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Omnichannel Soon to be the Only Channel?

For actual retail locations in the age of online shopping, isn’t half the battle getting customers into the store? Perhaps. But with savvy mobile-device users becoming more adept at ferreting out all kinds of extras offered via competitors’ increasingly sophisticated apps, keeping them there may very well be the other half. Today, as virtual and actual shopping continue to meld into one with the ubiquity of mobile devices, the in-store experience is now about more than friendly employees and generous sales incentives.

Omnichannel retailing, still in its infancy, with approximately one-tenth of retail operations utilizing this technology (per Mobile Commerce Daily), can be viewed as all avenues of in-person and online (and even catalog) shopping converging in a consumer-oriented hub where the consumer is invited to take advantage of the best of both worlds. For example, online-only offers no longer leave in-person shoppers out in the cold, as they can now be redeemed offline, while in-store deals to be claimed with a coupon don’t have to be scrapped by a busy shopper who accidentally left said coupon at home.

Further, with the added benefit of a real-live salesperson to assist and explain each and every offer on- and offline, the door to higher-volume “up-sell” purchases and repeat visits is opened. Combined with already familiar services, such as reward programs, digital receipts, easily accessible order-tracking and in-store pickup for online purchases, these additional services provide shoppers with all the bells and whistles at once. This includes simple, yet satisfying amenities like reserving a fitting room by filling a virtual cart while browsing an actual store or viewing items in a retailer’s inventory. These opportunities can turn a routine shopping errand into a personalized shopping experience.

However, surveys reveal that, in terms of the app itself, the bells and whistles should be kept to a minimum, meaning that key components to successful omnichannel retailing are speed and simplicity. Fast-loading apps with easy-to-navigate interfaces could be what keeps your customers where you want them: in your store and not those of nearby competitors, an especially valid concern in large shopping malls, particularly during the final quarter of the year.

In short, to maximize your customers’ satisfaction, you’ll likely want to mobilize your store’s inventory and offers… and soon.

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