An Introduction To Omnichannel Marketing

An Introduction To Omnichannel Marketing

I've spent this week in Winchester, Hampshire, for its ninth Fashion Week, an annual event coordinated by the BID (Winchester Business Improvement District). One of the reasons I was so keen to visit Winchester for Fashion Week 2019 was a talk on the future on the future of the high street by Dr Samantha Lynch titled How To Make An Omnichannel Marketing Strategy Work For Your Business.

By way of brief background, Dr Lynch is the Programme Leader for Fashion Marketing at the University of Winchester Business School, and her particular area of expertise is the consumer behaviour of young women. The focus of her talk was how to use an omnichannel strategy to make your marketing more effective and future proof your business.

FIRST OFF, WHAT IS OMNICHANNEL MARKETING?

Two marketing definitions that we’re hearing about more and more are multi-channel marketing and omnichannel marketing.

  1. Multi-channel marketing refers to the ability to interact with potential customers on a variety of different platforms. A printed advert, a retail location, an online store, Instagram, Pinterest, email marketing and so on. In multi-channel marketing, the aim is to get the word out about your products and services across a number of channels, with social media and email being the most popular.

  2. Omnichannel marketing is a multi-channel sales approach that provides the customer with an integrated and seamless shopping experience. The customer may be shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, via phone, or in a bricks-and-mortar store, and their experience will be seamless as they hop from one to another.

Omnichannel marketing is laser focused on the customer’s experience. Omnichannel businesses at the top of their game e.g. Disney, Sephora, Oasis and Timberland are diligent about ensuring their customers receive the same experience and messaging across every channel. A consistent brand image and marketing message is what deepens the customers' relationship with the brand, meaning they spend more and act as ambassadors.

The key words when it comes to omnichannel marketing are consistency, integrated and seamless.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF OMNICHANNEL MARKETING?

According to recent research by WorldPay, shoppers use around ten sources of information to help them to come to a buying decision. These range from looking up websites, watching TV adverts, reading reviews to asking family and friends for their opinion. Sales conversions go up by 133% when trusted people make recommendations.

When it comes to shopping channels, 63% of customers use multiple channels when looking to spend more than £100. This makes sense when we think about how we shop ourselves. Just yesterday for example, I was looking at cashmere scarves on the Lois Avery website, a brand that’s new to me. With a price point of £145, I want to be confident about the quality and longevity of their cashmere. Two of the factors I’m considering as I think about whether or not I will buy a Lois Avery scarf are customer reviews and testimonials from influencers whose brand recommendations I trust, particularly as there is no bricks-and-mortar store for me to see and touch the product for myself.

The reward for offering a seamless and consistent customer experience is very substantial: sales of between 50% and 300% more than single channel shoppers. This is the reason why the brands I mentioned earlier in this article are investing so heavily in their omnichannel marketing strategy.

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM DR LYNCH'S TALK

Dr Lynch’s key contention was that in order to survive and to thrive on the high street, small independent businesses must adapt an omnichannel approach. This is especially important for the independent retail sector because they make up 65% of all bricks-and-mortar stores.

She reminded us that when we think about the customer journey today, it's considerably more sophisticated than it was just a few years ago, before the recent technological revolution. Previously the customer journey followed five key steps:

1.    Identify a need for a product or service.

2.    Search for it, usually by visiting a selection of bricks-and-mortar stores.

3.    Evaluate the different options.

4.    Make the purchase.

5.    Decide whether you’re satisfied with your purchase or not.

However British high streets are going through a period of unprecedented change and shifts in shopping habits have made the customer journey far more complex. Gone are the days when we went into town on a Saturday to browse the shops and buy any products which caught our eye. Customers might spot an item they like in a magazine, on Instagram or blog, hop over to the website for further information, check out the online reviews and then place their order, with the expectation that delivery is speedy. Or they may save that item to a Pinterest board and search it out when they're next in town shopping. The point is that the customer journey is considerably more complicated today and customer expectations are higher than ever.

So what does this mean for the independent retailer operating in a competitive marketplace and a world of chronic overload?

It means:

  • We have to make the customer experience extraordinary.

  • Our business/ brand must be difficult to imitate.

  • And we must have a deep understanding of the customer journey as it applies to our particular business.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be looking at the customer journey of two of the businesses I work with in order to move them further towards an omnichannel marketing strategy and away from their current multichannel approach. I’m excited to see what insights this exercise reveals and what this means for their respective business strategies going forward.

Meanwhile you might like to check out this excellent report on what to do if you want to be a successful retailer in Winchester. The findings and recommendations of the report aren't confined solely to Winchester but are relevant to independent retailers on every British high street.

OVER TO YOU

Is an omnichannel marketing strategy something you’ve considered? I love reading your feedback so please do take a moment to share let me know in the comments box below.

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