The pandemic has changed consumers’ shopping behaviour: they are increasingly shopping online, purchasing more selectively and doing so without assistance. There’s no reason to assume that things will go back to the way they were; this behaviour is part of our ‘new normal’. The Statista Digital Outlook Report predicts that the share of the population that shops online will continue to rise to 45.2 percent by 2025, compared to 33 percent in 2021. Brick-and-mortar retail will therefore need to demonstrate what added value it has compared to purely online alternatives in order to attract people back to the shops.
Appeal to customers on all channels
In the past, customers visited a shop without any prior information. Today, things are different because the customer journey usually starts online. Consumers expect to be able to switch at will between different channels, such as brick-and-mortar shops, mobile devices, online applications and social media. While one customer might be satisfied with being able to easily pay for and print out an online voucher, another might expect the online shop to show whether the desired product is in stock in a particular store. The date for a live event posted on Instagram also needs to be communicated on the website. The goal of an omnichannel strategy is to fulfil all these expectations. A seamless and appealing customer journey is characterised by information being available simultaneously and everywhere:
- on different devices, such as smartphones, tablets and PCs
- on all online channels, such as social media, websites and online shops
- on all offline channels, such as brick-and-mortar shops, catalogues and brochures.
The effort is worth it: greater customer loyalty and more sales
To implement a successful omnichannel strategy, you should know your target groups well, because not every channel is the right one for every consumer. The function of each channel should be precisely defined and assigned to its target groups. While certain points of contact serve to provide information about products, the purpose of other touchpoints is to trigger a purchase or communicate with customers. Through this targeted control, you create customer loyalty across sales channels. You can also reach people who weren’t previously aware of your shop or had never visited it before, and systematically address and involve them by means of marketing campaigns, tailored content, loyalty programmes, participation in product development, etc. We already know from classic advertising that the greater the number of points of contact consumers have with a product, the greater their willingness to buy. The most important sales channels that you should include in your omnichannel strategy are retail shops, flagship shops, website, online shop, click & collect, social media (influencers!), search engines (organic and paid), mobile applications, email marketing, catalogues, marketplaces, if applicable, and affiliate marketing.
The introduction and implementation of an omnichannel strategy requires maximum flexibility and an interest in new digital trends. Furthermore, investments are required for the establishment of technologies and systems. Nevertheless, in the best case, an omnichannel strategy leads to faster and more frequent sales and is an important means of creating customer loyalty. Remember that clothing is the top-selling segment in online retail. Take advantage of this yourself before you give your sales away to others.