Xiaomi has recently launched an offline-to-online (O2O) solution called Mi Commerce for its retail partners. This service allows people to locate nearby stores that are either run by Xiaomi or those that have tie-ups with the company.
Users can also browse, on this solution, the entire range of smartphones and other products like TVs and electric lamps, and then express their interest to purchase the selected item through the app that would prompt the store to place a confirmation call. Using this solution, last mile contactless delivery will be done by retailers and Xiaomi recommends that people make the payment through UPI-based channels.
It is not just another ecommerce platform, but a hyperlocal discovery platform, claims Xiaomi for whom this is the first step towards an omni-channel retail strategy.
Similarly, the shoe brand Bata also announced that they will now be exploring home delivery of footwear, something that they have never done before.
As consumers will be hesitant to venture out into crowded places to shop, retailers feel this is a good time to develop omni-channel capabilities.
Why omni-channel retail is critical
The more technology advances, the more it’s integrated into our daily lives. The lines between what we do online and in real life will begin to blur. And as people change their behaviors, marketers and sales people will need to react. Instead of thinking of a desktop experience, a mobile experience, a tablet experience, and an Apple Watch experience, they’ll need to pursue one, holistic approach – an omni-channel experience that customers can use whenever they want.
At its core, an omni-channel retail strategy is an approach to sales and marketing that provides customers with a fully-integrated shopping experience by uniting user experiences from brick-and-mortar to mobile-browsing and everything in between.
According to Shopify, customers spend more on brands with a smart omni-channel strategy. So why are only 22% of retailers making omni-channel a top priority?
It may be that it’s easier to measure single variables like efforts focused exclusively on mobile, marketing, or merchandising strategies. But integrating all of these touch points into one omni-channel approach is the only way to fully realise the full potential of each touch point.
For years, Starbucks globally has had one of the best omni-channel retail experiences through concepts like electronic payments, mobile apps, pickup-only stores or third-party delivery networks.
Walmart has also created a success story by adopting omni-channel retail way before others.
“On the different formats through which we are addressing the people, offline and online, we are talking about retail stores, wholesale brick and mortar where players like Walmart, Metro Cash and Carry are operating. And one theme which is running common through all these different players is the idea of omni-channel, because customer taste is changing,” shared Anand Vijay Jha, Chief Public Officer, Walmart, in a webinar organized by The Blue Cicle.
Decoding the “perfect” omnichannel experience
Nearly 75% of shoppers say they use multiple channels to compare prices, hunt for discounts, or use in-store tablets to shop online. That’s not all – omni-channel customers spend 4% more on every shopping occasion in-store, and 10% more online than single-channel customers.
However 80% of retailers admit they’re failing to offer customers a unified brand experience, says Shopify. Of those that are trying, nearly half say they’re not moving fast enough.
All omni-channel experiences will use multiple channels, but not all multi-channel experiences are omni-channel.
The multi-channel experience is what most businesses invest in today. They have a website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter. They use each of these platforms to engage and connect with customers. However, in most cases, the customer still lacks a seamless experience.
The omni-channel user journey, on the other hand, leverages information about one sales channel to invite the customer to participate in another. Those actions feel native to the given channel rather than forced or contrived. Done well, buyers seamlessly transition from one channel to the next, blissfully falling deeper and deeper into the brand experience.
The next steps for retailers
Identify where your target market is spending time and attention and insert your brand at the intersections of those properties. For example, invite admirers of a product showcased on Instagram to a Facebook Live stream offering a product demonstration.
With this in mind, the omni-channel marketer can create powerful cross-channel re-targeting campaigns. Especially after a shopper abandons their cart, earn trust by telling a compelling story with different ad formats (across multiple channels) that illustrates what it’s like to purchase from you.
This is how you become omnipresent—not only are you increasing awareness, but leveraging the trust your target market already has for the channel in which you’re engaging.
The post-Covid world
According to most retailers, ‘phygital’ retail is going to become the new truth because customers would like to go to stores for some items and order others from home or they would also like to browse at home before stepping out to buy. Offline to online and online to offline buying is going to be the way of life and the entire customer discovery process will predominantly become digital.
Digitization will help in re-imagining company operations and meeting consumer demand for rapid fulfilment as the market moves to more omni-channel and delivery-based models.
(Edited by Anu Choudary)