I was running errands at my local hardware store recently, basket in one hand, my trustee phone in the other, taking full advantage of the air conditioning.
I was in the middle of checking out reviews on my phone for a weed-whacker I (desperately) needed, when I caught a reflection of myself in a nearby mirrored pillar, and thought…
“If this isn’t what the omnichannel experience looks like, I don’t know what does.”
Looking around that day at the hardware store, it was clear that I wasn’t the only omni-channel customer there - using multiple channels simultaneously to help achieve my goal.
It is no secret that customers today are as connected as ever. After all, with a world of information at our fingertips, why wouldn’t we use it when we need it most?
This has also heightened our expectations for what we consider a 'great experience'. Overall, we want an experience that caters to what we want to do, when we want to do it, and how we want to do it. More and more brands are realizing this, and shuffling to devise or fine-tune omni-channel Customer Experience strategies to cater to those customers.
In this post, we look at some of the characteristics that help define many of the omni-channel customers out there, using my Retail example above as a backdrop.
Bonus: Make sure to check out our handy infographic at the bottom of this post that brings these insights together!
The omni-channel customer is: Prepared
If other omni-channel customers are like me, they do not like to roam aimlessly around stores. We want to feel in control of our experience. We want to enter the store with a plan of action.
Google finds there are three things that shoppers ask for when they search online before going into the store:
1. Inspiration to purchase
2. Help to plan their trip to the store
3. Help to narrow down their purchase options
I would not have gone to the store that day without first getting some basic information, compared a few of the different products, and ensured the products I was considering were still in stock at that location. Once at the store, having access to this information on-the-fly was also valuable to help me further narrow down my options, and simplifying my overall shopping experience.
Online research is critical in making this happen. The eCommerce Foundation finds that 88 percent of US consumers pre-research products online before making a purchase either in-store or online. Moreover, Deloitte reports that digital interactions influence $0.56 of every dollar spent in-store.
To help prepare omni-channel customers and move them along their customer journey, it is crucial for brands to optimize their online and offline channels to ensure these customers have the information they need, when they need them.
The omni-channel customer is: Channel-agnostic
We will leverage whatever channels will help us more easily move along our customer journey.
In my example, online research (website) could only get me so far before I needed to go to the store (on location) to evaluate my different options in person. Then, when I was there, I did not feel ready to make a purchase without first referring to reviews (1st-party and 3rd-party websites, mobile app) and product videos (website and social media).
The channels that omni-channel customers use (and when they use them) can depend on several factors, including:
1. The customers’ preferences
2. The type of product they are considering
3. The price of the items
How can the experience on one channel help shift the customer journey to another channel? Consider these two scenarios:
|In-store impacting online purchases||Online impacting in-store purchases|
|56 percent of shoppers visit stores first to see, touch, and feel products before buying them online, according to RetailDive.||82 percent of smartphone users use their phone to research products they are about to purchase in-store, according to Bazaarvoice.|
After I evaluated the products in the store with my own eyes, I had to check out reviews and product videos first to help reassure myself that I was making the right decision. This is especially important when dealing with big ticket items.
Brands must think beyond offering a simply "multi-channel" experience, where each brand interaction feels fragmented from one another. To offer great omnichannel experiences, brands must understand the opportunities and obstacles that omni-channel customers might encounter at each touchpoint, wherever they are in the customer journey.
The omni-channel customer is: A Multi-Tasker
Eighty-three percent of shoppers ages 18-44 use their Mobile while shopping in-store, according to Salesforce and Publicis-Sapient. In other words, most of us do it.
Just like my day in the hardware store, the omni-channel customer will often use their Mobile as a personal shopping assistant.
The main reasons customers use their phone in-store? According to RetailMeNot:
#1: Look for customer reviews (69 percent)
#2: Find comparable products (58 percent)
#3: Get product specifications (55 percent)
To satisfy omni-channel customers, brands today must offer consistent and seamless experiences across their online and offline channels.
The omni-channel customer is: A CX-Seeker
We’re firmly in the age of Customer Experience (CX). Price doesn’t have as much impact on our purchase decision as it used to.
Salesforce finds that 67 percent of customers will pay more for a great experience. Deloitte also finds that 56 percent of consumers say “the overall enjoyment of the purchase experience” significant impacts their purchase decisions.
It is also worth pointing out a couple of additional findings that compare the long-term value of catering to omni-channel customers:
1. As reported by Google, a study by IDC finds that customers who shop using multiple channels have a 30 percent higher lifetime value than their single-channel counterparts.
2. As reported by eMarketer, a Retail Systems Research study finds that 59 percent of US retailers said that omni-channel customers are more profitable than non-omni-channel ones.
By offering a superior omni-channel experience, retailers increase their chances of garnering repeat purchasers today and in the long run, and improving their bottom-line in the process.
How to understand omni-channel customers’ changing needs
Omni-channel customers are resourceful. They will do their due diligence to move along the journey comfortably and feel they are making the right choice.
But great omni-channel experiences are not designed overnight. They require brands to understand their customers – their needs, their expectations, their tendencies, and preferences for each experience at each touchpoint across the customer journey. They also need to recognize how customers perceive their current CX efforts and how they feel they can improve it.
To get these insights, brands must engage their customers at key moments in their journey. Then, get these insights in front of the right people so they can better inform their customer experience strategy.
(Click infographic to enlarge)
Banner image source: Unsplash