Omnichannel retailing is a hot issue among retailers. A more evolved version of multi-channel retailing, omni-channel focuses on delivering a seamless consumer journey through various shopping channels - be it bricks-and-mortar, mobile, online, or even catalog.
Not surprisingly, consumers who shop across multiple channels already have high expectations. They want to be able to use all channels simultaneously; they expect promotions to be across channels instead of being channel specific; and they expect their shopping history to be accessible even if they switch channels or if time elapses and they decide to come back to where they left off.
For retailers, meeting this customer expectation involves significant investment and massive coordination across channels and departments. But how can retailers get the input they need to create and evolve an effective omnichannel strategy?
The omnichannel strategy of today is unlikely to be the strategy of next year. An effective consumer insight program for omnichannel strategy development should include these four elements:
- Talk to your customers
It's good to know what omnichannel tactics are emerging in the market, since it helps to identify some of the lowest hanging fruit. But the best way to know what will work for you and your brand is to talk to your customers.
An insight community is an ideal vehicle for developing and validating an omnichannel strategy. Retailers can start broad and explore customer expectations across channels, eventually leading to co-creation and ideation around the best way to serve customers. Quantitative research can help retailers validate and tweak their proposed strategy with a broader group of customers, and test tweaks and changes over time.
- Know what's happening in the broader market
By tapping into the Voice of the Market, you can go beyond the perspective and views of your customers to see what non-customers and other industries are doing. You can use these insights to better understand expectations among non-customers, or even those looking to cross channels for the first time.
- Monitor what customers actually do, not just what they say they do
By pairing rich consumer insights from an insight community with actual customer transactional data, you've got the best of both worlds to optimize your omnichannel strategy. Transactional data can help answer the what and the when, while insights from a community can lend context with the how and the why.
- Continue to keep your finger on the pulse
Sometimes, ideas sound great in theory but get lost in translation once implemented. Even if perfectly executed, ideas could prove to be either underutilized or become irrelevant due to changing technological factors. Constant monitoring of both the market and your customers help you keep up with these ever changing retail trends.
To ensure all of your effort and resources pay off, you should know exactly what your customers want in an omnichannel experience. Listening to consumers, using data wisely, and staying ahead of the competition can help ensure that you're providing the best possible customer experience.