With the acceleration of technology and the limitations imposed by a global pandemic, the landscape of retail shopping has dramatically shifted in the past few years. More than ever, your customers expect experiences with your brand to be convenient, personal, and seamless. 

Omnichannel retail experiences are the road map to meeting your customers’ expectations for excellence. Read on for some suggestions, practical solutions, and examples of outstanding omnichannel customer experiences in retail. 

1. Optimize your communication strategies

90% of consumers prefer to interact with brands via messaging solutions. 80% of retail customers begin their buying process from a mobile device. Do your marketing, customer experience, and communication strategies reflect these data points? If not, they should! 

To attract, convert, and retain customers, you’ll need to meet them where they’re at—mobile phones. Your customers are busy and constantly on the move. Knowing this, you can adjust the way you interact with them to be more aligned with their lifestyles and preferences. 

Solution: Texting conversations 

Especially in the upper conversion funnel, you want communication to be convenient for your customers. While chatbots can be extremely helpful and efficient for answering FAQs, 86% of consumers prefer interacting with human agents rather than chatbots. When you enable customers to text you (starting through a webchat service or your Google My Business listing), the conversation isn’t limited to one browser session. 

The texting thread can become the channel for regular interactions including personalized recommendations or promos, inventory checks, delivery notifications, and much more. Texting is preferred by customers and completely manageable to streamline.

Example: Due to COVID restrictions, a clothing store may only permit a limited number of customers inside at a time. With texting, you have the ability to create a virtual waiting room where customers can be informed when it’s their turn to come into the store, rather than waiting in a line outside.  

Or, rather than trying to troubleshoot a returns process over email or phone call, a customer could save time on hold by sending you a picture or explanation via text of the product that needs returned. This would decrease the volume of calls and increase convenience for customers. After the returns process is through, you could send the customer a review request to be completed over text. Rather than bouncing from website to email to phone call, customers can connect with you on the channel they prefer and in a thread they can return to at any time.

2. Reduce friction

Customers love (and expect) the ability to jump from device to device and pick up where they left off as they can with Amazon or Netflix. The expectation for convenience applies all throughout the purchase cycle—shopping, checkout, payment methods, and delivery/curbside/in-store pickup orders. 

But speed isn’t the only expectation; customers also want personalized shopping experiences. Anyone can research online for products and services. But what consumers crave, especially in this time of virtual events and isolation, is a personal connection. Even with hosts of online resources and information, it’s still nice to have the expertise and personal touch of a live agent. 

Solution: Video chat consultations 

Personal video consultations can bridge the gap between the convenience of online shopping and the personalization of an in-store experience. A customer may research or gather info online but have questions that can only be answered by your representatives and product experts. This is where the option to schedule a virtual one-on-one consultation via text will help close the deal. Customers are familiar with video chat platforms in so many other areas of their life—why not in retail shopping?

Example: When all of Mattress Firm’s brick-and-mortar locations shut down due to COVID restrictions, Mattress Firm began offering video chat consultations where customers could speak with an expert and see the in-store options. Even though the physical locations were closed to customers, sales skyrocketed because of the implementation of video chats and mobile payment methods. 

3. Consistently stand out from the competition

Outdated communication methods, slow response times, and inconvenient interactions are sure to drive customers to your competitors. But when you truly focus on customers by interacting with them in the ways they prefer, you’re sure to attract and retain more customers. 

It’s hard to know what channels are converting and what’s not working if your data and customer information isn’t aggregated in one place. When you’re spread out over so many social media platforms, phone numbers, emails, and other channels, it’s important to keep tabs on response times, lead sources, conversion rates, and other success metrics.

Solution: Interaction ManagementTM Platform

In order for omnichannel marketing to be successful, the context has to remain in-sync through every channel and interaction. It’s a challenge to match in-person and various digital experiences in the customer journey. Centralizing leads and interactions with your customers onto one platform can help you understand the behavior of your consumers and adjust your tactics accordingly. 

Example: With Podium’s centralized inbox, social media messages, texts, emails, and reviews can be managed from one location. Whether your customer service team is in a central location or each store manages their own, you’ll be able to analyze and understand each interaction with a customer relationship management platform like Podium. 

Learn more about omnichannel retail experiences for shoppers today in our eBook—The Modern Customer Journey. You’ll find 10 surprising ways you can add texting to your customer journey and delight your retail customers. 

Eric Fuessel
Eric Fuessel Director of Retail & Hospitality Sales

Eric Fuessel is a retail professional at Podium, the leading messaging platform that connects consumer businesses with their customers.

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