In-depth situational analysis and audience insight have been marketing mainstays for decades. Knowing the market and knowing what your customers want is vital to successful marketing strategies. But what if something unforeseen affects your business? What should you do to ensure that your company doesn’t fall apart in unsure times?

You adapt.

The COVID-19 crisis was one of these unforeseen circumstances. So the first thing to consider while planning your goals is to look at the impact of this crisis and how it’s pushing digital transformation, especially in the retail industry.

The situation is changing daily, so you may want to consider the following key points as part of your SWOT analysis:

  • Rapidly changing customer experience and expectations – Businesses in every industry are trying to reduce in-person customer contact. Many are already developing contactless solutions and methods to decrease the risk of losing customers looking for alternatives and more convenient services.
  • Omnichannel retail and digital transformation go hand-in-hand – It’s important to implement and align the digital transformation and omnichannel strategies because customers will want these offerings after the crisis. Doing this will increase customer loyalty and ensure business growth during and after these troubling times.

Your communication plan should resonate with the pain points of segmented target audiences across all channels and work on developing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) solutions that record and analyze user interactions to provide a smooth and custom user-centric experience, whether the customer is in-store or online.

OMNICHANNEL AND MULTICHANNEL

Omnichannel may sound like a buzzword, but it’s actually a complete and rounded approach for customer communication across every channel. While multichannel allows communication through various channels, it doesn’t correlate customer data across channels. The omnichannel approach provides smooth interaction and seamless communication through all channels.

A traditional multichannel retailer might have a website and physical store but traditionally there has been very little interaction between these two when it comes to processes. The main difference compared to omnichannel is the manner in which the customer experience is linked across those channels.

Here’s an example:

A woman walks into a store looking to buy a new tablet computer, but she doesn’t want to touch any of the devices or handle money. The sales associate tells her she can use an app to scan the displayed products, get more info, read user reviews, and so on. She continues browsing and interacting with the app, at which point one of the following scenarios could occur:

  1. She decides which tablet to buy, adds it to the cart, pays in the app and receives a message that the product is waiting for her at the cash register on her way out.
  2. The product is out of stock in that store, but the app informs her that she can buy it now and it will be delivered to her address.
  3. She leaves the store, but goes by it again after a few days. She then receives a notification that the product is available now and just a few steps away.
  4. She finds the product she likes but decides not to buy it at the moment. A few days later she’s at home and receives an email/notification informing her there is a 20% discount if she purchases the product now. She orders it and chooses whether to get it delivered or pick it up in person.

Analyze all your user interactions to find patterns of behaviors among segmented target groups in each scenario. Then use the summarized data as a prediction model to build your custom communication campaigns across all channels tailored for each group and in association with all stakeholders such as sales and marketing teams, as well as your business partners and points of sale.

SOME INSIGHTS TO GET YOU STARTED

Consider the following study by Accenture when creating an omnichannel communication strategy:

  • 45% of shoppers want accounts that are “completely connected between purchases and loyalty points both online and in-store”
  • 61% would pay by phone at checkout
  • 63% would be receptive to cross-sell/upsells based on scanned items in a physical cart
  • 74% would access other customers’ ratings and reviews
  • 77% would scan products as they’re added to a physical cart
  • 82% would use endless-aisle features like ordering out-of-stock items for in-store or home delivery
  • 88% of consumers would use mobile tools to gather loyalty points or take advantage of real-time promotions in-store

BEAUTIFUL INSPIRATION FROM SEPHORA

The beauty giant Sephora has created an omnichannel experience that connects its shoppers' online purchases to their in-store visits. In addition to beauty workshops and complimentary makeovers, customers can use an in-store app to access their Beauty Bag account while shopping.

This account allows them to look up item details and virtually try on products using AR technologies. If they like a product, they can add it to a wish list and purchase the entire list using the app.

Sephora recognizes that its shoppers are faced with a variety of choices from the moment they walk into one of its stores. By integrating its Beauty Bag feature with its in-store communication channel, Sephora is able to help customers narrow their options and keep track of products that they intend to purchase.

WHAT TO DO

Focus the communication on the customer’s needs. The plan should be about how your customers can best benefit from what you are offering because your business is here to fulfill their needs and to provide them with a solution to their problems.

Make marketing campaigns mobile-friendly. Whether they are outside or inside their homes, most people spend a lot of their idle time on their phones.

Use your social media channels wisely. Each social media site serves a distinct purpose and the communication needs to be tailored to each of these platforms.

WHAT NOT TO DO

Don't forget the importance of product knowledge. Have a comprehensive understanding of your own product or service, and then make sure to be able to communicate that information in clear, simple terms to consumers.

Don't give up on email marketing. For example, give a 15% discount to subscribers, or a 20% discount and free shipping on their birthday.

Don't create beautiful landing pages that aren’t user friendly. Conduct user research and user testing of all communication content prior to campaigns activation.

DETAILED OKRS ARE ESSENTIAL

Forecast your online sales revenue and the impact to omnichannel sales before you start investing. No strategy should be implemented to its full capacity in terms of budget spending before conducting a series of A/B testing to analyze pilot campaigns. You must also consider gathering user feedback to optimize overall strategy, which campaigns perform better in terms of ROI, how to improve results based on the customer journey across all channels, and how to use what was learned to create new campaigns and update the strategy.

There are many ways that online communication can positively impact omnichannel sales:

  • Increase sales with on-demand point-of-sale – Create a POS or mobile app that allows consumers to browse, test products, engage with the brand, and purchase innovatively. To enhance the customer journey, brands are starting to use a mix of AI, VR, and AR technology to allow shoppers to try on and experience products before they buy.
  • Sell more through multiple channels – With a "where to buy" feature, brands can offer customers multi-channel purchase options through their product pages and e-commerce site via popular online and trusted offline local retailers.

An omnichannel strategy yields a complete view of the customer's journey to deliver the right message without pressure or over-solicitation, at just the right moment.

With the digitization of buying patterns, being present on all channels is no longer enough to get the attention of consumers. A multi-channel strategy needs to be reshaped to benefit from omnichannel techniques, which are crucial today to support consumers throughout their purchasing journey.

Which steps do customers take before making their final purchase? How much time passes before their initial visit and final purchase? Did they only purchase online? These questions help improve customer journey knowledge and put an effective and coherent marketing strategy in place.

The strategy pays off when the services offered are consistent with the channels they’re on.

Good luck!!

If you require any support, feel free to contact us at Salsita. We help our clients in all areas of omnichannel strategy and digital transformation, such as marketing and advertising, UX research and consultation, product design, and development.