Consumers rely on smartphones more than ever to help them shop for products and services. MIT’s recent report shows that 80% of shoppers check prices online, with a third accessing the information on their smartphone while inside the store. So what does this mean for businesses? It means retailers need to embrace an omnichannel strategy now. Today’s tech-savvy consumers are expecting a unified experience when they engage with brands. They want to browse online, to check for product info and to check stock availability. They want it on the palm of their hands – on their mobile device. More importantly, it all needs to work seamlessly, easily and quickly. To cater to such a complex set of consumers, companies need to make the most of their omnichannel marketing strategy. It is easy to use and assists retailers selling products. The reason behind the popularity of an omnichannel approach is due to the rising number and type of channels and devices available to consumers to reach and interact with brands. When these channels become available, consumers expect businesses to engage with them appropriately on those channels. Whether you are involved with a brick-and-mortar store or eCommerce, an omni-channel strategy should be utilized. If not, your competition is going to have an upper hand. So what should a robust omnichannel strategy look like? Here are a few tips to creating an effective omnichannel strategy. #1. Build your presence – both online and offline Does your offline popularity reflect upon your online popularity? If not, you need to revise your brand building efforts online. If you think online marketing is a strategy strictly meant for online businesses, think again. According to Forrester Research, nearly 92% of purchases take place offline following online consumer activity. The right online marketing strategy can put your products or services right in front of your customers and prospects when they’re using a search engine to find information about the products they want to purchase. Your online presence can have a very broad reach, and when built successfully, it can spread brand awareness and gain you followers, customers and sales for your offline store. Online and offline marketing should go hand in hand, each driving traffic to the other. Additionally, they should work to engage consumers seamlessly between the internet and the offline store. #2. It is about value and not just about sales When we talk about engagement, it is not always pointing only to sales and profits. Sales for your business can only come when you offer value to your customers. You need to provide value before you can even think about price and how to get back the value as a retailer from customers. You need to have as many channels as possible at hand because it is highly likely that your customers will evaluate you across numerous channels before finally deciding to pick you. #3. Mobilize your in-store experience A positive in-store retail experience becomes ever more important to ensure that you can capitalize on the total lifetime value of the customer. For example, consider this common scenario: you go to a store to buy a product and find it is not available. It might be simply sold out or not the right size or color. You then approach a store assistant to see if they have the product you are looking for. In some stores, the assistant will scan the shelf and tell you right away if the product is in the back room. The shop assistant did not have to go to the back room to check the product, leaving you to wait for minutes. When you get a tech-savvy offline store assistant, it leads to an excellent shopping experience, thus making it likely that you would shop with that merchant again. Arming store assistants with technology can enhance customer experiences. According to Forrester Research analyst Adam Silverman, over 42 percent of customers would engage an employee with a mobile device while inside the actual store. #4. Enhance buying experience You have to get in the customer’s shoes and reflect on the buying process from their perspective. This allows you to determine the relevant steps of decision making which guide the customer to a decision on whether to buy a particular product or not. Amazon is capable of selling hundreds of products per second. In fact, it has millions of items ordered on a daily basis. Why? Is it that its products are less expensive? The success of Amazon has very little to do with the prices they set for products. The reason why Amazon has a huge number of customers is because the site offers a great user experience. Previous positive experiences, one-click checkout, free shipping and easy returns all contribute to the customer experience. So when a person buys something from Amazon, he or she is much more likely to buy again from Amazon. It is not that different when it comes to your business. #5. Monitor and improve It remains the case that many businesses are not properly monitoring, measuring or analyzing the effectiveness of these channels. Remember a single interaction between your business and the customer can make or break a relationship. Businesses must ensure that any interaction a customer has with your business is handled efficiently and leaves the customer satisfied. Ask customers what they think. For example, you may want to ask the customer: “What did you think of your experience using our application?” Use quality monitoring to help improve. By monitoring quality across multiple channels, businesses can learn from their customer interactions and adjust their Ask customers what they think. For example, you may want to ask the customer: “What did you think of your experience using our application?” Use quality monitoring to help improve. By monitoring quality across multiple channels, businesses can learn from their customer interactions and adjust their omnichannel strategies accordingly, leading to better customer service and experiences. Conclusion Whether we admit it or not, today’s customers reach out to stores on their mobile devices, through emails, via text messages, you name it. Customer experience is all about omnichannel. When customers reach out to an online or offline store, they often use multiple channels. That’s why businesses need to offer omnichannel experiences. Having an effective omnichannel strategy can be what will make your business stand out from your competition. 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