The COVID-19 crisis has led to dramatic shifts in consumer behaviour, and it is now making curbside pickup much more valuable to customers than ever before. A few years back, a customer’s journey used to be a single trip to the store but things have changed now. The future of shopping is here, now customers expect malls to cover their needs irrespective of the channel that they use.
According to First Insight, more than 40% of shopper’s decisions on buying have already been impacted due to fear. More specifically, 29% are using services to buy products online and deliver it to their homes, while 18% are preferring curbside pickup.
Challenges faced by malls due to new changes in customer preferences are
● Lack of customer data insights
How can malls adapt the new changes in customer preferences?
● By increasing the investment in the digital market, brands can partially decrease the foot traffic in physical stores.
● Brands can enhance customer experience by bringing an in-store feel to their digital experience.
● By Transforming store operations, brands can adapt to the increasing changes in the current market.
How Omni-channel comes in the picture?
According to a survey conducted by Fluent, around 47% of shoppers who engage with retailers across ten or more channels make purchases from their favourite retailer’s website at least once a week, compared to just 21% for those who engage across one to four channels.
Source : Fluent
Rather than using single channels in isolation, Omnichannel brings brands the ability to deliver a seamless customer experience that melds the advantages of physical stores with the purchasing experience of online shopping.
Here are some topline findings from the study that shows how Omnichannel is used to provide a better customer experience
Personalised experiences: In today’s competitive world, customers expect brands to cover their needs irrespective of the channel that they use. According to investopedia.com “Repeat customers spend 300% more money than one-time buyers. Return customers would also be likely to buy more expensive products or services.” When using an Omnichannel, no matter what channel the customer has chosen, each channel the customer uses will interact with your updates and automatically responds to the customer’s needs, making the customer’s buying experience as affordable and timely as possible which in turn increases positive brand recognition and repeat customers.
Procurement: With an increase in the number of sales, the retail operation becomes more and more complex, which makes it difficult for brands to reduce costs and satisfy the demands of customers. Retailers can overcome this issue by updating new management which is better suited for today’s competitive market. Omnichannel helps to tackle this problem by:
1. By ensuring a smooth purchase process and managing purchase orders and suppliers in a single-view system.
2. Manage end-to-end purchasing process and create purchase orders fast on business trends.
Consistency across sales channels: Customers continuously move between different channels and devices or use a few channels simultaneously. Omnichannel increases customer base by providing consistent information on all channels they visit, according to a study by Forrester “When the information isn’t available, shoppers may stay away”. With the help of Omni-channel customers can connect all your e-commerce channels of sale and get a unified view.
Order Management: Running a retail business means that you have to deal with a high volume of sales orders every day and brands need to hire or train staff every time they add a new channel of sales. Having a well-functioning automated order fulfilment system is crucial, which can help in cataloguing, listing, inventory update, order fulfilment, etc. which will reduce shipping costs while still meeting your customer’s expectations.
Checkout: Optimising the checkout process is one of the crucial tasks for e-commerce businesses to grow revenue and deliver an exceptional online customer experience. By using Omnichannel customers can create orders, process checkout, make payments and view order activity in real-time, thereby making customers’ purchasing experience smooth and convenient.
Customer support management: Customer support management is used to respond to any inquiries that the customer has and resolve the issues as soon as possible. By utilising omnichannel solutions, brands can enable buyers to raise tickets on the platform, and manage issues regarding the product and orders so that brands can better satisfy the needs of customers on the go.
Return Management: According to a study by Forrester “around 86 per cent of customers expect to be allowed to return online orders in the store” which makes it difficult for the malls to handle return and refund. By using omnichannel vendors can easily manage refund requests by issuing store credit to the customer, which can later be used to fund additional purchases by the buyer.
Feedback management: Customer feedback is essential for any business, and malls are not any different, by using omnichannel customers can rate products and share feedback on their purchasing experience. The feedback is then made visible on the marketplace and vendor profile page (back end), enabling other customers to make well-informed purchase decisions.
Coupons and promotions: Who doesn’t love an attractive discount? We live in a world where customers buy more if they find a discount on a product, this is where Omnichannel can help malls in better showcasing these discounts on their dashboard/feed so that customers can better utilise the discounts and purchase accordingly.
Search/Filter: Gone were the days when customers searched the entire section to find a single product, things have changed now. Omnichannel enables customers to easily search via relevant keywords, search filters, images and sort, which in turn will significantly improve their customer experience.
Digital payments: Omnichannel enables customers to choose from various payment options (debit card, credit card, net banking,. etc.) so that customers can pay conveniently using their preferred channel.
Chat Management and Ticketing: In today’s digital world, customers don’t like to be kept waiting for their inquiries/issues, Omnichannel can enable vendors to chat with buyers easily and answer any queries they have related to products, payments, return policies so that customers can take appropriate decisions regarding their buying preferences.
The above points are used to showcase how omnichannel can be used for improving their customer experience, below is the list of some other benefits of using Omni-Channel that can improve brand operation
● Better Data Collection and analysis: By using Omni-channel brands can use the insights derived from different channels and can find out more about competitors, marketplaces, and products which in turn will drive higher sales and enhance the customer experience.
● Automation: Brands can automate essential repetitive functions, which can save 25-40% costs on average per order on daily onboarding, account management, finance and supply chain functions.
● One-stop solution: By using Omni-channel brands can have a smooth purchase process, manage purchase orders and suppliers with the help of a single-view system which will give them a competitive edge
● Brand Visibility: Omnichannel helps the brands to place its message across different channels in a timely and consistent manner. In that way, whenever the customer encounters a brand, they get a personalised customer experience.
● Cost-Effective: A well thought out sales framework can reduce the cost compared to conventional retailing. Brands can benefit from the insights derived from the data collected in a particular channel to help them achieve better cost-efficiency.
● Increased Sales: The omnichannel allows customers to make purchases from wherever they want, which in turn increases the sales of the organisation.
Running a retail business used to be about offering the right product at the right price, But now it’s more complicated than that, to succeed in today’s competitive world, organisations must blend digital and human capabilities with proper planning and a comprehensive supply chain. Omnichannel marketing means being where your customers are. Brands can better tackle the current situation by having well-planned crisis management to learn from the current situation and prepare better for the future.
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