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Online shopping is on an explosive upward trajectory, now representing more than $930 billion in annual sales. COVID lockdowns certainly sped up this process, with online global shopping increasing nearly 20% in 2020 alone. Despite this, evidence suggests that many consumers still prefer shopping in-store, with online sales representing only a slice of the retail pie. In a survey by PwC, nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said that they browsed products online before buying them in a physical store. All of this is to say that what consumers really value from their favorite brands is flexibility and choice.
Consumers have more options than ever before, and they know it: half of US consumers have said they left a brand they felt loyal to because a competitor was able to better meet their needs. Finding competitors has never been easier, and customers are willing to seek out the best price, the best availability, and the best experience. That last piece is key: customer experience drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, outperforming brand and price combined. Clearly, customer experience is a space to focus on if you want to be competitive.
That’s where omnichannel retail comes in.
represents an integrated approach to all of the ways a customer can interact with your brand, one that allows them to do so seamlessly through a variety of channels. Whether it’s through ads on social media, talking to a customer representative over the phone, or walking into a brick-and-mortar store, a good omnichannel strategy gives customers the ability to travel seamlessly from channel to channel, empowering them to have their needs addressed more quickly and easily. It also enables retailers to provide a great, seamless customer journey that keeps customers coming back for more.
The best omnichannel retailers in 2022 are the ones hyper-focusing on customer experience. They are building strong, proactive omnichannel retail strategies that include orchestrating personalized journeys across all touchpoints, aligning marketing and sales for a frictionless buying experience, harnessing comprehensive customer data, and boosting productivity through automation and streamlined processes. Above all, they are listening to their customers.
Here are what some of the best omnichannel retailers of 2022 are doing to stand apart, how they are doing it, and what we can learn from them.
What if you already have the data, but you aren’t sure how to put it to work in the context of a CX strategy? That’s what Chipotle has worked hard to figure out. Chipotle has long been a trailblazer in the food industry. When Chipotle wanted to develop and nurture their relationship with their customers by providing unique, personalized offerings, they built a solution (with the help of Avtex and Microsoft) that would translate data into actionable insights on their customers and segments.
As a result of harnessing their data, Chipotle has amplified their ability to deliver richer, more meaningful experiences that support customer loyalty, retention, and brand advocacy. Now, they can personalize engagement with their customers across channels, understanding with confidence how customers are interacting with them to make purchases. With this deeper understanding of customer preferences, they have been able to engage with customers in more personalized ways. As a result, they project as much as $280 million in annual sales revenue growth due to activating as much as 34% in newly uncovered customers and cross-sales opportunities.
Chewy took the top spot for the US Customer Experience index in 2021. Their CEO has defined their mentality as a “neighborhood pet store mentality,” which in turn has driven a customer-centric driven business model.
How can a national company behave like a neighborhood store? Their 24/7/365 customer service operation empowers their employees to go above and beyond for their customers, with small touches like handwritten notes around the holidays, 1000 random lucky pet owners chosen to receive a free oil painting of their pet each month, and even sending flowers to grieving owners whose pet has passed. Customer service representatives are trained to go above and beyond with questions, from recommending food for specific breeds to where to find local shelters.
As a result, nearly a third of Chewy customers are what Forrester defines as “devotees”: customers who are willing to pay a premium for the online retailers’ products and spend more over time, even forgiving mistakes due to built-up good will.
Costco came in a very respectable fourth on the US Customer Experience index in 2021. The warehouse retailer is famous for its no-frills, customer-centric approach—such as refusing to raise the price of its $1.50 hot dog and soda combo, despite losing money on the offering.
Although Costco was slow to adopt omnichannel, they are rapidly making up for the lost time. In 2020 the company invested deeply in e-commerce and logistics, buying Innovel Solutions, the last-mile delivery company it previously contracted with in order to expand delivery options. They also doubled the number of locations with pickup lockers, expanding their Buy Online, Pick-Up in-Store (BOPIS) offering.
Their biggest investment in omnichannel, however, may be in Costco Next, which allows Costco members to shop a curated selection of limited-supply products directly with Costco suppliers, while still enjoying the perks of Costco membership. This option gives customers access to more products at a cheaper rate, but cutting out the middleman while keeping the brand has the added benefit of helping Costco navigate the supply chain crunch currently affecting almost every retailer.
Who will be the best omnichannel retailers in 2023? Perhaps one that you’ve already experienced.
Everyone has a ‘last best experience’, or the last time that a brand memorably made a difference in their customer experience. At Avtex, we believe that you aren’t competing just against rivals in your industry or vertical. You are competing against the customer’s ‘last best experience’ they had with any brand, in any industry. Creating those powerful moments can go a long way to earning repeat business and driving customer loyalty.
Want to drive your own omnichannel transformation? Avtex can help you harness the power of your data and improve the experiences of your employees and your customers.