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Omnishopper

Optimizing Customer Experience for the Omnishopper

As our economy increasingly depends on digital devices, online retailers everywhere are adapting their sales strategies to cater to a new type of client: the omnishopper. The idea of the omnishopper was studied extensively in a recently released Mastercard study. As you will read in this article, it is a study that is supported strongly by real-world examples. Omnishoppers are defined as consumers who use a broad spectrum of technology in order to make their purchasing decisions. From smartphones to desktops to telephones, omnishoppers demand a social and connected shopping experience.

And with statistics to back up the power of their preferences, they’ll likely get their way.

Eight out of ten global buying decisions are now informed by a digital device, yet nine-tenths of retail spending is still accounted by in-store sales. While the percentage of ecommerce retail sales remains around 10%, using ecommerce as the path to purchase stands at a robust 80%. Despite an increase in the use of technology, customers still prefer the in-store experience. Why? Because in general, ecommerce hasn’t yet matched brick-and-mortar stores’ ability to provide speed, advice to customers, and a social experience. However, it’s important to note that the in-person interactions described in this article are exactly what retail companies should strive to replicate online so that their customer experience can be seamless in both in-person and digital formats.

Shoppers are also more confident than ever, with 80% believing that they are better shoppers than they were a few years ago. This may be partially linked to another statistic: 62% of customers do more product research on a digital device today than they did two years ago. As we know, it is the consumer who has defined and will continue to define retail sales, and the market is now contending with this savvy, better-researched, and more confident omnishopper. How can ecommerce retail stores optimize their customer experience strategies to reel them in?

Motivating the Omnishopper

The growing presence of the omnishopper is forcing businesses to rethink their marketing strategies. But don’t let this new type of customer intimidate you. They simply represent a shift in how consumers are influenced to purchase at a retail store or online.

The top frustration of omnishoppers, picked by  73% of participants, is that the items they want are not in stock. It’s true that any type of shopper would likely be frustrated by this shortcoming, but this miffs the omnishopper in particular because of the time they put into researching a product. You can have all the bells and whistles in the world to get the customer into your estore, but if the product isn’t in stock and ready to ship in a timely manner, you won’t make a sale.

The good news is that these customers are still value-driven. The same MasterCard consumer survey found that the vast majority of shoppers still made purchases based on quality and price.And loyalty is still very much in play, as 70% of omnishoppers like to buy from retailers they’ve bought from before. What don’t omnishoppers care much about? Promotions. According to aMasterCard Omnishopper Key Findings Report, only 18% of omnishoppers said that discounts and promotions was an important factor when making a purchase.

Catering to the Omnishopper

The best way to reach the omnishopper: omnichannel retailing. Omnichannel retailingacknowledges that mobile and social have enabled customers to not only quickly switch between channels (web, mobile, phone, etc.), but actually use channels simultaneously. Engagement has been and continues to be the key. 72% of omnishoppers are engaged through either personalized merchant recommendations — online and in-person — or in-store apps.

Confidence and competence are two words that modern consumers rely on purchasing decisions: confidence that you will be able to give them an online shopping experience without flaws and competency in your interaction with them.

The concept of commitment marketing is a way to target omnishoppers. Commitment marketing takes customer relationships a step further than just encouraging a client to come back and repeat his or her business. This strategy involves customers making a more formalized commitment to a company, like buying a membership, in exchange for receiving certain perks. In a market where consumers are more likely to be loyal and shop at fewer businesses, creating a higher level of commitment is a great way for companies to outpace their competition and strengthen their relationships with all clients and particularly with omnishoppers. The commitment marketing strategy implies a much stronger customer relationship and thus more revenue.

One popular way to implement commitment marketing is through fee or subscription-based models. Jet.com is an ecommerce site that charges customers an annual fee for long-term savings through discounts and quick shipping on an array of products. Amazon Prime is another relevant (and incredibly successful) example of this, with customers paying an annual fee of $99 for free two-day shipping and other perks.

This same membership has become the hallmark for warehouse retailers like CostCo and Sam’s Club. Shoppers commit to an annual expense in order to continue shopping at the retailer and save money in the long run. In the MasterCard survey, omnishoppers expressed that they prioritized value and convenience over loyalty rewards. Commitment marketing is a great way to integrate these preferences into a program that get customers to return.

Another piece of the commitment marketing strategy involves businesses contributing to philanthropic and community causes. Several retailers create giving programs that are related to the products they offer. For example, Dick’s Sporting Goods funds high school sports programs. Tesco, an international grocery stores, has a program that educates kids on healthy habits. Not all retailers link their philanthropy to their industry; Macy’s donates one dollar of every sale towards the Make-A-Wish foundation. Many other retailers support noble causes.  Millennials share an affinity for companies that support charities, as it gives them a greater sense of impact.

Shopper Tracking

Using shopper data and advanced analytics is another tool that can vastly improve the customer experience in a retail location. 51% of omnishoppers blamed the merchants for not understanding what customers wanted. No, you don’t have to be a mind reader. But awareness of shopping trends and buying behaviors can help to customize the experience and provide targeted offers that customers actually want.

Nordstrom, for example, is able to track customers throughout their stores that use their wi-fi. They can track who comes into their store, which sections they spend the most time in, and other customer behaviors. This has allowed them to cater specific online profiles to their customers, where promotions and sales can be customized for shoppers when they log on to their accounts.Certain companies are taking steps to emulate this sort of tracking on their websites, too. Nordstrom also has a very strong social media presence where they encourage customer feedback and incentivize patrons to join their loyalty program to further optimize their tracking and marketing efforts.

Allow Digital Testing

One other significant way retailers are optimizing the online customer experience is by allowing customers to digitally “test” their projects before buying.

A Japanese beauty retailer, Shiseido, has digital “cosmetic mirrors” in their stores that allow for customers to “try on” different kinds of makeup and see what they would look like without actually putting on the product. A customer’s face is put on a digital screen and then makeup shades are put on their face so they can see what they look like with that particular product.

IKEA has an app that allows online consumers to put in product codes, and then using the in-house camera, digitally place that piece of furniture into their home to see what it would look like.

Warby Parker, a notable retailer in the eyewear industry, employs a Customer Experience Team that is responsible for tallying customer insights and personalizing offers. Their app also lets customers know when out-of-stock products will be back in stock. Lastly, they have a try-on program that ships five sets of glasses at a time, and customers can return pairs they don’t like. All of these companies seamlessly integrate digital technology into the in-store experience, a necessity to reach the omnishopper.

The omnishopper presents a new, yet exciting challenge for retail businesses. In order to keep up with new demands, stores need to be innovative in their digital presence, and ecommerce must take the chance to provide the speed and guidance that these shoppers are finding at brick-and-mortar locations. The customer experience is still the number one factor in repeat business; it’s time to upgrade yours to cater to this new 21st century shopper.

Professional writing may be my career, but I am absolutely an entrepreneur at heart. One day I hope to start my own small business and become part of the lifeblood of this great country. In the meantime, I am an avid screenwriter, film buff, and complete and total grammar nerd (and proud of it!).