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How to Create an Omni-channel Retail Experience

Posted by Avery Walts on Dec 6, 2018
Find Avery Walts on LinkedIn

applestoreImagine this scenario: you quickly pick up a cutting board from a big box retailer on your way home from work. A few days later you’re looking at kitchen supplies on Amazon and realize the same cutting board you purchased a few days ago is on Amazon. The Amazon cutting board makes a more lasting impression because of it’s high quality photos, detailed product information, and solid customer reviews. The cutting board you picked up from the retailer didn’t make as big of an impression because it’s one brand among many, and in fact, you didn’t remember the brand name at all.

This scenario is a common occurrence happening between eCommerce vs. brick-and-mortar shoppers. eCommerce retailers have adopted the brick and mortar style of creating an experience for their shoppers online, while brick and mortar retailers have started selling online and offering online-specific strategies like picking orders up in-store.

Altogether, the trend in stores is to provide an experience. The news will show that retail is struggling and all the malls are closing, but there are also lots of statistics about stores opening as well. In the long run, the winners will be the ones who adopt an omni-channel retailing strategy. In this post we’ll discover why omni-channel sellers need to create an emotional connection both online and off.

Add value for the customer

If you’re a retailer who has found great success online, but not so much in-store, you need to create a reason for people to visit you in person. Set up your store like a showroom. Make it an inviting atmosphere where customers can talk to you one-on-one about your latest products. You could even host events and offer in-store exclusives customers cannot get online. Creating incentives like this is a great way to create loyal customers.

When you can show customers that there’s value in getting them out of the house to purchase your products, you have a much better chance at creating an emotional experience. Set a mood for your store. Create a storyline. Make it a complete experience. And then reflect that vision back into your online store presence if it doesn’t exist there already. The smell of fresh flowers can’t replicate copy on a website.

You can also try eliminating certain items for sale online. Starbucks, for example, stopped selling coffee beans from their website in an effort to drive store traffic. If customers want something bad enough, they will come to your store to get it. Try out this technique for a more seamless omni-channel retailing strategy. Your customers may just realize connecting with your store employees is more valuable.

Educate your brick and mortar employees

Consumers like shopping online because they can typically get more product information than they can on a store shelf. Online product listings are described with every detail and are professionally photographed at every angle. You even see honest customer reviews that you most likely won’t receive from a store employee. If you want to replicate this detailed shopping experience in-store, you should educate your employees.

Now, this might sound like a large task for big box retailers like Target or Walmart, but it can be done. If you find yourself in a situation like the one described at the beginning of this post, you would probably be more likely to remember the brand you purchased at a store if an employee were there to help you with it. Or if the brand had a more dedicated shelf space with product information.

Brick and mortar stores are competing against online products that hold a heap of information, so if your employees can prove they know as much as your site in person, then you can make a sale on the spot. No matter the size of your retail space, educate your employees to be the experts on everything you sell. This will make for a more seamless omni-channel shopping experience.

Blend the two experiences together

To create an emotional retail strategy both online and off, retailers need to blend the two experiences together. Retailers have to build that one-on-one relationship no matter where the customer is shopping.

For example, retailers have to think like their customers. This idea is easy to create online- use targeted ads or offer unique discounts based off of customer purchase history. Some brick and mortar chains like grocery stores offer member IDs for in-store discounts as a way to target their customers, but they need to replicate that online as well. When you allow customers to use a traditional in-store bonus like member IDs online, you’ve got a better chance at creating a blended shopping experience.

Another way to blend the experience is to offer free shipping for in-store pickup. A huge factor in making purchases online is the shipping price. Too much and you could lose the sale. If you offer customers the option to pick it up in-store for free, you can both get them in to see how great your store experience is, and get the product to them faster for free. That way you’re giving them the free shipping perk they enjoy from online shopping and the opportunity to show them your in-store employees can be just as helpful.