As customer journeys become more complex - involving online and offline touchpoints supported by their mobile devices - it is more important than ever for retailers of all sizes to focus on delivering an omnichannel customer experience, writes Practicology’s Sam Gaunt.
In addition to the growing percentage of retail transactions conducted online, we have witnessed a change in customer behaviour that sees consumers routinely research and plan purchases online before completing them offline. Increasingly that research, planning and even ordering of items happens on smartphones.
Google and Practicology published a piece of research into the experience that 145 retailers across five European markets provide to their omnichannel customers: the Retailer Customer Experience Benchmarking Review. We used a set of benchmarking criteria to assess the ease-of-use of their mobile websites, and whether the service and technology deployed in stores also supported more complex customer journeys.
Here are practical steps that retailers can focus on to improve the omnichannel experience they deliver:
1. Help your online customers find your stores
Make it easy as possible for customers to find important information about their nearest store. Provide an easy-to-use store locator, allow visitors to find store directions, and show opening hours and click-to-call contact details on your mobile site.
72% of Scandinavian retailers in our research provide clear directions and 40% of Netherlands retailers provide click-to-call contact information on individual store details pages.
Netherlands retailer Bever provides an excellent store finder that offers directions via Google Maps. Customers can also filter the store locations based on Sunday and evening opening hours.
2. Support your online to offline customers
Consumers can be disappointed when they identify a product on your website, only to find that it’s unavailable in store. Let your customers know where their chosen item is available by providing in-store stock information online.
84% of Scandinavian retailers in our research show in-store stock information on product details pages, and 40% allow customers to filter products online to show what’s available in a specific store.
Norwegian retailer Power offers a best practice example of this, allowing customers to view online and offline stock as well as filtering product listings based on their immediate availability at a chosen store. This easy to use functionality lets customers either select a fulfilment option or pick up their item immediately in-store.
3. Promote online channels in-store
Call out your online channels in-store to alert customers to other ways they can shop with you. Advertise your website address, promote the use of your mobile app and clearly signpost your click-and-collect area in store.
80% of Netherlands retailers in our research clearly promote their online channels in-store with engaging calls-to-action, while 80% signpost the click-and-collect desk.
Swedish retailer Clas Ohlsen promotes its online channels in-store brilliantly, positioning call-outs on throughout the store. These call-outs encourage customers to shop its extended range of products online 24/7, urging customers to shop using more than one channel.
4. Allow fulfilment through stores
The execution of the delivery and returns process is key to providing a seamless experience. Improve the convenience of your fulfilment proposition and encourage online customers to visit your stores by offering click-and-collect and allowing in-store returns for online orders.
70% of Netherlands retailers in our research offer seamless click-and-collect in all stores, while 92% of Scandinavian retailers allow all online orders to be returned in-store.
Using your mobile website to help bridge the gap between online and offline will provide your customers with a world-class shopping experience and ensures that stores remain relevant in this fiercely competitive trading environment