How to use all retail channels for a more personal customer experience

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Not that long ago everyone was talking about Omnichannel. While the buzzword has fallen by the wayside a bit, the idea of a joined-up customer experience across all platforms – mobile, online, in-store, social – hasn’t.

Customers are thinking more and more about their shopping experience with a brand – they’re not differentiating it into in-store or online. They soon know is it’s inconsistent or one channel is too complicated or isolated to use.

A joined-up experience is also increasingly important because customers are starting their buying journeys in so many different ways. Perhaps they’ve interacted with a chatbot or seen a social media post. Maybe they’ve browsed the website or walked past the store and gone inside. They might have seen a traditional advert or received an email with an offer. As the number of brand touchpoints grow, so do the options for customers.

One of the big benefits of a multi-channel approach is the ability to better personalise the shopping experience to the individual. Retailers have ever-increasingly large amounts of data about customers, from when they last shopped in-store to their purchase history and basket abandonment rate.

This info means they could tailor the experience to that specific customer, whether it’s the store assistant recommending shoes that go with the jacket bought online last month, or an email telling them that the item they were eyeing up in store is now on sale.

There’s even the opportunity to start using location and tech to create contextual experiences. For example pinging a customer with a notification that the item they were looking at online is in stock as they walk past a store. Or if you know a customer regularly visits a certain store you could email them an invite to a special event there.

There’s even the option to use location information from a customer’s smartphone to personalise their experience while in the store. If the retailer knows where they are then they could change nearby in-store digital advertising to show products relevant to them. The same concept could be used in a retailer own smartphone app by sharing useful content and information with the customer based on what they’re near.

One element that is often overlooked in multi-channel strategies is marketing and advertising. The typical approach is still broadly a blanket one with most customers getting exposed to all marketing efforts, rather than targeted ones. The likelihood though is that retailers would sell more, and customers would see their marketing efforts as being more valuable, if they made sure everything they said is relevant to the recipient. A new beauty range for twenty-somethings is not going to be of interest to your customers of forty-plus.

Multi-channel strategies need to be about developing an ecosystem around the customer. The better you know your customer, the more tailored and enjoyable you can make their experience. And if you keep doing that and they find their interactions with you to be useful and relevant, they’ll be happy to keep giving you information about them.

Most of the time selling a product isn’t about the actual product, but more about the lifestyle, feeling or emotion it creates in the customer. If you’re able to tailor everything around the buying journey to that customer than you can only heighten that. And that’s a very powerful experience.

(By Cate Trotter, Head of Trends at Insider Trends)

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