Omni Talk’s reach is growing every day, and today we have a guest post that comes all the way from Singapore — from Zal Dastur, COO and Cofounder of Lucep. Lucep specializes in omnichannel customer engagement solutions and was recently named Startup of the Year for 2017 by SiliconIndia Magazine. Thank you to Zal and Lucep for your shared love of the omnichannel revolution. Please enjoy!
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By Zal Dastur, COO and Cofounder of Lucep — April 3, 2018
Let me start with the clincher – Omnichannel customers spend 93% more than those who shop direct or online, and 208% more than those who only shop in-store. The numbers tell you that you must implement an omnichannel strategy. The only debate here is about how to do it. Best place to start is by understanding your customer’s journey, and then mapping omnichannel touches across this entire journey.
I understand it’s easy to talk about it, but it can get very complicated when you try to figure out how to do it for your own retail network. Let’s look at some case studies, reports, and whitepapers on omnichannel marketing and digital transformation.
What is Omnichannel?
The easiest way to explain omnichannel is to understand the meaning of the word – “omni” as in “omniscient,” which means all-knowing or present everywhere. In this reference, what it means is that you are there to respond to the customer everywhere, regardless of which channel the customer picks and continues using.
Customers may start by looking for a product online and bumping into your website or ad. Then they may contact you by email or phone, to which you respond through the same channel, and then they may head back to your website to buy online, or they may come to your store to buy in person. This is what you’re probably doing already, as a “multichannel marketing” approach. To make it omnichannel, all you must do is enable a seamless transition across these channels.
Omnichannel doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be present on more channels, or on every channel. It just means that you can have a conversation with your customer, without the need to start the buyer-seller discussion all over again on each channel.
Getting started with business transformation
You can consider opting for an omnichannel solution, but the more urgent need is likely store or business transformation. For your stores to be useful and provide a more satisfying customer experience, they have to be redesigned to cater to the needs of specific sets of customers.
Take a look at this whitepaper on branch transformation, which provides branch design tips and insights from the leaders of organizations that have actually done this.
The summary of your store transformation strategy should be something like this:
– Analyze the characteristics of customers at each store location;
– Segment customers based on location, products needed, and their past buying histories;
– Come up with priorities for each store, and the resultant store design should serve the segments of customers that it will attract.
The idea is that the transactional experience of buying a product should be a brand experience that is the same, no matter which channel your customer is on at any given time.
How to implement Omnichannel marketing
Once your stores and online channels are aligned into a single brand experience for customers, the next step is to figure out how to help your customers break out of the siloed conversations that happen in each channel and instead foster a single conversation across all online and offline channels.
I’m going to recommend that you read these two reports listed below:
- Demystifying omnichannel marketing – TheCMOClub.com
- Why you can no longer define your strategy by channels – ThinkwithGoogle.com
There’s a very pertinent example of Home Depot’s omnichannel strategy in the latter link. They had two different teams handling online and offline marketing. These teams were brought together into a single team which then focused on specific stages of the marketing funnel and buyer’s journey, regardless of the channel.
Balancing Digital Transformation vs Physical Stores
There’s one school of thought which suggests that it’s better to shut down your physical stores as you progress with digital transformation. This is already happening with retail bank networks across the world. Banks are closing branches down by the thousands as they start engaging customers across more digital channels and attempt to implement the secure technologies needed to provide all their services online and on mobile.
But not all banks are giving up their branches. Some are opting to transform their branches from transactional hubs into a more advisory role for complex products and services. So, to follow the omnichannel example above, a customer would start by doing their research online, and then use the Omnichannel software’s callback feature to talk to a bank RM and find out more.
If they’re interested in a product and need more help or a demonstration or further advice, then they can come to the bank branch in-person or arrange a video conference with a bank expert such as a mortgage specialist or investment advisor. When they decide to come, the queue management component of the omnichannel API could issue an SMS ticket with a token number and scheduled time
At the bank, the digital signage integrated with the omnichannel system would show their name and token number on the screen, and direct them to a specific counter and RM, who would already have received a notification that the next customer, so-and-so name in need of this particular service, is on the way.
So, the customer knows exactly when to come, thus eliminating wait times. The bank staff knows who is coming at what time, and for what purpose. This information flow enables them to provide a higher level of personalized customer service that makes branch visits much more appealing, thus making your retail branch network relevant even in the face of complete digital transformation.
You can do pretty much the same thing for any type of retail network. Provide an exemplary degree of omnichannel customer engagement and personalization to your VIP customers, ensuring that they appreciate the premium service they’re getting. It’ll soak in throughout your network, and all your stores will compete with each other to provide seamless service across your online and offline channels to all their customers.
Reporting and Alerts to Implement an Omnichannel Approach
Reports and branch data is especially important for omnichannel software. Let’s take the example of SLA alerts. Many retail networks have service level agreements in place that define the minimum acceptable levels of customer service, such as wait times. If the wait time exceeds that set period, an SLA alert should be automatically triggered.
If so, then the alert should be sent to the store manager and/or supervisor of that section. They can instantly look at their omnichannel dashboard and see what’s happening in that section (avg number of customers waiting, how long each one has been waiting, how long it’s taking for the staff member to serve each customer on average, etc.)
This data in turn enables them to fix the issue instantly by adding more multi-service queues and resources to reduce wait times. They can also go down to the shop floor and talk to waiting customers in person and assure them that the delay has been sorted out and they will be served right away.
In summary, this kind of omnichannel approach ensures that your physical stores stay open and are useful to the customer. Secondly, implementing it will help you create a brand experience that will likely improve your customer lifetime value and set you apart from your competitors struggling separately with both online and offline transactions.
Chris Walton is an accomplished Senior Executive with nearly 20 years of success within the retail and retail technology industries. He is well-versed in merchandising, store operations, inventory management, product design, forecasting, e-commerce, pricing and promotions, and tech product development.
Chris was most recently a Vice President with Target, where he led the retailer’s Store of the Future project and also ran the Target’s home furnishing division for e-commerce. He previously worked for GAP, Inc., as a Distribution Analyst and Manager.
Chris holds a BA in Economics and History from Stanford University, and a MBA from Harvard Business School.
He likes to dress as Darth Vader for Halloween, and his wife also frequently asks him to ask Alexa, "to turn off the music."