In the big box marketplace, terms like “omnichannel” (or “omni-channel”) have been making their way into the marketing lexicon for a number of years. In a nutshell, omnichannel is about providing the same customer experience in-store, online, and through mobile devices. As a strategy to cut down on showrooming, omni-channel retailing is effective at encouraging customers to part with their dollars using your venue, as opposed to just visiting retail giants like Amazon.com. Luckily, the growth of technology makes it possible to create a small business omnichannel strategy for your own company, and check the growth of marketing behemoths.
Part of the idea behind omnichannel is to give customers a consistent experience no matter where or how they choose to do their shopping. This is usually done by keeping the same look and feel for websites, marketing materials, email templates, and mobile sales tools. A seamless approach to engagement, even in areas like TV and radio advertising, creates trust and familiarity in the mind of the customer. This is why it is important to align messaging, brand image, and even colors used on websites and print ads, so people have no doubt about who you are and what you do. Loyal customers, who know they can shop with you in a variety of media, are less likely to stray even if the initial encounter was in a store and the buying decision was made online after hours.
Some ways that small business owners can create an omnichannel experience involve the use of gift cards, loyalty rewards, and the leveraging of technology. For example, POS systems can align with online shopping carts to collect information on customers and their shopping patterns. A little homework and brainstorming can be used to market toward groups of like-minded buyers, who will still get a sense of personalization. Furthermore, getting more insight into your best clients also lets you adjust your marketing and take a proactive approach toward driving sales. You may send out electronic coupons, advertise specials, or even adjust in-store displays based on popular buying patterns that come from mobile and online sources.
Combating showrooming is also a key goal of omni-channel as well as brick-and-mortar stores. With showrooming, people come into your shop to examine products, then typically make an online purchase that costs less even when shipping prices are factored into the equation. Big box retailers have lost market share to online outlets, and are offering price-match guarantees as a way to preserve the in-store advantage. Some stores also use salespeople to promote features and benefits, and offer accessories as a way to show the added value of an immediate purchase. In other instances, extended warranties or service offerings are offered.
Personalization goes a long way toward building loyalty for small business owners, and old fashioned customer service is nothing to be sneezed at when it comes to competing beyond price. Aside from tugging at customer heartstrings, the ability to offer value-added products and demonstrate product knowledge may keep people from reaching for mobile phones. Anytime you can offer product reviews or give up-front information you have an edge over the Internet, but if you can get people excited about the product or your store you can build loyalty that goes beyond price. Even if you have a small shop, you can add tags with QR codes to your own website, which shows more product details in a positive light.
Even for a small business, the investment in omni-channel (or a multi-channel variant) does involve a bit of time and knowledge. You may need to modify your social media presence, change ad layouts, upgrade your website, and even re-paint your store. Choosing a good logo and branding is one way to stay in the mind of your customer even when the initial store visit is over, and a positive impression plus an easily remembered web address can keep you competitive. By coordinating all the ways people can buy something from your store, and keeping a united front on all of your marketing outreach, you don’t need to hire a big budget agency to ascertain sales attribution vis a vis multiple channel segments. Instead, you can just relax and check your bank balance.