According to research from NielsenIQ, COVID-19 fueled a 50% increase in U.S. omnichannel shopping last year. With stores shutting down and products and items harder to find, millions of people headed online to research, shop, price check, and purchase. However, not every online experience led to a digital purchase. while approximately 50% ended in an ecommerce purchase according to the research, consumers used other channels to continue on their purchase journey, such as heading to a brick-and-mortar location or placing an order through a phone call to customer service. This is the true essence of omnichannel shopping – using different devices and both online and offline channels along the purchase journey, from initial research to final purchase.
As life continues to return to a new normal, consumers seem to have embraced many of their earlier shopping patterns. Brands should expect to see omnichannel shopping as a much more ingrained way of shopping and purchasing.
According to research by Delighted, consumers are spread out across offline and online channels.
Delighted also provides some excellent examples of how consumers are engaging with brands today across channels, such as taking the following actions:
- See the product in-store and shop online (the showroom experience)
- Research online and then buy in-store (to touch and feel the product)
- Read reviews and compare products while in the store
- See the product in-store and reserve a variant (different color/size) in a different store
- Order on the phone and complete the payment on the website
- Buy online and pick up in person or curbside
- Buy online and deliver from the store
Marketers are Focused on Providing a Consistent Experience Across Channels
Marketers today understand that a consistent customer experience is not a luxury to be provided to consumers but a necessity to stay competitive. The focus therefore has shifted to focusing on providing exceptional and consistent customer experiences rather than “battling over it.” Two-thirds (68%) of those surveyed said their company is increasingly competing on the basis of customer experience and almost two-thirds (64%) reported that their company has become more focused on providing a consistent experience across every channel.
Customers expect these personalized and seamless experiences across channels, and they will walk if they don’t receive the experience they are looking for. More than half (52%) of consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t make an effort to personalize communications to them and 65% of business buyers say the same about vendor relationships.
However, marketers continue to be challenged with coordinated messaging as consumers move from channel to channel. Only about one-quarter are able to evolve their messaging from channel to channel based on customer actions. More than half said that their campaign messages are simply identical messages from one channel to the next.
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Personalizing to this level takes data. The good news is that more consumer data is available than ever before and oftentimes, consumers are willing to provide their personal data for a better experience. Among Millennial consumers, 58% will share personal data in exchange for product recommendations that meet their needs (as will 52% of Gen X consumers). Business buyers also want deeper relationships; 89% expect companies to understand their business needs and expectations.
Begin with your company’s first data party assets and augment these insights with additional data elements to determine your customers’ lifestyles and interests, how they shop, and how to best reach them. More traditional ways of analyzing customers by demographics and psychographics are important, but digital behaviors must also be analyzed for a better understanding of motivation and intention.
Armed with this intelligence about your customers, you can create highly personalized messages and experiences. Customers who feel like they are treated as individuals are more satisfied and in turn, more loyal.
Coordinating Messages Across Channels
Over the past few years, new channels have being introduced into the mix and marketers are now spending more of their budgets on channels they didn’t even know existed 5-10 years ago.
Sixty-seven percent of marketing leaders say creating a connected customer journey across all touchpoints and channels is critical to the success of their overall marketing strategy. A staggering 91% of high performers agree that a connected customer journey across all touchpoints and channels positively impacts customer loyalty. Another 89% say the same for the impact on revenue growth. But overall, only 23% of marketers are extremely satisfied with their ability to leverage customer data to create more relevant experiences. (Salesforce)
Customer experiences are quickly outweighing the “best value for the buck” mentality. Consumers are willing to pay more for positive and consistent experiences as they move from channel to channel, and for those companies who are delivering, research shows they typically grow at double the rate of their competitors. And when you don’t deliver, you can lose your competitive edge very quickly.
You might also be interested in: The State of Omnichannel Marketing