Omnichannel is Dead. Long Live the Customer!

Alison Wiltshire

06 Aug 2019

Steve Dennis’ recent article in Forbes that omnichannel is dead was music to my ears. I don’t think I’ve ever hated a word so much!

It’s a word that meant something and nothing – different things to different people. It was frequently misused and certainly not one that customers would have understood or recognized.

As consumers, we just shop – wherever, however, and whenever we want.  Channels are for TV or radio stations – not customers.

The customer is the channel.

The other increasingly lazy and over-used headline of the last few years that the physical store is dead equally enrages me – customers still shop in physical stores.

A retailer that innovates, blends the physical and digital worlds whilst reducing friction and drives a personalized customer experience will survive – clever use of technology will help to achieve this.

More than three in five consumers feel retail technologies have improved their shopping experiences according to a new report from NRF: Consumer View: The Robot in the Room.

Taggstar understands this.  We have been helping retailers like Matalan, Joules, JD Williams, Missguided and Shop Direct to enrich their customers’ online buying journeys by interjecting social proof messaging into their eCommerce sites with demonstrable results – retailers have seen conversion rates jump by up to 12% and revenue by in some cases millions.  Cart abandonment rates have also reduced for one retailer by 2%, which has also seen add to cart volumes increase by 1.5%.

This is why Taggstar is moving in-store. We want to help retailers to enjoy the same success in their physical stores by bringing real-time social proof messaging to customers as they are browsing and shopping in-store. Sixty-six per cent of consumers agree that technologies and innovations improved their in-store experience (Source: NRF).  Millennials, in particular, say it is important that retailers offer innovation or technology that helps them shop.

It is true that many retailers both sides of the Atlantic have over-extended their footprint and need to rethink their strategy, but at its heart retailers need to evolve and embrace digital transformation. In the US, seventy-five per cent of retailers say the need for digital transformation has increased since 2016 – in the UK one-third of retailers expect to invest up to £500k in technology in the next 18 months alone. (Source: Retail Week. A world in motion report).

Technology can be used to entice the customer into the store and also to delight and engage them whilst in-store and to personalize their experience. Nieman Marcus in the US and Sephora in the US and Europe are retailers who do this particularly well in my opinion. Sixty-seven per cent of customers say they will pay more for a great experience according to Salesforce so this is an opportunity to increase revenue too!

In recent years when retailers have made IT investments, they have typically done so online, not least because recent predictions from Forbes have stated that online sales are growing more than six times the rate of in-store sales through 2022.  Consequently, therefore, typically a retailer’s online experience has been a deeper, richer and is becoming increasingly a more personalized experience than that we enjoy in-store.  This needs to change.

Thirty-four percent of people enter a real store without really knowing what they want (Source: Perch, Calculating the Hidden ROI of In-Store Digital Initiatives).  When they do this online, social proof messaging signposts them to products that are hot, that are trending, are best sellers to help them make purchasing decisions – and this isn’t the voice of the retailer or the brand, but people like them.  Today’s customers want honesty and transparency – and there nothing more transparent than real-time data and feedback from real people.

When social proof messaging is used in-store at the point of consideration whether that is when the customer is browsing in-store and picks up a product and gets not only product information displayed on screen but also social proof messaging pops up telling them that it is hot, 100 people are looking at that product right now online, or for international retailers, even what is the best- selling handbag or trainer for example by country or globally.  Equally, if they are trying an item on in the fitting room they can be reassured that 64 people rated it 5* for fit, it’s very powerful!

Consumers want retailers to focus on technologies and solutions that take the guesswork out of the pre-purchase experience! (Source: NRF)

For the in-store browsing and fitting scenarios described above to be technically possible the products would need to be RFID tagged – which let’s be honest is becoming increasingly the norm on both sides of the Atlantic. In the UK, high street brands like Zara, River Island, Matalan, M&S, John Lewis and in the US – Target, Kohls, Macy’s to name just a few have widely publicized RFID implementations.

Increased ROI from RFID implementations comes from extending into digital customer engagement solutions. By tagging the items with RFID you have effectively given the ‘product’ it is attached to ‘a voice’ …let it speak for you and engage with the customers.

Even where RFID hasn’t been deployed run of store-in-store digital solutions showing the latest products or promotions can include compelling social proof messaging to help, guide, create FOMO and drive an uplift in basket size and conversion rates.

For retailers that are reassessing their physical estate strategy and moving to smaller footprint stores, digital engagement solutions in-store are not a choice, they are essential.  They enable customers to access to the retailer’s whole inventory rather than just what is physically present via the endless aisle concept.  Perhaps viewing products on a small screen or tablet and once they’ve found the item ‘flinging’ the image up to a larger screen to see the product in more detail – again social proof messaging can be interjected to enable the customer to see in near real-time what others are saying about the product – how many people have bought that product in the last 24hrs for example – stock is running low.  All messages which reassure and drive FOMO = conversion and sales uplift.

Taggstar works with M-Cube Digital Engagement to bring its technology into the store.

Try our social proof messaging today to convert customers across all your channels.

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