How to have a successful omnichannel strategy in 2019

Despite the term omnichannel being used in the media and by thought leaders to the point of becoming a bit of a meaningless buzzword, many organizations remain only partially committed to their omnichannel strategy, or worse, don’t even know where to start: According to the CMO Club, 55 percent of companies have no cross-channel strategy in place.

That’s a lot of customers not getting the store-to-online seamless experience they’re demanding.

Is your organization holistically focused on making it easy to deliver an exceptional experience for your customers and employees? You can’t afford not to move your omnichannel strategy forward this year. Here are our tips to push your brand in the right direction.

What does the data say?

Is having a cohesive omnichannel strategy really worth the effort and organizational resources required? Research says a definite yes. According to the Aberdeen Group, companies with strong omnichannel customer engagement retain on average 89 percent of their customers, compared to 33 percent for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.

“Companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement see a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue, compared to 3.4% for weak omnichannel companies.”

The way consumers interact with your brand continue to change rapidly. Marketing Week reported in 2016 that 15 years ago, the average consumer typically needed two touchpoints from a brand when buying an item and only seven percent regularly used more than four. Today consumers use an average of almost six touchpoints with nearly 50 percent regularly using more than four. More touchpoints mean more places you need to be getting it right.

With customers interacting brands on more channels than ever before, neglecting the experience of one channel can be the difference between a customer choosing a competitor or becoming a loyal customer.

Making the shift

The easiest way to begin executing on your omnichannel strategy is by investing the time and resources needed to upgrade all your brand touchpoints. If you’re like most retailers in 2019, your tech is lagging behind current customer expectations — and that chasm will only continue to widen the longer you delay upgrading your systems, because customers will not wait.

According to a shopping behavior survey of 46,000 customers by the Harvard Business Review, seven percent were online-only shoppers, while 20 percent were store-only shoppers. The remaining participants, or 73 percent, used multiple channels during their shopping journey.

Omnichannel retail isn’t becoming a standard. It already is the standard.

Retail technology expert Nikki Baird shared in Forbes, “If retailers are going to transform themselves from product-centric to customer-centric, they must succeed in moving from efficiency to flexibility, from optimization to inspiration.”

You’ll need radical honesty here, from yourself and your team, and the data you need to foster that honesty. Where are you falling behind in delivering a seamless experience? Where do you lose customers online or offline? What are you doing well that you can replicate? An audit is in order, so your team can focus on that flexibility and consistency customers are looking for.

Retailers doing omnichannel right

When working to build out your own omnichannel strategy, look to successful retail brands who continue to showcase how to do things right.

Chipotle

Chipotle was one of the first fast food chains to implement an effective mobile-to-in-store strategy. Chipotle made it easy for customers to order their meal online and pick it up via their mobile app instead of waiting in line.

By knowing that a high percentage of their customers came in during lunch and were often short on time, Chipotle made a deliberate effort to enhance their customers experience through leveraging mobile.

Takeaway: Use data trends to understand your customers' needs inside and out, then improve your brand channels to meet your customers where they are.

Bonobos

Bonobos set up “guideshop" stores where visitors could browse, but not take any products home. Orders are fulfilled online and shipped to the customer without the store middleman. This kept inventory and operations simple, but still came with the benefits of a high-impact touchpoint in-store — "a barrier that so many people value, but most e-commerce companies haven’t broken through yet.

Takeaway: Revisit your stores’ purpose. What could you accomplish in a new location that turns your usual customer experience on its head? Innovate at the distribution level for fresh impact.

Walgreens

Walgreens does an excellent job of upgrading their pharmacy experience by helping connect their customers with hospital networks and other healthcare providers easily on their website.

Graham Atkinson, senior vice president and chief marketing and customer experience offer at Walgreens Deerfield got it right when he said, “From the get-go, we wanted this to be omnichannel, we wanted people to be able to sign-up very easily either in-store, which takes about 30 seconds, or online at home or indeed from people’s mobile devices.”

Takeaway: Be clear on the solution you are ultimately selling to your customers, and leverage your brand channels to make it simple and easy to find that solution.

Ready to use data to deliver an exceptional in-store experience? Let's talk.