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Are Retailers Missing Out on Simple Omnichannel Quick Wins?

A seemingly big problem often elicits the sense of needing a big solution.

Over the past 10 years, omnichannel has evolved into an omnipresent conversation in retail—and it has snowballed.

In the quest to be more omnichannel driven, and deliver on all of the things we believe customers want, need and expect, have we overcomplicated some of the solutions?

Drones flying overhead in store aisles, retailer-branded apps that create a multitude of experiences but don’t necessarily deliver a true customer benefit or function, facial recognition that tells us who is shopping but doesn’t allow a way to actually interact with the shopper.

There are several logical, and less tech-burdened options that are simply overlooked because they must be too straight-forward to drive small wins toward larger omnichannel wins.

Who’s winning in retail? Those that are focused, getting back to basics and giving shoppers a solid omnichannel experience with efforts that respond to current shopper behaviors.

The experience as a whole

We’re talking about a whole shopper, interacting with your whole brand. This might mean email to social, social to online and then, finally, online to offline. So, when someone makes that effort to drive to your store, park their car and physically walk through the door for an experience they saw on Instagram…well, it better be there.

Annie Nguyen, a brand marketing and in-store experience expert, firmly believes “omnichannel messaging is vital to the omnichannel experience. It’s about NOT disappointing the customer when she gets in the store and delivering on what she experienced online.”

For Nguyen, that even means the simplicity of making sure a curated fashion experience a customer interacted with on social, is physically available to her in the store, too. From branded assets, to the same visual cues, even ensuring the products are grouped or styled together in a similar way. She wants to present the same story and experience that an omnichannel shopper might have experienced in another channel. It’s about cohesion.

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Let the store serve the shopper

Yes, e-commerce is growing, but with the majority of sales still occurring within the four walls, the physical store remains king. Growing retailers, like Eloquii and Clare V, have stated that once they open a brick-and-mortar location, they see a lift in that area’s online sales as well.

So why not let the store serve both the offline and online shopper? Give them options.

David Sobie, CEO of Happy Returns, an omnichannel returns solution, believes just that: give shoppers a reason to come into your store to serve them beyond the sale and they just may continue to come in.

“Give online shoppers the choice, and they overwhelmingly prefer to return to stores, rather than deal with the hassle and wait of returning by mail,” he said. Win, win.

Have one view of the customer

Admittedly, this one might be harder for some retailers: it takes an investment in data to get to a place where you have a singular understanding of an omnichannel shopper.

Shaan Shahabadi, who does customer marketing and analytics for Lucky Brand, is focused on having one view of the customer, no matter where they shop. “Personalized communication is so important. In digital, there is a lot of content, so a one-to-one relationship to ensure that the content is extremely relevant, that matters,” Shahabadi said.

Initiatives that optimize the customer throughout channels, he explained, are more valuable for engagement and create stronger relationships. That means being able to access and leverage transactional history and previous interactions, both offline and online.

Make omnichannel physically possible

We’re all getting more familiar with ‘click and collect’ and BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup In Store), but who’s making sure that these omnichannel strategies are physically possible when it comes to the brick and mortar locations?

Philip Slavin, the U.S. CFO of Westfield, the developer and operator behind several flagship shopping destinations, is doing just that. And Westfield is succeeding in a time when many malls are ailing.

“The success of the mall is in the design, and how we are balancing the retailer mix. Having something there that is different and something new to see, they [shoppers] can have a range of experiences—not just buy a new pair of jeans,” he said.

Slavin points out that “omnichannel is more about retailers’ interactions with the customers.” And Westfield is helping design the center to accommodate and promote an omni-channel experience.

“Something as simple as having the ability for delivery drivers to pop in and out quickly, or the correct IT networks so retailers can capture the data that we are discussing in omni-channel initiatives,” Slavin said.

Let the customer lead

At the end of the day, the majority of an omnichannel customer’s wants are realistic.

They want to be able to shop, when and where they want. They want to buy from you, they want their size, and when you don’t have it, they want you to find it; and when it doesn’t work out, they want you to take it back. And don’t forget to make it simple.

That’s how you get them to keep coming back.

Amanda Latifi is the co-founder and CEO of the omni-channel retail solution: Hafta Have. The first and only personalized mobile messaging platform that uses in-store data to drive conversion, Hafta Have helps retailers capture & recover in-store abandonment with the tactics of online. No app, no hardware.