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As customer experience expectations continue to rise, retail has seen a shift in preferences from traditional, multichannel journeys to increasingly sophisticated omnichannel commerce and service experiences. Brands responding to these new needs and desires to deliver consistency across channels are experiencing remarkable results.
The keyword here is “across,” as it points us toward the main differences between multichannel retail and omnichannel retail. While multichannel retail focuses on all the different places people might want to interact with your brand, it does not provide a seamless journey for your customers as they move from channel to channel. As a result, important data isn’t captured, much less used to drive more efficiency and deeper personalization in experiences. This can cause significant friction that often leads to flat-out frustration at key moments in the customer journey. And that equals trouble for your brand. Forrester’s 2021 US Retailers Customer Experience Index Report states that 72% of customers will stop making a purchase if the experience generates emotions like annoyance, disappointment, or frustration.
As experiences become the primary competitive driver, companies are focusing on building omnichannel retail experiences. As a result, customers have the ability to:
With omnichannel retail, your customers are empowered to address their needs quickly and effortlessly. Your employees are also empowered to support those customers more easily and efficiently.
Omnichannel retail is a unified, frictionless experience that provides an easy and intuitive way for customers to move seamlessly from channel to channel. Every interaction and transaction are designed as part of a holistic, unified customer journey no matter which channel is being used or the way your customers are choosing to move between them.
The best omnichannel retail strategies drive loyalty and sales with every touchpoint, building more efficient, effective, and meaningful experiences for customers and employees. While multichannel drives a customer experience that is acceptable at best, today’s best omnichannel experiences are the gateway to delivering exceptional experiences that differentiate your brand from the competition.
Online retail sales grew enormously in 2020 and 2021, and are expected to top $500 billion in 2022 in the U.S. alone. While this surge in sales has created enormous impacts on the retail industry, many other trends are also driving more brands to focus on omnichannel retail, including:
Customer expectations have shifted to more desirable omnichannel retail experiences, making multichannel mere table stakes. As brands become more and more sophisticated with their omnichannel retail strategies, customers’ standards will rise, setting a higher and higher bar in every interaction. At Avtex, we call this phenomenon the “Last Best Experience” effect, by which a customer’s most compelling experience – no matter where or by whom it was delivered – establishes the gold standard by which all future experiences will be compared.
Retail Dive reports that 73% of shoppers favor self-service technologies, and that number continues to rise as technologies like AI advance to create more sophisticated, personalized automatic interactions. That doesn’t mean your agents aren’t still key to the CX. While 69% of customers try to solve their own problem first, customer support may have to step in at some point, according to Zendesk. Strong omnichannel retail strategies build a bridge between self-service and live support, creating seamless interactions between systems and humans to deliver a unified, personalized customer experience.
Customers continue to use more and more channels to interact with brands, and 51% of companies offer eight or more channels as part of the customer journey, according to a recent report from the Aberdeen Group. Millennials are driving this trend, with 63% interacting with brands on social media as a primary part of the CX, and 70% using a variety of mobile apps to research products and services, according to studies quoted in eMarketer. However, it is also true that more shoppers are returning to in-store shopping.
All of that is to say that the need for seamless, omnichannel experiences has become even more crucial, as needs and touchpoints in the customer journey continue to evolve and expand.
According to PwC, the percentage of companies investing in the omnichannel experience has jumped from 20% to more than 80%.
Why are retail companies leaning so heavily into omnichannel retail?
Today’s retail customers demand a seamless and personalized brand experience that captures their unique needs and preferences for products, channels, communications, and more. Omnichannel retail delivers amplifies a retailer’s ability to provide this value to every customer, boosting important success metrics like:
Statistics show retail businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies see 91% higher year-over-year customer retention rates compared to businesses that don’t. This is due in part to customers’ expectations regarding their retail experiences, with an SDL survey reporting that 90% of retail customers expect consistent interactions across channels. Personalization, better customer support, and access to relevant, real-time data are just a few aspects of omnichannel retail that can boost customer loyalty metrics.
Increased connectivity across channels and systems means greater access to the right customer information, at the right time. Those experiences translate not only to higher satisfaction for your agents, but better experiences for your customers as well. Omnichannel retail drives proactive agent strategies that boost contact center efficiency, drive stronger agent experiences and in turn create more unified, consistent, and relevant experiences for every customer.
The right data and analytics significantly improves the ability to deliver a great experience, as 90% of global executives attest. Omnichannel retail strategies involve the connectivity of data across apps and systems. Meaning more usable, comprehensive, easier-to-access customer, contact center, and marketing data, which will bring to light gaps and opportunities across the experience journey and better inform CX decisions in real time.
Customers want options when it comes to researching, purchasing. troubleshooting, and returning products. More importantly, they expect to be able to use these options interchangeably — without sacrificing convenience or value. Omnichannel retail represents a unified approach that focuses on helping customers navigate a singular customer journey through a variety of channels — including the physical store, social media, the web, phone, text, chat, and more.
Value, consistency, simplicity, and convenience are the hallmarks of a great omnichannel retail strategy. That requires providing a fresh yet familiar experience for customers and employees, no matter which channel they are using, or how they move between them.
Avtex combines retail industry expertise with cutting-edge CX strategy, design, orchestration and consultation services. Avtex creates omnichannel retail strategies that identify the gaps and opportunities in your retail customer experiences to facilitate more impactful customer interactions and service engagements within every touchpoint. We help deliver retail omnichannel experiences that drive loyalty, boost business growth, and keep your retail business permanently ahead of the pack.