How To Connect to Your Customers with Omni-Channel Retailing
Omni Channel retail lessons and how to make them work for you.
In the first blog I tried to explain the concept of omni-channel retail. You can read it here, or in brief, the theory is that the consumer is at the centre of the universe and your communications rotate around being picked and chosen at the users whim.
This is a both simple and complicated process. Instead of thinking about each channel and the message it carries, the process is to think about which channels the consumer will come in contact with, and in what patterns. The marketer must then customise the core brand strategy and message to match these contact points, and create a story for the consumer which will establish a point of purchase.
Let’s consider a medium size retailer selling a variety of consumer goods. The variety of communication channels that can be viewed by its customers are many, so let’s concentrate on the area it can control in-store.
Whether it is in the Window, billboards on the walls, signs hung above the aisles etc, these communication points can make very clear statements regarding special offers and new products. The way the consumer views these are as sign posts, like on a highway, and so we can use them to direct consumers towards points of interest, events and demonstrations. We have now engaged the consumer in a thought process that will make them more open to new products. Don’t forget the consumer who needs to find the item they really need, help them and then suggest other items that might take their fancy via another channel.
In-store newspapers, magazines, radio and tv channels. By using one or more of these you provide another input which is contextual to the experience of shopping, and again promotes the journey towards new products that might be of interest. The shopper engages in this as it is familiar to them, and, without knowing, starts to add value to the messages being expressed.
Mobile sites, sms texts and apps are now all part of the shopping experience. Normally used to compare prices and to find out more about products, reviews, alternatives and what products other shoppers purchased. Mobiles are so close to our hearts and are prized as much as the wallet that holds the cash the retailer needs. Therefore communicating via this medium rewards both the retailer and the consumer, and enriches the experience even further.
Demonstration staff, customer care and counter teams all play their part in communicating the core messages to consumers. Not so much “do you want fries with that” but more family values, luxury, prestige, quality, etc. They must understand and buy into the brand message and repeat it, adding weight to the overall experience.
What kind of messages fit in here?
For example, the retailer wants to project a value offering with a minimum price. This speaks to us all but is of course very difficult to get right. The marketer must always think, does this poster, t.v. demonstration, or mobile message project this premise? If not, the illusion will be dispelled and the user will start to think negatively and therefore stop shopping.
How will users interact with communication?
Consumers in this environment will move from one channel to the next in a near random manner, which is why every message should be open to a follow on to any other. Posters indicating that special offers can be found online can help engage consumers with mobiles, but can also alienate those without, so are not advised. A better promotion of the offer would be contained on the mobile site, or after seeing a demonstration, so insiders feel a benefit and regular shoppers are not aware they could be missing out.
Why is this better than other marketing activity?
By thinking only about the consumer, the marketer is better able to make decisions about what activity to implement and how the consumer is likely to respond to messages and new channels. This type of activity will take some trial and error to get right, but certainly will deliver better results when correctly implemented.
Nick Charles is a Guest Blogger for Branding Personality. He is based in Bristol, UK, a major center for digital marketing and publishing, and grew up in “old reekie,” or Edinburgh, Scotland. More of Nick’s work can be found at www.gibedigital.com and www.gogomobile.co.uk
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