Today’s customers expect seamless transitions and a consistent experience across channels. The line between online and offline shopping is blurry, with more and more consumers experiencing brands through in-person and digital moments; 73% of customers now describe themselves as “channel agnostic.” Therefore, a customer’s first experience sets expectations across all touchpoints—a positive in-store experience should lead to a spectacular online experience.
What is omnichannel retail?
Omnichannel retail offers customers a seamless shopping experience regardless of the channel(s) used. The goal is to be authentic and consistent.
Customers increasingly contact brands more often and via more channels, and even use multiple ones simultaneously. Resilient retailers must organize their businesses around the customer.
Innovative and enduring brands think holistically about the customer journey, offer compelling cross-platform experiences, and continually reinvent the shopping experience. Brands winning the omnichannel game are conversational and don’t hesitate to communicate across channels.
Omnichannel retail and the NOW customer.
Shoppers want to be treated like people, not account numbers.
The NOW Customer is always online and expects an on-demand experience; they’re used to the CX standards set by world-class brands (think Amazon Prime) and expect similar from every business. These empowered customers demand faster resolutions and consistent service across all touchpoints.
What omnichannel retail means for the customer experience.
Forrester recently surveyed CX decision-makers and found 77% agree customers are contacting them using more diverse channels; 67% agree customers use more than one channel.
Retailers understand customer satisfaction leads to loyalty. Customer service that excels at personalization, sincerity, empathy, and speed can differentiate a retailer.
Companies need to reallocate resources to technologies enabling communications across multiple touchpoints and giving customers services that fit their lifestyles. Retailers must design semiautomated journeys to engage customers across channels. When human interactions do happen, retailers must promptly connect shoppers with solutions and answers.
How to create optimal omnichannel experiences.
Customer journeys aren’t linear but rather are a series of handoffs between channels. An omnichannel transformation is the only way for brands to address the rising complexity of shopper demands and manage operational costs. Here’s how to start:
Step 1: Develop a strategy to map the omnichannel journeys of your customers. Retailers must first understand what matters most to customers before designing an engaging customer experience.
Retailers can use quantitative research (customer surveys) and qualitative efforts (ethnographic research) to piece together the customer journey. These investigations give brands insights into additional touchpoints not previously considered, a deeper understanding of customer pain points, and provide personalization opportunities in the experience to create “wow” moments.
Step 2: Integrate technology to achieve a personalized customer experience. Despite advances in automation, customers still want a human connection. Customers are more likely to walk away from online purchases without human assistance; it’s what contributes to shopping cart abandonment reaching 69.5%.
Tools to deliver a seamless experience:
- An omnichannel desktop: Your team’s desktops should act as command centers integrating chat, co-browsing, and email via applications. Automate easy requests, with more complex customer requests routed to humans.
- An omnichannel helpdesk platform: A platform to coordinate all channels, route all incoming requests, and bring together a customer’s entire contact history. With a 360-degree customer perspective in the omnichannel desktop, team members gain access to a self-service portal and can steer the process for customers.
- Staffing: The one thing your helpdesk platform won’t provide is staffing. Automation is a vital part of the omnichannel experience, but it will only take you so far. Making your experience truly conversational entails maintaining a human-first experience. This might mean outsourcing customer service to take on the 24/7 digital conversations automation alone won’t fully support or create the bandwidth you need to cover more channels.
One of the most underutilized channels is live chat—only 51.2% of online retailers even have it enabled because it’s notoriously hard to staff, particularly for 24/7 coverage. Genuine omnichannel brands don’t just answer questions on social media or via email, though—they use live chat to bring the in-store experience online. Shoppers require assistance beyond your business hours, online shopping is 24/7, and your omnichannel shopping experience should be too.
Omnichannel retailers augment shopping experiences with services exceeding the NOW Customer’s expectations. Klarna delivers the one-click purchases, and payment flexibility shoppers want. When it comes to an AI-enabled staffing pool scaling up and down in peak seasons, Simplr allows companies to quickly expand their customer service capacity and engage customers with speed and empathy 24/7, 365 days a year on all digital channels. True omnichannel retail success comes from leveraging technology, services, and people to deliver a fast and frictionless experience.
Simplr is a digital CX solution that combines the speed, convenience, and scalability of bots with the quality and personalization of real humans (without the limitations of either). Simplr helps brands to solve common challenges such as preventing backlogs, expanding coverage across digital channels (i.e. live chat and SMS), and reducing the burden of cost-intensive WFM, hiring, and training. They handle pre/post-sale and technical questions with immense precision and speed resulting in improved efficiency and increased revenue.