5 lessons you can learn from the omni-channel masters

Try as you might to entice customers to download your app or visit you on the web, people don’t self-identify as online shoppers or mobile users. People shop in the way that’s most convenient for them at the time, whether that’s on their smartphone, tablet, or in a physical store.

To get new customers and satisfy existing ones, you need to adopt smart omni-channel practices. An analysis by MasterCard found that omni-channel drives higher spending at retailers than online or in-store shopping alone, and brands that are optimising the customer experience across multiple channels are reaping the benefits.

Sephora and Warby Parker are two companies that have gone above and beyond to please shoppers online and offline. Sephora was the top brand in L2’s annual specialty retail study for the third consecutive year. And by moving into physical retail, Warby Parker has created stores that sell US$3 000 per square foot.

These companies and others have set the gold standard for omni-channel practices, but you can emulate their success with these five key principles:

1. Make It Easy for People to Buy

It takes a special kind of retailer to make sure a shopping cart follows people around wherever they go. Sephora’s “My Beauty Bag” program rewards loyal customers with unparalleled convenience. Shoppers can view their purchase history and reorder their favourite products from any device. They can buy directly from Sephora’s app or use it to add to their brick-and-mortar experience.

Make it easy for people to buy your products no matter what channel they’re using. When the shopping experience is seamless and convenient, they’ll reward you with loyalty.

2. Replicate in-Store Features Online

As an online eyewear retailer, Warby Parker faces the challenge of selling glasses to customers who aren’t near a store. Its website is already equipped with a virtual try-on feature for desktop, but it’s seeking to bridge that gap even more with mobile technology.

Warby Parker is developing an app that uses shoppers’ smartphone cameras to note pupillary distance and show them how eyewear will look. Developing the new app will likely cost millions, but it will optimise Warby Parker’s interactions with its customers.

Find a way to offer major value to people during their first experience with your brand, and you could impress them enough to visit your physical location.

3. Optimise Online and Offline Customer Service

Warby Parker’s investment in new customers doesn’t stop at developing an incredible new app. It understands that buying prescription glasses online still feels risky, so it sends people five sets of loaner frames through the mail to model for friends and family. It also rents retail space in big cities where customers can try on glasses before they make a purchase, and all of its glasses are returnable.

People don’t always see online purchasing as a sure thing, so it’s up to you to curb their hesitation by providing exceptional customer service across all channels.

4. Give Your Customers More Options

Just as Warby Parker offers plenty of convenient opportunities for customers to mull over their glasses and try them on, retailers such as Target are also using omni-channel strategies to give people a wealth of convenient buying options. Shoppers can make purchases in person, online, or through a mobile app, then ship items to a nearby store and pick them up or have the items shipped to their homes.

Target has also gone the extra mile to personalise the online experience. It even acquired Powered Analytics to bring an Amazon-esque personalised shopping experience to online and mobile. The more options you give customers, the easier it will be for them to push the buy button.

5. Incorporate a Clear Call to Action

Even when you have many ways for people to buy, you still need to tell them how to take action. Taco Bell has created a seamless ordering experience for customers with its new mobile app. Orders placed in the app are 20 percent higher check averages than those placed in store.

Take advantage of dynamic location by showing people the closest brick-and-mortar store and giving them all the information they need to make a purchase.

Brands such as Sephora and Warby Parker have blazed a trail across multiple channels. You can become an omni-channel master by following their path. Once you understand the dynamic nature of people’s shopping habits, you can find small ways to grow your online and offline presence, improve the customer experience, and make the buyer’s journey ridiculously simple.

How are you working to optimise the customer experience online and in stores?


Originally published at ventureburn.com on March 24, 2015.

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