The good old days when retailers controlled customer experience and customer feedback through one single medium is long gone. The purchase journey and interaction now lie in the hands of customers. With the world evolving into a multi-channel, dynamic market, customers want to have a flawless buying experience every time they interact with a brand, no matter what or where the touch point is.
Omni-channel customer experience is the key
Customers demand seamless experience across all touch points, devices and channels
With the emergence of a digitized and a more mobile ecosystem, it becomes imperative for brands to focus on ensuring customer delight across every channel be it online or offline. If a business is still relying on disconnected and disparate supply chain system and is not paying attention to Omni-channel integration, it could spell danger for them.
Today’s customers are an unforgiving lot. They want a quick shopping experience, consistently, every time they come across a brand. One wrong move and the customers have all the power to vent out their dissatisfaction through the variety of social media channels at their disposal. Thus, tough industry competition and customer power are two elements that brands need to keep in mind and work towards ensuring a seamless Omni-channel customer experience.
Well-connected, robust supply chain
Effortless interaction is the primary challenge for brands
So what does ‘seamless’ Omni-channel experience mean? In simple terms, a seamless experience is one where the customer comes across consistent and satisfactory brand experience, every time he or she interacts with a brand. It means that whenever the customer makes a purchase through any channel that the brand deals in, he or she should be able to experience a connected experience.
Switching between touch points, devices or for that matter any medium should feel same, unique and integrated. Effortless interaction is the primary challenge that brands face in today’s age of multiple purchasing channels. This can happen only if the brand maintains a superior, well-connected and robust supply chain network with speed, quality and customers at the forefront.
Build cross-channel capabilities
Rely on data to understand consumer behavior
So the big question is how can you modernize an obsolete and disparate supply chain, and build a new connected system that meets the demands of the modern customers and provides a seamless Omni-channel experience every single time?
It all starts with understanding your customers. Customers don’t behave the same way in every single purchasing channel. They behave differently in different channels.
Brands need to understand every aspect of consumer behavior across the multitude of channels. They need to understand, which are the channels that customers use and in what way. For example, customers may extensively use the ecommerce site to browse products but may make a final purchase in brick and mortar store.
They may also switch from smartphones to laptops during the same purchase journey. So the company needs to heavily deal with humongous data to understand consumer behavior across the same channel as well as the varied ones. Thus, the first step towards building an Omni-channel customer experience is to create cross-channel capabilities.
Data silos can be detrimental
Integrated data and intelligent analytics can help create actionable Omni-channel strategy
Companies have a lot of data available, thanks to customer feedback, customer purchases and other loyalty data. But that’s not enough. You need to make use of this data by leveraging your analytical capabilities to understand customer behavior. Equally important is integrating the data from various channels.
Data in silos is not helpful. You need to ensure all data from the varied channels is integrated to give you a clear picture of the business, and help you develop actionable plan for building a successful Omni-channel strategy.
Challenging, yet rewarding task
Omni-channel strategy is much more than just being present on all channels
Some businesses may think that building an Omni-channel strategy is equivalent to building up each area independently, say for example creating a mobile app or a website. But Omni-channel experience incorporates much more than that. When you create an app, you need to ensure that the products that you offer are stocked at your distribution centre, and are available at the right price, promotion, and that the customer is able to make safe and secure payment. This sequence of events should be flawless, quick, secure and integrated to ensure customer delight during order fulfilment. Thus, business needs availability and visibility of inventory and an integrated payment system. Only then can a company claim to be truly Omni-channel.
Though a challenging task, building a successful Omni-channel strategy, leading to seamless customer experience can be achieved through exceptional leadership, focus on integrated supply chain management solutions and metrics.