Technology has changed the ways in which we engage, share and shop for the products we’re after. Fifteen years ago, a catalog and a 1-800 support number were enough to meet customer needs. Today, merchants must ensure a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels—mobile, tablet, laptop, print, in-store—or risk losing the sale.
Pioneering brands and retailers view this shifting landscape as an opportunity to break ahead of the pack and reap the rewards. Businesses today increasingly invest resources into delivering and improving a multi-channel experience. It’s standard practice for retail brands to not just have a brick-and-mortar storefront, but also a website, Facebook and Twitter, while attempting to leverage each of these platforms to engage with their customers. However, the customer still often lacks consistent messaging and a seamless experience across these multiple channels.
An omnichannel approach helps brands adjust for each platform and device a customer uses to interact with the company. That know-how is then used to deliver an integrated experience for shoppers and align their messaging, goals, objectives, and design across each channel and device. Here are two tips to help your brand deliver a cohesive omnichannel experience.
Start with a solid operational foundation
It’s important for brands to have strong backend support so customers can have a seamless omnichannel experience. To that end, businesses should focus on the three P’s: people, processes and platforms. Without first concentrating on these areas, brands end up with good intentions but a disarray of siloed business units.
Make sure to assign clear leadership and responsibilities to people within your business to ensure cross-channel synergy and ownership. Instill customer-centric processes and adjust workflow and priority accordingly. Last but not least, invest in new platforms and technologies that support operations and centralize the flow of inventory, order and customer data. Unifying the three P’s across different channels will disrupt the multi-channel status quo and present a more streamlined and efficient customer experience.
Implement phased deployments based on data
Speed is key, and online retailers should use data to make quick-turn priority calls when deploying new technology or integration plans. Nail the basics such as responsive website/mobile design, real-time inventory, and expanded fulfillment options (aim to use one OMS or ERP system.) Fulfillment options include a distribution center, 3PL, store, or drop ship vendors/retailers.
Across each of these channels, you will need the proper order capture and processing, cross channel order routing, promotional consistency (regardless of channel or device), and customer service tools. These deployments should be based on data. Key factors to be aware of include: multi-point inventory management, order aggregation (by source/format), rule-based order sourcing, 360-degree customer view, and real-time enterprise visibility. When going the omnichannel route, consideration of these can ensure both efficiency and success.
The most successful brands center their business around the customer. Ultimately, an omnichannel strategy means accounting for the customer’s needs and wants by streamlining operations across all channels and linking disparate units within the business. With a strong operational foundation and a data-driven deployment strategy, brands can create a customer-centered omnichannel experience and continue to thrive in the eCommerce space.
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