Creating a seamless omni-channel customer experience

By Todd Wasserman

| Retail

An omni-channel customer experience is now a prerequisite to doing business in 2015. Customers expect that they will be able to connect with a brand through any channel they wish, including mobile, desktop, phone and face-to-face.

Unfortunately, brands are a step behind; many do not yet offer an omni-channel customer experience. An October 2015 survey by The CMO Club, for instance, found that 55 percent of respondents had not yet leveraged or implemented an omni-channel strategy. The primary reason appeared to be funding: 64 percent of marketers surveyed said that “lack of resources and investment” was their greatest road block to carrying out such a strategy.

Enterprises, be warned: According to a recent survey, 57 percent of consumers said they wouldn’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site to their peers. Some 54 percent of consumers also said that they would consider ending a relationship with a retailer if they did not receive personalized content and offerings.

Omni-channel gives a holistic view of the customer

The key to offering such experiences is to reach out to customers through multiple channels and gain a view of the customer with data from multiple platforms. Outdoor clothing retailer Orvis, for example, used an omni-channel approach to marketing and saw profits soar, according to an IBM case study. Previously, the company’s marketers had been unable to ascertain whether a customer visiting one of its stores or its website was a loyal customer. This was partially because Orvis outsourced its email marketing, a critical component of marketing outreach and data collection.

Thanks to an overhaul of its system, every marketing manager at Orvis can now manage data, create campaigns, pull customer lists and track results in real time. Two years after implementing the system, the company posted record profits. It also cut its campaign and recording costs by 88 percent.

Leveraging multi-channel data for offers

Because customers are open to receiving offers from brands across channels, companies that do not do so are missing out on revenue opportunities. Such offers can be bolstered by tapping data and delivering offers at the most opportune time and place. For example, a customer at an electronics store who has that brand’s app on his phone might receive an offer for 10 percent off a big-screen TV and 15 percent off related accessories on his mobile device. After he buys the TV, the consumer might then get a summary of his loyalty points and another offer to earn another 15 percent off all purchases if he forwards a coupon to his friends.

The best solution for today’s customer

Consumers are aware that their data is valuable to marketers. Studies show that most are comfortable with sharing such data if they receive something in return. At the same time, consumers don’t think of email, mobile and in-store as separate silos the way that marketers do. The fact that brands operate this way is more a reflection of the hodgepodge of technologies that have under-girded their businesses — until now, that is.

Going forward, businesses that don’t offer an omni-channel customer experience will find that such customers are often going elsewhere.

Written By

Todd Wasserman

Technology Journalist

A veteran journalist, Todd has held a variety of roles including business editor at Mashable and editor-in-chief of Brandweek. He now writes full time about technology, marketing and advertising, among other topics.

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