Always On’

Along with an evolving retail environment, consumer shopping habits are changing. Are you ready?
Let me start with a few stats:
  • 67% of online shoppers have made purchases in the last six months that have involved multiple channels (Zendesk, 2013)
  • More than 95% of 1824 year olds want store discounts/​coupons via text or smartphone apps (Zogby analytics survey, 2013)
  • En route to a store, 70% of smartphone shoppers use a store locator to plan their shopping trip (Neilsen, 2013)
  • In the past six months, the most popular method for customer query resolution was call (54%), email (48%), self-service portals (27%) and in-store (26%) (Zendesk, 2013)

What lies at the core of these stats? A new type of shopper – the always on’ connected consumer. Consumers have come a long way from simply walking into a store and buying a product. Today, the connected consumer would visit multiple channels – the traditional store, e-retailers, online reviews – before making a purchase decision. Not only does the connected consumer expect your presence across all these channels, but also expects the experience to be seamless and unified throughout. This new consumer has moved from a transactional to an engagement mindset. The key to differentiation is nurturing this mindset and engaging these customers wherever they interact with your brand. 

Only a third of retailers possess the appropriate tools and technologies to put omnichannel into practice.Accenture, 2014
The current state of omnichannel
Today, retailers acknowledge the need for an omnichannel presence, however, only a third possess the appropriate tools and technologies to put it into practice (Accenture, 2014), and only 4% or retailers and suppliers have actually executed an omnichannel strategy (SPS commerce, 2014). Many researchers believe a lack of urgency is to blame. Since traditional stores still generate the majority of sales, some retailers are hesitant to make the required changes to their current strategies.. 

Having said that, retailers do have a focus on omnichannel in their long-term strategy with the most important aspects being consistent customer experience across all channels, inventory visibility, fulfillment and customer order visibility across all channels. 
Omnichannel strategy not only drives greater customer satisfaction and higher top and bottom lines, but also track-able insights.
What this means for you – the Retailer
Incorporating the omnichannel experience into your strategy can seem like a daunting task, however, beginning with a few basics can help simplify the process. Here are four aspects that can give you a head start on your way to becoming a truly omnichannel brand:
  • Inventory visibility: 73% of customers are more likely to visit a store if they can see the in-store inventory online. This could be a first step towards marrying in-store to the online experience of you brand (Forrester consulting: Customer desires Vs Retail capabilities, 2014)
  • Pay online – pick up in-store, or pay in-store – get delivered at home: 75% of customers expect the availability of this feature and expressed that it would sway their decision to purchase the product (Forrester consulting: Customer desires Vs Retail capabilities, 2014).
  • Expert sales aid empowered reps: 61% customers expressed that they were more likely to ask store associates for product recommendations and would appreciate accurate information about product availability and pricing in-store (Forrester consulting: Customer desires Vs Retail capabilities, 2014).
  • Ability to drop ship: If the item wasn’t available in-store, 47% of shoppers would go to another location of the same store or ask a store associate if another location has the same item, where as 45% will go to another store or online to buy it. (Deloitte survey 2013) Retailers can recover 68% of out of stock incidents if they were prepared to drop ship the item to the customer’s homes (Motorola 7th annual shopping study.)

Implementing tools and technologies that can achieve the above are the basic steps into entering the always on universe. The omnichannel strategy not only drives greater customer satisfaction and higher top and bottom lines, but also track-able insights to feed back into the system to help retailers stay ahead of the curve.

In short, the always on’ connect consumer is demanding the always on’ connected retailer.