“Omni-channel” has become an omnipresent buzzword in retailing. Its meaning may seem obvious, but as with many big, broad concepts, its applications – how retailers create an omnichannel experience for their customers – can vary dramatically from case to case.
1. What is omnichannel marketing?
Omnichannel marketing refers to the complete range of messaging, marketing, and promotional activities that are coordinated across the multiple communication platforms available today. It encompasses Web activity, mobile sites and apps, call center/telephone contacts, as well as more traditional mass media and direct mail vehicles. And last but certainly not least, it includes the in-store customer experience. After all, stores are still where the vast majority (90%, according to A.T. Kearney’s 2014 Omnichannel Shopping Preferences Study) of sales transactions occur.
Given the brick-and-mortar store’s continuing importance to retailers’ bottom line, it makes sense to understand as much as possible about the omnichannel customer’s experience there. The advanced analytics used in conjunction with today’s sophisticated traffic counting technologies can be invaluable tools for improving the effectiveness of a retailer’s omnichannel marketing efforts.
2. Utilize actionable analytics to determine customers’ in-store habits.
For retailers taking their initial steps into omnichannel activities, they should first use their traffic counting solutions to establish baseline data on store activity, so they will have solid information for future comparisons. Continuous customer counts can reveal when stores are busiest, allowing retailers to align their staffing levels with peak times. Deeper analysis of traffic patterns within a store can reveal whether different departments are over- or under-staffed, by comparing traffic data with point-of-sale transactions for various items.
3. Measure the customer experience based on data gathered.
Retailers can also measure the impact of various promotional activities by charting shopper traffic in the vicinity of promoted items. For example, if an item is strongly promoted on a retailer’s website, or it receives a large amount of digital traffic from users in a specific geographic area, brick-and-mortar stores in the region should reasonably expect an influx of foot traffic from shoppers interested in seeing, touching, or trying on the item in person.
Customer counting solutions that reveal traffic numbers heavier or lighter in specific areas can determine whether a retailer has successfully used online activity to motivate customer visits to a store. Retailers should do all they can to encourage both online and store traffic: survey after survey reveals that shoppers using two (or more) of a retailer’s channels spend more than those using only a single shopping channel.
One danger of today’s omnichannel environment is the “showrooming” phenomenon: customers who examine an item in the physical store but then choose to purchase it on their own mobile device, or via their PC or laptop when they return home. Again, customer counting data that reveals high traffic, particularly in areas featuring heavily promoted items, but without a corresponding rise in store sales of the item, can indicate customers are completing their transactions via another channel – or with a competitor.
4. Create omnichannel marketing goals based on gathered data.
Using customer counting solutions to quantify omnichannel marketing efforts requires gathering data from both existing and new sources, and carefully analyzing this information in new ways. Retailers should first set clear, easily measurable goals, and then build from there. For example, using a website to promote 20% off all sales during a limited time period at a specific store will provide a baseline measure of the motivating impact of online messaging.
Armed with such data, retailers can continuously refine their omnichannel marketing efforts to determine what combination is most effective at boosting store traffic and, even more important, increasing sales conversion rates – whether at the store itself or via their digital channels.