It seems like omnichannel is discussed everywhere in retail these days. However, even with all this talk, there isn't significant content about the specific customer buying behaviors that omnichannel should solve.
So, as a way to get the discussion going on, we'll share three customer buying behaviors that omnichannel should focus on and by doing so, should generate incremental revenue for the merchant.
Definition of Omnichannel
Before we share the buying behaviors, let's ground ourselves with a definition. Although there are several floating around, we define omnichannel as:
Omnichannel is a customer focused approach that works alongside the customer as he or she interacts with the merchant. With omnichannel, when a customer engages in a particular channel, his or her prior interactions in other channels are known and that knowledge is used to optimize the interaction in the current channel. Omnichannel should also leverage knowledge of one other huge "channel" - what's going on in the outside world. This includes information like location, weather, traffic and national / local events.
Three Customer Buying Behaviors Omnichannel Should Solve
1. Buy online, pick up in store
Ok, this is definitely not new. Many merchants, like The Container Store, have implemented this customer solution as it delivers real value to the shopper. The shopper gains the efficiency of the website purchase process and same day fulfillment of an in store visit while minimizing the time spent at the store. Implementation requires in store operational changes; namely, establish a process to receive these orders from online channel, have staff available to package order, and create a customer service line for customers to pick the orders up. In addition, the merchant must work through supply chain and inventory management requirements in order to ensure items bought online are available at the local store.
2. Right offer, right time, right place
As the shopper fluidly moves back and forth and across channels, he or she seeks information during the buying process. This includes marketing offers, as a way to identify saving opportunities, but it must be relevant and timely.
Ideally, a merchant would want a 360 degree view of all the shopper activity and be able to uniquely identify the shopper at each and every channel interaction. This would enable the merchant to best select which offer to present and ensure consistency across channels.
However, the 360 degree view will not be available in all cases and for every merchant. Fortunately, it's not needed to optimize marketing offers. Classification algorithms coupled with real time decision capabilities can take whatever data is known at the channel interaction (e.g., customer transaction history, mobile identifier, IP address, profile data) and assign the customer to a micro segment. Optimization algorithms will decide which offers are best for each micro segment. Again, knowing exactly who the customer isn't necessary because segment specific offers will perform far better than a "one size fits all" approach.
3. Research one in channel, buy in another
More frequently, shoppers research items online and then go to a store to make the actual purchase - i.e., webrooming. However, this behavior also works in the opposite direction where a shopper may touch, feel and try on a product in a store and then go home to shop online for the best deal - i.e., showrooming.
In the online to offline scenario, the merchant would ideally want to identify the customer as he or she walks into the store and greet the shopper with a message - e.g., "the product you've researched online is sold in aisle 10, here's 5% off coupon and you should consider purchasing this additional item with it".
To execute tactics like this, the merchant must possess exact knowledge and tracking of the customer across channels. The Loyalty ID of a merchant's loyalty program is the best way to enable this. Of course, the merchant must motivate the shopper through the loyalty program to "mark" themselves along his or her buying process. In addition, real time decision capabilities are necessary in order to know when a shopper is interacting with a channel and intelligently decide the optimal action to take based on prior interactions.
What do you think? Are there other customer buying behaviors omnichannel should solve?