By Samuel Mueller, CEO and co-founder, Scandit
Retailers can’t always assume customers will walk into a physical store during normal business hours, find a product, get the information they need from an associate, and make a purchase. This type of traditional transactional behavior still occurs, but consumers’ buying patterns have transformed in recent years. Now a buying decision isn’t just a single event—it’s the last step in an omni-channel customer journey.
The omni-channel model gives consumers the ability to have a seamless shopping experience. This means from the customer perspective, all offline and online activities are part of one unified process. For example, a modern shopper expects the ability to perform tasks such as ordering in-store items from their mobile phone and returning online purchases at a physical store.
While providing a seamless retail experience can be a complex process, it is also a potential source of significant added profits. In fact, a 2015 Worldpay report mentioned omni-channel shoppers spend between 50 to 300 percent more than single-channel shoppers.
In order to fully serve the omni-channel customer journey, retailers first have to understand the typical process consumers go through when making a seamless buying decision. Included below is a sample omni-channel purchase timeline many retailers may already be familiar with.
In this example, the customer covered a lot of ground across a lot of channels and devices from the time they first heard about the product through the time they decided to make the purchase. Are you prepared to support all of these steps in your customers’ journey?
Do you have mShopping apps available for smartphones and tablets, in addition to a desktop and mobile-optimized website? Does your inventory management system help your employees keep stock numbers updated so customers are fully aware of what quantities are available in store and online? Do your employees have access to mobile clienteling software so they can provide immediate product information and improved customer service? Is self-checkout available? Are you visible and active on social media?
Throughout every step of the journey — online and offline — each customer needs to be informed about the product they’re interested in and be able to complete the purchase at any time. If you don’t support their journey, one of your competitors will and the customer will give them the sale. More than likely, the customer will also give your competitor who satisfied their omni-channel needs their future loyalty.
An effective omni-channel strategy takes effort and coordination. But the rewards more than justify the time and expense.
About The Author
Samuel Mueller is the CEO and co-founder of Scandit and is responsible for overall strategic direction, marketing, sales, and business development. Prior to Scandit, Samuel was a management consultant and project leader for multinational companies such as Swiss Airlines, Swiss Re, and IBM, as well as a corporate researcher at the renowned IBM Zurich Research Lab.