Every year, online shopping becomes more popular with consumers than it was the previous year. In 2016, more than 209 million customers shopped online in the U.S. alone. By 2021, that figure is expected to increase to 230 million, making the U.S. one of the leading e-commerce markets in the world.
Most retailers, event operators and marketing professionals understand the popularity of online shopping. But many don’t realize that customers now expect the online shopping experience to extend to the in-store and onsite experience as well. This is what’s known as an omnichannel experience.
What is an Omnichannel Experience?
Let’s say you’re shopping for a new pair of jeans. You visit a local store because jeans can be tricky to buy online. Once you get to the store, you find a pair that you love but the store doesn’t have them available in your size.
A sales associate checks his device and finds that the company has the jeans you want available online and at another brick-and-mortar location. You decide to have the jeans shipped to your home at no extra cost.
But let’s say the jeans arrive and they don’t fit as well as you’d hoped. You contact the store on Facebook Messenger and a customer service associate helps you return the item.
This scenario is an example of an omnichannel experience. The customer was able to interact with the company seamlessly across a variety of channels. They received a positive experience in-store, online, and across social media channels.
How to Create an Omnichannel Experience
Harvard Business Review surveyed 46,000 customers to analyze their shopping habits. The survey showed that 7% of customers shop online, 20% prefer in-store shopping, and 73% prefer to shop across multiple channels.
If this is the first time you’ve been introduced to this idea, it can seem overwhelming. But fortunately, there are three very simple ways you can get started and improve the shopping experience for your customers.
Find out what platforms your customers are using
What platforms and devices do your customers use daily? Where do they shop most often? This will show you the most effective ways of communicating with your customers and help you better allot your resources.
The easiest way to discover this information is by using an analytics report to find out where your traffic is coming from. This will show you how customers find you and the path each customer takes before making a purchase.
Give customers numerous paths to buy from you
Every time a customer interacts with your business, there should be an opportunity for them to make a purchase. This is true whether they’re buying products, event tickets, seasons passes, etc. If they are on your social media page, for example, they should immediately see how they can purchase the items they’re looking at.
If they add something to the cart on your website, it should show up on the mobile app as well. The point is, each channel works together and provides your customer with an opportunity to make a purchase.
Offer multiple payment options
Finally, you should give your customers a variety of payment options. And no, this doesn’t mean they can pay by cash or credit card. It means they can shop in your brick-and-mortar store but purchase an item through your app.
If they purchase in-store, they pay with a wearable device, digital wallet, contactless credit card, and more. You give them multiple convenient options for how they can make the purchase. This will ultimately reduce the friction of the transaction, increase the velocity of sales and align your payment options with the ever increasing expectations of your customers.
To your success!