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TechBytes: Three Omnichannel Gifts for Your Customers


As the retail industry enters the home stretch of the holiday season, it’s a fitting time to think about not just the gifts your customers are giving their loved ones, but gifts you can give your customers. Not gifts in the form of cash or merchandise (though surely your customers would gladly accept them), but gifts in the form of omnichannel features and services. Consider giving the following three omnichannel gifts to your customers for the holidays and beyond, if you haven’t already.

True ‘Seamless’ Engagement

The concept of omnichannel retailing, or retailing conducted across all channels without silos, has been slowly evolving toward seamless retailing, or a singular retail experience that touches customers everywhere they research, browse or buy products. Retailers are making strides toward things like consistent product assortments and letting customers pick up and return online purchases in physical stores, but they can still do much more.

Seamless retailing isn’t just about making sure your Facebook storefront offers the same prices as your tablet e-commerce site. It’s about literally touching your customers everywhere they are. That means offering services like curbside pickup of mobile and online orders, interactive digital maps of stores, and creation of digital shopping and wish lists by scanning item barcodes.

Mobile Optimization

The philosophy underlying omnichannel retailing is that all channels are equal. However, retailers must recognize that mobile has become “first among equals,” so to speak. Mobile traffic and sales still only account for a small fraction of total digital sales for most retailers, but the growth rates are nothing short of explosive. Customers, especially all-important Millennial shoppers whose loyalties are not yet formed, are increasingly using mobile devices as their first or even only connectivity tool.

The best omnichannel gift retailers can give their mobile customers is to recognize mobile’s top standing by offering digital commerce sites specifically designed to work with the technical features and form factors of both smartphones and tablets (i.e., a separate template for each). Retailers also need to target the needs of mobile shoppers with in-store beacons that provide personalized interactions with consumer mobile devices, as well as offerings such as proximity-based mobile discounts and mobile wallet and payment services.

The Human Element

At its very best, omnichannel retailing does not replace traditional (i.e., human-based) retail services but enhances them. This holiday season, remember that even your most digitally connected customers are still human beings and may want some level of human interaction. Make sure automated call center and customer service offerings still allow consumers to easily and quickly connect with a live human customer service agent.

In addition, the in-store omnichannel experience should include features like store associates armed with tablets that let them quickly locate inventory and provide tailored, real-time discounts. And customers who opt-in should be immediately identified by their mobile device as soon as they enter a store and receive personalized assistance from an associate who has access to their buying history and preferences.

Beyond the store, letting customers use social media to share potential purchases with their friends or get unfiltered feedback on your products and services from a community of shoppers are other ways to humanize the omnichannel experience. Because the holidays are all about people, and so is retailing.

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