How to Deliver a Great Omnichannel Customer Experience
Published on 28 April 2021
When eCommerce first emerged as a new sales channel, companies wrestled with how to set up their distribution channels to address this new opportunity. Some merged the activities right into their existing fulfillment setups, others built new warehouses specifically to support online sales, and others used a hybrid approach such as using one distribution center partitioned off to manage the activities separately.
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This “fragmented” approach trickled down to the customer experience, where buyers could only return products via the channel that they used to purchase them, and where the in-store experience was still very different from what one experienced when buying via mobile phone or desktop.
As eCommerce grew, these approaches changed dramatically. Fast-forward to 2021, and the emphasis has shifted away from brick-and-mortar fulfillment and more toward addressing a market that grew by 44% in 2020 and continues flourishing. With both B2C and B2B sellers now firmly in the midst of an eCommerce boom, the push to create a better omnichannel customer experience has shifted into full gear.
Why is Omnichannel Important?
According to CMS Wire, the omnichannel experience refers to the way organizations integrate all the touchpoints in any given customer journey, including mobile device, laptop, desktop, or brick-and-mortar store. “It’s a customer-centric approach meant to deliver value to the customer through better, more consistent targeting and messaging delivered at the right moment,” the publication states.
Where omnichannel was once the domain of the B2C world, it now encompasses all corners of the business world. The consumer who expects to be able to purchase a dress and return it in store, for example, is the same buyer who wants a cohesive experience when procuring goods from a supplier.
“It’s so important to create a holistic experience for your shopper and make sure your brands are showing up consistently throughout every part of the consumer journey whether it be digitally or in store,'' J.M. Smucker’s Marissa Eisenbrei told CMS Wire. “Each distribution channel should work together in unison to deliver one experience.”
When creating omnichannel customer experiences, companies run into challenges like data silos (where individual departments don’t “share” data with one another), a lack of unified omnichannel customer data, and the need for better personalization across channels. The latter is particularly important, CMS Wire notes, because today’s customer expect a personalized experience based on purchase and browsing history; customer service inquiries; and chat transcripts.
The omnichannel experience also has to be consistent and predictable. Much like diners enjoy being able to walk into a restaurant franchise and get the same experience that they would at another location (even in a different state or country), customers don’t want to be confused or disappointed just because they’re buying through a different channel.
“Make sure you’re consistent and distinctive across every touchpoint a consumer might experience your brand whether it be through commercials, digital ads, websites, or in-store experiences,” Eisenbrei advises in CMS Wire.
Breaking Down Data Silos
In Omnichannel Shoppers: Converting Them in 2021, digital marketing specialist Dhruv Mehta discusses the value of having integrated customer data across all touchpoints. For example, if a buyer sends an email to complain about a product and then calls for a follow-up, he or she would expect the customer support representative to be aware of their complaint.
“Unfortunately, this is rarely the case because of the informational siloes that exist in an organization,” Mehta writes. Companies can use software to solve this problem and create a more customer-centric omnichannel experience. With a single customer view to work from, you can overcome this hurdle and better engage with customers by knowing who they are and what they want.
“For instance, integrating your live chat data with your customer relationship management (CRM) software is one way to build a single source of truth about your customers,” Mehta points out. “This will help you analyze the past interactions in order to better personalize future conversations and seamlessly engage your customers across diverse touchpoints – creating a truly omnichannel experience.”
5 Tips for Omnichannel Success
To bust through these roadblocks and create a great omnichannel customer experience, companies should strive for more emotional loyalty and a personalized, 1:1 recognition through a process known as “customer scoring.” That means including all customer interactions with your brand—community activity, product reviews, sponsorship, private sales, previews, etc.—to develop a 360-degree view of that customer.
Here are five more ways to ensure a great omnichannel customer experience, every time:
- Go beyond basic “earn and burn” mindset and focus on customer retention. Don’t limit yourself to managing points. For a more emotional loyalty, evaluate and reward all welcome behaviors.
- Strive to increase average cart size. Your current customers are your best prospects for higher sales. Boost sales for all your customers: anonymous, identified, or loyal to encourage impulse buying and additional sales.
- Ensure cross-channel consistency. Create a consistent customer experience across all sales channels and help your customer benefit from the best offer wherever they are located.
- Create a 360-degree client vision. Use software to centralize all customer data, including their locations, purchasing habits, and preferences for a better contextualization of interactions.
- Push out offers that will entice them. Use real-time offers that are perfectly matched to the customer profile across different sales channels (or directly from suppliers) to keep customers coming back for more.
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