Even as online retail is growing at a rapid pace, most customers are still buying from stationary sources: According to a large-scale study in 2016 by the Market and opinion research institute Ipsos, some 57 percent of all interviewees prefer to visit the local shop than to purchase by computer. At the same time, the study found that 34 percent of all customers use their smartphones to inform themselves about products – while they are actually shopping. Gradually, the retailer is recognising that online and offline sales must overlap in order to offer the customer maximum shopping comfort: The future is calling for omnichannel retail.
Using omnichannel technology, digital and stationary sales channels are connected to one another and thus produce an interplay. In other words, how the customer behaves online can be exploited when shopping in local trade – and vice versa. If customers prefers to look at large devices like a TV on-site and later order online, the retailer can create a customer profile online at the store with all the important data. The customer can then confirm the final purchase from home. If the customer prefers to try clothes before buying, they can reserve them with a click and later try them on in the shop.
Clever omnichannel strategies assure retailers of greater profits
In a report from 2014, the international Deloitte Network for Auditing divided British and German consumers into two groups of regular consumers and occasional consumers. Regular consumers accounted for 70% of sales in both markets (amounting to 560 billion Euros). As the report shows, regular consumers are more likely to use multiple channels. Before purchasing in stationary retail, for example, it is 30 percent more likely that these customers would first enquire about the product online.
Deloitte also concluded that a more intensive research by the customer via numerous channels would raise the planned purchase value. This remains the case whether the purchase takes place in stationary or online retail. In numbers this implies that over 63 percent of German and British buyers who invested more than 100 pounds in a product used several channels in advance. Retailers gain the trust and willingness of the customer to invest higher sums when they provide comprehensive information across multiple channels.
How to shape your omnichannel strategy successfully
The development of omnichannel retail is still in its infancy. But experts are agreed that a clear, thought-through strategy is absent among many retailers. The basis for a successful omnichannel strategy consists of providing the customer with all channels at the same complexity at all times. For the customer, it is irrelevant at which stage of the purchase process they use the online or offline channel. The important thing is to make the buying experience free from obstacles. Retailers must ensure that all information is available across all channels. This includes information on:
- The availability of the goods in terms of stock, reservation and dispatch possibilities
- Data on the product such as pictures, descriptions, available sizes
- A notification of payment possibilities
- The price and, if any, promotions or discounts
- The general organisation, such as consulting options and the procedure for returns, for example
Retailers should be curious and open about omnichannel retail: Those deciding at an early stage for consolidation of the online and offline world can secure immense competitive advantages. Successful pioneers here include Ikea and Zalando, for example.
Quickly retrievable prices require skilled price management
The transparency of products across multiple channels means that price comparisons are as easy as never before: The customer sees a product and can still compare prices online in the shop using a smartphone. The price is and remains the best sales argument for retailers. To stand out in the field of omnichannel retail, merchants should therefore rely on ab efficient dynamic price management. Automated tools, like the blackbee Business Intelligence software, help to successfully implement pricing strategies. By such means, retailers remain one step ahead of other competitors.
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