Imagine going into a store to buy something and being greeted with the name of a seller. Not only that, but they seem to know that you intended to buy the TV from their website, came as far as putting it in the shopping cart, but had thought you might just come into the store to see it work before you come to mind. . You really like this store; you had even praised them on social media and always get their catalog. Now it looks like they can read your mind, know what you’ve been researching on your tablet on the way to work, and have some brilliant ideas on what TV is best for you. In fact, not many years in the future, you benefit from Omnichannel marketing.
There have been several stages in the development of marketing to consumers. In the first phase, potential customers were provided with ad hoc, targeted information on potential products. In phase two, the market was segmented and people received product information according to their age, employment, geographical location etc. Then marketing became a bit more sophisticated and loyalty programs were started such as store cards. Potential customers received product information according to their previous purchase from the specific company. Omnichannel is the latest in marketing where companies can propose products across multiple channels and many platforms from many retailers, consolidating this information into behavioral patterns and personalizing them just for you.
Omni means many, and the multi-channel approach provides a seamless shopping experience for the customer, whether from a tablet, a computer, through social media or in person. Click or brick, telephone or per. Mail gives the customer the same experience. The dealer has the advantage that they have a greater understanding of the customer’s needs and can present suggestions to them as they shop. In a retail building, the retailer can map the customer’s progress through the store, follow their eye line and see what they are touching and what is of little interest.
All of this is possible because of the other word that really needs to be included in the name – integration. All rear ends are integrated. So the database from the site is integrated with the store database. CCTV cameras are connected to the system so the shopper can be seen. A Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection to their mobile phone helps to track a customer. When the customer speaks to the retail representative, they will know everything about them and be able to make informed recommendations. The big difference from a multi-channel experience is that the experience is viewed from the customer’s point of view as opposed to the marketer’s view.
Omnichannel is a more organized, more unified and more efficient multi-channel experience. Some say it is multi-channel done right! It provides the physical interaction and personal service that many people miss when shopping online and is a key differentiator for retail bricks and mortar details.
So how can one achieve Omnichannel marketing? First of all, everything from everywhere must be measured, then the information must be sorted and understood. Finally, the information must be used for each customer’s behavior, wishes and activities. While online retailers have had the use of website analytics to understand what their customers are doing on the site and provide some insight into changes that can be made until recently, a brick-and-mortar retailer did not really understand the customer experience in their stores. Why they bought and more importantly did not buy were not questions that they easily answered for them.
To do this for a wall-based retailer, there must be an appropriate technology platform and fully included and trained staff. As the name suggests, everything has to be integrated. But it also has to be robust, upgradeable and easily understandable to non-technical who will operate it.
Only in the last few years has the technology been robust enough to support this kind of system. The vast amount of structured and unstructured data that needed to be compiled was challenged by hardware, networks and software.
Fortunately, a few innovative companies have emerged capable of using truly comprehensive analytics platforms in the store with a breathtaking level of sophistication. These systems can answer shopping questions, gathered in thousands of stores as well as the opportunity to delve deep into this information. Retailers will soon be partnering for the benefit of everyone, and the customer will benefit from it.
Although it is the software that drives Omnichannel marketing, the hardware is as important as it supports and enables fast processing and is combined with the network to allow for fast data transfer and collection.
The technical platform has to gather information from several different data points, which means a huge amount of data being processed and sorted. We are definitely in an era of Big Data! Some examples of data collection sites include:
• WiFi and blue teeth enable devices
• Security cameras
• POS systems (point of sale)
• Debit card
• Loyalty card
• WiFi points
• Workforce management systems
• Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM)
• Weather and time systems
This information can then be processed, analyzed and broadcast to a number of tools, apps, reports and other software systems as well as produce real-time alerts for phones and tablets. The type of information available is very wide and includes:
• Traffic measurements
• Purchase of profiles
• Purchasing behavior
• Movements around a store
• Demographic shopper
• Poorly executed retail areas
In fact, they answer the five important questions that every retailer will ask themselves:
1. Are our shoppers engaged to us?
2. Do our campaigns work?
3. What bits of our marketing work best?
4. Where can I best use my staff?
5. The big one: What can I do better to become more profitable?
Some truly innovative companies bring purchasing power into the hands of shoppers and allow the retailer to be very responsive to their needs. It’s Omnichannel.