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Omni-Channel Shoppers: How Can Retailers Keep Up With Them?

Omni-channel shoppers present both an opportunity and challenge for businesses. The offline and online shopping experience both have to complement each other with the ultimate goal of driving sales from every channel.

Read more: Differences between Multi-channel and Omnichannel customer experience

A report by Google, Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands that explores the behaviour of digital shoppers in local stores, shows that consumers want customized experiences coupled with relevant information: 71% of in-store shoppers used their smartphones for online research before completing the purchase. Shoppers that didn’t get access to relevant information during their shopping experience usually left the stores frustrated.

Further, according to the Worldwide Retail 2015 Predictions study by IDC, shoppers who use multiple channels and touchpoints are “worth” 30% more than a regular shopper who utilizes only a single channel for their purchases.

While traditional marketing has been about dividing the marketing budget into different channels of distribution, now, it is about pursuing an integrated and holistic approach towards marketing to help marketers keep up with these shoppers.

Let’s explore how businesses can keep up with the demanding opportunities arising from the growth of omni-channel shoppers.


Unlock the Opportunity to Upsell through Guided Selling

Guided Selling provides an opportunity to personalize offers and upsell existing customers. Since these shoppers are already used to the channels and stores they frequently purchase from, they appreciate recommendations that fit their needs, based on previous purchases.

Beauty retailer Sephora, capitalizes on this strategy by collecting information from their customers and retargeting them during new product launches based on explicit interest and their purchase history.


Invest Back in the Business to Provide Better Experience

The quality of the shopping experience matters. Research shows that digital information affects 50% of store sales. Many sales are driven online because most consumers prefer to avoid long queues in stores, stock outages or worse: poor customer service associates who are not well versed in the products and services the store is offering.

This year, fashion retailer Nordstrom has upgraded its point-of-sales systems a well as their mobile site, and invested in improving its online checkout process to help them stay on top of changing customer behavior. Nordstom’s CFO, Mike Koppel, told Wall Street analysts that such investments are necessary, as reinvesting back to the business and provides them with the highest returns.

Apple used to have independent departments for their retail and the online store. However, to be able provide seamless shopping experience and consistent messaging for its omni-channel shoppers, the two independent departments were synced to avoid confusion between two different channels.

Retailers are best advised to invest in software technology that lets them to have a holistic understanding of their customers. It allows them to design much more tailored shopping experiences and increase their average sales per customer.

Clothing retailer The Gap, has made significant progress on its omni-channel operations by bringing together the traditional marketing and digital business activities.

Gap’s CEO, Art Peck, believes that such shift in strategy opens up a number of things for them such as different ways of engaging and interacting with customers and giving the sales associates the right tool to support shoppers.

Right now, Gap is experimenting on a cloud-based point of sales software that will be placed on small devices in their stores to help facilitate Guided selling, increase customer engagement during their in-store visits and use the data gathered for future online shopping.

So, reserve in store, shipping from store, finding store, and now we are testing mobile POS. Knowing now how the customer is reacting to those, having learned a lot about how it comes together to form a customer value proposition and now starting to integrate them into a more holistic offer, that’s really the focus and it’s going to be the focus over 2015. – Art Peck, CEO, The Gap


Boost Sales Through Localized Content and Promotions

Local information would also be a great opportunity for retailers to win the omni-channel shoppers. If the promotional and discount ads are localized and the search results are customized to the country the customer lives in, there are higher chances of increasing in-store visits.

Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores is an example of a retail brand that uses local inventory ads. In fact, such strategy has boosted visits to their stores by more than a 100%!


All of these strategies involve investment in technology as well as training of employees. However, the rewards outweigh the costs as the future of shopping involves customizing and strategically targeting omni-channel shoppers. Retailers have to adjust to them or competition will eventually eliminate them.

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Jonha Richman invests through her private investment fund, JJ Richman. The firm's latest investments have been focused on real estate, equities, bonds, commodities, emerging technologies (such as AI, big data) and various other globally diversified assets.