Multichannel, omnichannel, what-channel? Today needs to be less about the channels, more about the journey! As the online world becomes as real as the high streets we walk down, retailers need to focus more on the customer journey than on individual channels
In its early stages, ecommerce was a very separate entity to traditional bricks-and-mortar stores, with online shopping considered fundamentally different from shopping in-store. More than 20 years after the launch of Amazon and eBay, the Internet’s impact is still reverberating through the industry. eCommerce sales in the UK will double in size over the next three years to £645bn. The UK has the world’s largest eCommerce sector with a 14% ecommerce share of the retail market. So, in a world where everything and everyone is online, there is no offline!
Kibo’s Digitally Demanding Consumer report found that 95% (of 3000 consumers in the UK and US surveyed) prefer an omnichannel service whilst shopping. In fact, if brands are unwilling or unprepared to go omnichannel, the trend is accompanied by a dramatic erosion of consumer loyalty: *
Evidently, customers are happy to ‘channel-hop’ between online and physical touchpoints in a journey where they could research product reviews online, compare features with friends on social networks, reserve products on an app and pick it up in-store. And yet, retailers are still investing inappropriately across available touchpoints
“Many organisations have an unconscious bias whereby they assume that their digital-savvy customers (born digital/stay digital) are the most profitable, largely due to a lower cost to serve and a greater opportunity to woo them through personalised content and tailored services,” Rachel Barton, Managing Director at Accenture Strategy. “This belief has led them to over-invest in digital capabilities and channels so they can give customers (particularly millennials) more digital experiences that they supposedly crave. However, the assumption is not entirely accurate, and it could cost UK organisations £221 billion.”
In the retail world today, online and offline channels are merged into a seamless whole. The divide now is not between online and offline, but the gap between consumers’ digital behaviours and expectations and what retailers can offer and their ability to deliver on them.
As the marketplace becomes more and more overcrowded, many retailers failing to evolve will fade. But, retailers in the right frame-of-mind will see this shift in consumer expectations as a time of great opportunity. By putting the customer first and building the right models around them, they will be able to meet today’s consumer needs: a more compelling, more advanced, more convenient shopping experience. In 2016, this should be standard thinking!
Retailers need to find the value in each channel as part of the customer journey and not in how to make customers buy on each journey. Too often, retailers are driving consumers towards making a purchase, which is in effect the end of the journey. Retailers need to focus less on individual channels and piecing them together and more on the holistic customer journey and experience.
“Omnichannel is more than simply adding mobile and social media to the mix. It creates an interconnectedness across all touchpoints, blurring the distinction of the channels for the consumer, and acknowledges the importance of a 360 customer journey”, Lynette Deutsch, CEO, The Endaba Group