First 5 Steps — learning how to walk omnichannel

March 2, 2018
Anna Lokki

Attempt 1 — fall. Get up. Try again. Attempt 2 — probably fall again. Sound familiar? Like a child learning to walk, so are majority established retailers feeling when faced with blurry view into the future of omnichannel retail.

But not to worry — even thought the train has left the station, with a fresh viewpoint and a focused strategy there’s still plenty of opportunities to catch this high speed train.

Today’s retail requires a) the right mindset open for change and b) the ability to recheck if the direction you’re going is still the right one. Tune your attitude and start your journey with our first 5 steps towards omnichannel. Let’s go!

No 1. Mindset

An agile mindset for constant improvement and change is the magic behind most of today’s successful businesses. Retail nowadays isn’t the way it used to be for so many decades and what worked yesterday, most likely won’t work today.

Constant AB-testing, failing and learning will become your new best friends.

It’s time to leave behind the days of solely focusing on the physical store environments and concentrate on delivering your customers a truly holistic omnichannel experience. Physical stores and online stores are not separate players anymore. Research shows that even the older consumer groups are getting on board of the omnichannel-train, so why not you?  This does require a huge amount of courage (& the ability to get back on track after falling doesn’t hurt either). It’s a constant rollercoaster. This being said, tune yourself and your team into the right mindset and enjoy the ride!

No 2. Experience

Do you sell yeses and noes or possibilities and options? Are you offering your customers a service experience that works seamlessly through all channels?

If your staff still answers: “No, unfortunately we don’t have what you want in stock” change it to an immediate: “Unfortunately we don’t have it available here in store, but let me order it for you and have it delivered to your house.” The simple change of bringing the online inventory part of you offline channels and enforcing the visibility of your physical store network in your online channels is one of the most important steps in unifying these two channels.

Draw a map of your consumers service path in-store and make sure the sales staff engages actively towards to online channels and that the consumer is able to do this proactively. By making this process a stable part of the customer experience, the online and offline stop competing with each other — and complement each others.

No 3. Data

After getting your team onboard the new way of working, it’s time to really start using omnichannel to your benefit. One of the best and biggest prices will be data and how you can use the customer insights to optimize sales in both channels!

Which data can you gather about your customers and their movements and interests online and offline? Perhaps you use your data only to optimize your online sales? What about applying that data also in-store? Use all the data you get from your customers and use it to develop your product offering and visual merchandising more towards what your customers truly want and are interested in. Which products attract people most online in the geographical area where your physical shops are located? Can you track what people buy in-store and what online? What could you do if you harness this data with your loyalty programmes and CRM? Miracles, we would say!

No 4. Digital retail

As said, lesson nro 1: your online and offline channels shouldn’t compete with each other. There’s no such customer segments as brick and mortar or online customers. So let’s forget about that right here and develop an omnichannel that works like a well oiled machine. Bring your online to offline and vice versa. Sounds too tech or complicated?

Not to worry, omnichannel retailing doesn’t mean overwhelming tech wonderland with megascreens flashing blue lights from floor to ceiling. Rather consider the following: do you have any digital touchpoints that allow your customers access to your online store? Is your staff able to show the online options for customers when needed (and NO we don’t mean your customer taking an awkward peek at your cashdesk screen)? A well-working omnichannel increases the options consumers have, it isn’t meant to be synonym for digital retail. If you have more colors, models or sizes online — let them know it.

no 5: Attitude

Finally, what is your attitude towards changing the way you and your retail team operates, really? Is online taking away from your opportunities and sales as physical retailer or giving you more options to promote and boost your sales?

Don’t point fingers, up your game and become the Master of Omnichannel. There’s always enough purchasing power out there, you just need to find a way to catch it!

Hesitant in making your own business a crash test dummie for omnichannel? Sometimes, or rather most of the times, the most original and clever concepts require some serious pivoting. There’s unfortunately, yet luckily, no one way to become a mastermind in omnichannel strategy. What works for others retailers, may not work for you. The balance and weight put into online and offline differs with each retail concept. What you need to do is to find — Your Magic Sauce. If it would be simple, everyone could do it.

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