Omni-channel Success: Engaging with customers in a consistent, personalized way across all channels


Retailers will be able to deliver the ultimate customer experience across all retail touch points every time, when they are able to have a single view of their customers, irrespective of the channels. For this, retailers will have to stop focusing on the channels and instead start concentrating on how to deliver the right omni-channel experience to every individual customer. They will need to stop treating online stores and physical stores as two separate entities. If the marketing communication and messaging are not consistent or personalized across all channels, the shopping experience will also be fragmented and suboptimal.

Delivering a superior, personalized omni-channel experience pivots upon merging the information retail owners get from online/mobile with the in-store customer behavior. As a preemptive measure, retailers must take cognizance of the fact that omni-channel shoppers switch between channels at will and choose whatever is most convenient and effective at that instant. It is at this juncture that retailers need to get their act right by making that experience feel cohesive while making sure that the messaging is consistent and personalized at every touch point. This demands a unification of customer interactions across all retail channels, which banks upon having a single unified view of the customer.

To be able to gain that single view of the customer, retail businesses must be capable of assimilating all the data available at their disposal, which includes shoppers’ online behavior and browsing history, in-store and online purchases, preferred products and modes of payment, to name a few. Since this data has to be derived from multiple sources, it is essential that retail businesses be equipped with fully integrated retail management systems. Also, they need to tap into the power of advanced analytics to make sense of the enormous amount of information coming through the systems and unify it so they can deliver the personalized brand experiences that today’s customers expect.

With the help of the unified data, retail companies can offer personalized shopping experiences with content that is targeted and tailored for the individual customer and is not channel based. Armed with this knowledge about the customer along with intelligent CRM integrated point of sale (POS) systems that display shopper profiles, in-store sales associates can recommend products, suggest relevant cross-sells, and even save the sale if an item is out of stock at that time. Similarly, online stores can offer recommendations to shoppers while they are researching or purchasing to aid them in their decision making and drive them to make the purchase and sometimes achieve up-sells. Hence, engaging in a consistent, personalized way across all channels will help retail businesses achieve omni-channel success.

Omni-channel Success: Bridging gap between customer expectations and omni-channel retail execution


New age shoppers are connected, digitally savvy, always-on and at will, switch between channels while shopping. They expect retail brands to understand them better. After all, they are well aware that retailers these days are capable of capturing data – from customer details to how, when, what and where they make their purchases, and also what they are researching online. In other words, customers know that retailers can use the data to formulate an idea of their interests and motivators for purchase. As a result, customers’ expectations have gone beyond mere transactions. However, retailers today are falling short when it comes to satisfying consumer expectations for personalized, relevant shopping experiences.

While 69% of companies said they offer a superior online experience, 51% customers left a company that failed them online. Further, 81% companies said that they have or are close to having a holistic view of their customers, only 37% of consumers agreed to the fact that their preferred retail brand actually understands them. These statistics clearly highlight the gap between customer expectations and retail businesses’ understanding and execution.

How can retailers start to offer a seamless customer experience across channels and rise above the customer expectations?

In order to successfully implement seamless and personalized omni-channel shopping experiences, retailers require a single 360 degree view of their customer. Simply put, retailers need to have comprehensive information about their customers – their details, buying behavior, preferred channels, and so on. Not only this, the data should be handy with retail organizations to proactively plan and implement relevant offers and communications. This is possible only when the brand becomes truly customer-centric and leverages the information gathered to understand their omni-channel customer better.

By investing in the right omni-channel retail technology, retail businesses and brands have abundant opportunities to know their customers and engage with them, no matter which channel the customers prefer.

Merry shopping and prosperous retailing!

ETP blog festive season tips

Christmas and New Year are just around the corner and shopping during this time of the year is at its peak. Amongst the festive shopping chaos, retailers and shoppers need to get their act right so that they do not miss out on anything – the maximum margins for retailers, and the right products for shoppers.

While shoppers – they are the ones who are connected – have the power of choice, the option of using multiple channels and alternatives through intense competition amongst brands. At this juncture, shoppers only know one thing, to get what they want, and they would not hesitate to switch between channels or for that matter even between brands, to do that. It is at this juncture that retail businesses can seize the opportunity to make their mark on the customers and step ahead of their competition.

Here’s how:

Connecting all the way – Gone are the days when the transaction marked the end of the sale and engagements were limited to product queries and purchases. Today, when customer expectations have reached new heights, better customer interaction is one of the necessities for retail owners to take cognizance of. They need to constantly engage with their customers, right from the product research stage till the next purchase, and it does not end there. Some benefits of connected retailing would be nurturing brand-customer relationships, enhancing customer loyalty, knowing the customers purchase history better and tailoring offerings to the customer’s tastes.

Choice is bliss – It should be the top prerogative of the retail businesses to add to the festive cheers by offering customers ample choices – be it products, prices, channels, promotions, and so on. Having said that, retailers should not overwhelm their customers with choices such that they are unable to make a decision. Rather, they should help their customers in choosing the right product that would be the best fit for the customers’ needs. Having the required quantity of merchandise and inventory, appropriate pricing of products, relevant and attractive promotions, and cross-channel operations­ are some of the necessary measures retailers need to take for providing a better and choicest shopping experience.

Creating the ho, ho, ho omni-channel experience – Retail businesses need to go omni-channel as it is the new norm and there are no two ways about it. If a customer would like to research for a product online, purchase the product in the store and expects it to be delivered at home, the retailer needs to manage the whole process seamlessly and satisfy the customer’s expectation. This would delight the customer since they are being offered a unified and seamless experience throughout their shopping journey regardless of the channel they choose to interact with. Investing in the right omni-channel retail solutions will allow retailers to spread the festive joy through superior customer experience and ring in more sales.

To make the Christmas shopping season truly merry, retail businesses need to be connected with their customers all the time, help them with the right choice, and provide them with a seamless omni-channel customer experience. This will help the retailers and their customers have a happy and prosperous New Year.

The Last Mile In Customer Engagement

As the retail market becomes bigger for the global consumer, a premium is placed on creating extraordinary brand experiences. That is what keeps the customer relationships intact in an increasingly competitive arena. Following are a few examples of how brands have managed to carve out a superior brand image and relationship quotient with the customers.

ETP blog retail-customer-engagement

Anticipatory service at the Apple store begins for customers even before they arrive in the flesh. With the Apple store app, a customer can schedule an appointment with the store staff – who will be able to prepare for their arrival at the Apple store and be available to personally guide them. The results are benefits for customer and company alike. For the company, the benefit is level scheduling of demand, a Lean process principle. For customers, the app eliminates wait times and promises undivided attention, something hard to find elsewhere in retail. Then it gets even more personal.

While IKEA’s print offering is its most enduring piece of content marketing, it only scratches the surface of the brand’s exemplary content marketing efforts, which are many and varied and all revolve around one common mission: to improve people’s everyday lives. “We really look at how people live their lives at home,” says Christine Scoma Whitehawk, Communications Manager for IKEA U.S. “So, we really start with the customer, and try to see what’s important to them… And then how can IKEA help them so that we are truly partners in making their life better at home every day.”

Starbucks is masterful at wrapping its product in a deeply-textured in-store experience. The choice of furniture and fixtures, the names of its drinks, the messages on the cups, the graphics, it’s all been studiously crafted. It creates a unique ecosystem of customer interactions, attention to smallest details with quality products, all weaved together. It ensures value fulfilment across multiple channels. “The mobile-order-and-pay, a totally unique technology, is the single most important innovation that Starbucks will introduce this year.” says Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.