Omnichannel’s steady march toward ubiquity has continued over the past decade. It seems like literally every brand is now omnichannel. Where are they?
According to a McKinsey&Company report:
We find that retailers are often swayed by new technologies that seem promising, but too often don’t deliver.
In all the buzz, brands are struggling to be present everywhere, all the time. New platforms and tools are springing up, offering new opportunities in the field of digital and physical marketing.
So where can your brand add the most value in 2022? We’ve listed some of the most promising trends and how they can be used to create more engagement for brands.
Shopping assistance in virtual and mixed reality
Added value: Boost customer service
Remember to shop by appointment only? It’s here to stay — without the masks though.
The big advantage of physical shopping was and remains the fact that there is always someone to help you. Salespeople know exactly what’s available and can even give customers hints on what might be right for them, but what about your virtual buyers?
A Forrester study commissioned by Shopify showed that 52% of brands invest in ways to help brand representatives communicate with potential buyers in real time, via the media they prefer (e.g. text, chat , social media, video) and the channel they use. on.
When you’re cluelessly scrolling through kids toys ahead of your three-year-old nephew’s birthday, it’s these experts with access to the sales data that can point you in the right direction.
What’s important to keep in mind, of course, is that you need to think of your reps as a specific brand audience that needs its own marketing programs. They should be trained in the purpose, tone and brand messages to ensure consistency and quality in their communication with customers.
On the other hand, some stores are addressing the digital needs of their IRL shoppers by introducing mixed reality shopping assistance. For example, Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn has introduced an AR app where shoppers can choose a recipe and have a shopping list automatically created for them. Once in the store, the app directs them to where they can find each product and offers information about discounts and special offers.
This means shoppers don’t have to wait for a sales rep to be available, and it also opens up the possibility of direct, personalized sales opportunities through shoppers’ recipe choices.
Improved Social Selling
Added value: Generate more sales on social networks
A Statista survey showed that sales made through social media are expected to triple by 2025. And if there’s one country to follow for the latest trends, it’s China. About half of Chinese Internet users already buy on social networks compared to about a third of American Internet users. More striking is the amount of money they spend. Chinese social shoppers spent over $351 billion in 2021, nearly ten times more than the meager $36 billion spent by US social shoppers.
It’s time for brands to experiment and think about how they can use some of the new opportunities to their advantage.
Live video in particular seems to be a hot market. In the first half of 2021, it already represented 21% of the total physical goods sold online in China. And according to the Forrester study,
Eighty-one percent of businesses plan to increase or maintain their investments in direct selling to drive sales over the next 12 months.
Live videos can be great for product demos, virtual showroom tours, or even personal shopping by appointment, depending on what fits your brand. Amazon, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook already offer tools for live commerce, all you need is the right content to go with the flow.
For example, KiKat hosted a Facebook Live event for its Chocolatory Australia campaign that resulted in a three-fold increase in online sales. During the event, audiences could purchase directly using the Comment to Message feature, which automatically starts a conversation in Messenger when someone comments on the live stream.
Channel selection is also important; depending on where your target customers are located, it may be more effective to focus on a channel where they are already present – for example Discord on Instagram if they are younger.
Use push notifications to re-engage
Added value: Converts one-time buyers into repeat customers
But it’s not just about attracting new customers. The most important omnichannel strategies will focus on converting one-time buyers into long-term customers.
A great way to do this is to use push notifications. If brands can entice shoppers to sign up, they can use this strategy to deliver their latest news, new products, and personalized discounts directly to shoppers’ devices.
A little prompt with the right message at the right time can do wonders for sales. Tracks are part of a larger personalization strategy. By integrating user purchase data, businesses can entice customers to return at the right time, discover new products, or renew their previous purchase.
Be careful, however, not to insist too much. As we discussed in a previous article, push notification pros Notix suggest striking the right balance. Take a look at their how-to blog with tips on the best time to send push notifications, how to send triggered push notifications via API integration, and more.
A Wix Ecommerce survey found that 58% of customers expect follow-up messages after purchase. A well-timed follow-up can lead to building a sense of connection between the customer and the brand. And if the message is properly tailored, it is often rewarded with continued business. The same survey indicates that 78% of customers are willing to make a second purchase if their communication and experience is personalized.
The good thing about this strategy is that it’s automated, which makes it easier and less resource-intensive to introduce into your growth strategy.
Thanks to services like Notix, integrating push messaging into your website for fast, effective follow-ups is easier and cheaper than ever, with some customers seeing double-digit increases in conversion and re-engagement.
Offline is new online, and vice versa
Added value: Make the shopping experience seamless
“Phygital” is the hottest buzzword in omnichannel retail in 2022. Even DTC brands that only had an online presence are now opening physical showrooms for customers to experience physically their products.
What is clear is that the physical and digital spaces are almost equally important. The Forrester study found that 54% of consumers surveyed said they were likely to look at a product online and buy it in a store, while 53% said they would look at a product in-store and buy it. would buy online.
But experience isn’t the only reason –– omnichannel is all about convenience. Or, as HBR puts it, “Channel extensions that close gaps in the customer journey should be the real focus of omnichannel selling.”
Stores provide a location where needs can be met instantly, which is a huge plus for people who just can’t wait. Buy-online-pick-up-in-store, or BOPIS, combines the best of online shopping with the best of in-store shopping. Additionally, customers who pick up their product at a physical store may be exposed to more products and brand messages, making future purchases more likely.
“Buy in Store, Deliver to Home” and “Buy Online, Return in Store” are other options that are growing alongside the rise of physical showrooms, both providing added value and convenience for shoppers. buyers.
Build communities, not third-party data
Added value: Increase brand awareness and retention
Access to customer data is based on trust, and trust can be created by a sense of community. With third-party cookies restricted, omnichannel retailers need to find ways to generate first-party data –– data that is voluntarily provided to the retailer themselves.
Communities allow this. Investing in a strong community building team that leverages the right channels for a brand’s personality can lead to increased customer retention and brand awareness. Examples can be chat rooms, in-person or online experiences, and even on the blockchain.
One company that stands out for creating a tight-knit community is Peloton, a company best known for its exercise bikes and workout videos and courses. Through a combination of accessibility, rituals, gamification, encouragement, and yes, push notifications, the company managed to maintain a 95% retention rate.
Unfortunately, communities take commitment and time to form. But if a brand has a clear purpose and well-defined measures of success, a community can provide a sense of ownership, exclusivity and identity to customers – who in turn will be more likely to share data and, moreover, , will have an incentive to come back for more.
Omnichannel may be a fleeting buzzword, but developing a strategy where brands engage their audience and customers in all places that makes sense is smart in the long run.