out to us on Twitter at @StitchLabs.
I’m Breena, the one who manages both so hopefully your experience reading these posts and interacting on Twitter is consistent. ;)