4 Reasons Consumers Expect OmniChannel and Don’t Even Know What It Is
In order to grow businesses must design for customer expectations. Let’s say it a slightly different way. Omnichannel and growth are tied together. The fact is, businesses that employ omni-channel grow faster than businesses that stay with one way of selling, such as the old-fashioned traditional way of waiting for customers to simply walk in your business; and this applies to both retail and food services.
Omni-channel is simply the process of offering your products and services with the same experience, but through multiple-channels.
In other words, with today’s digital economy, you can continue to do business in-person, but you also can now do business with your customers over the Internet too. Omni-channel has something to do with the way customers buy. Today’s digital economy provides new ways in which you can offer your products to give your customers multiple ways to buy. This includes e-Commerce as well as mobile commerce, plus a variety of use cases around these technologies that simply make your products or services easier, quicker, and better to access.
There are 4 reasons that consumers expect omni-commerce in today’s digital age that you should think about:
Consumers today expect to buy where they want. Okay, so your first thought may have been that you need a bunch of franchises in order make your business available almost anywhere, but let’s think digitally for a minute. Where can be cyber; that is, on the Internet. This means a website that works both on a personal computer and tablet, but also on mobile devices. For example, a consumer may have realized that they’re hungry, and they think of your restaurant. So, they book a table, or even perhaps they order food paid with a credit card on the spot, where later they can pick up their food at your physical location.
Reasons #2 and #3
The second and third consumer reasons are when and what they want to buy. Of course you cannot keep your store-front or restaurant open all the time, but you can sell your products online. Again, offering an eCommerce site makes it possible for your customer to buy from anywhere over their mobile devices. And with this digital approach you can also make available much more of what they want. Digitally, there is no limit to the number of products you can offer; far more than what you could possibly carry in your store. So now you can expand your product offerings and carry much, much more online.
Lastly, you can offer many more (and new) ways for your customers to pay for their products. In others words the reason for omni-channel has to do with how they pay for your products or services. Payment services offer many new ways to pay, and not just through credit and debit cards. For example, consider gift cards that are reloadable. Many processors offer reloadable gift with the ability to offer cash back. These capabilities incent your customer to more likely buy from you in order to get the reward benefit. There are many new ways to also pay through mobile devices making the check-out experience easier and faster, providing a better consumer experience, especially for millennials.
When you think about it, omnichannel is not just about one or two ways for consumers to buy your products or services; it dozens of ways! The digital age now offers many options to reach your customers. Other than e-Commerce and mobile access to your website selling products, you can also reach your customer through social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram. The combination of in-store, e-Commerce, mobile, and social channels, you can now touch your customers where, when, what and how they want to buy.
Consider the options
But you may be thinking that the investment required to get all this working is too high in order to see higher revenue growth. Or, perhaps you are thinking that this sounds all too technical for you and do not have line-of-sight on how to implement omni-channel for your business. Well, this is an issue, but you really only have a few options. The first option is to do nothing and continue to run your business just the way you currently are running. Of course you will not experience the business of omni-channel, and you could very well find yourself losing business as some analysts are predicting.
The second option is to build out an omni-channel solution for your business. The downside here is cost and getting the right use cases that work well for your business. If you have no idea how to do this, then get help. The use cases to think about are what you can already see that other businesses are doing.
Great case examples of omni:
Chick-fil-a is a business that started with counter service quick serve. Though they have focused on trying to offer high-quality food through a fast counter-service, they have also taken this principle to a new level. Consumers can now order their meal on the Chick-fil-a website indicating their location (with the help of GPS integration in their mobile app) with a time to pick up their food. It’s ordered, and it’s paid for. All they have to do is walk into the phone order counter, grab and go.
Another example is Jimmy Johns. They have taken mobile orders to yet another level. It starts the same way as the previous example, except they are able to deliver your food to you rather than you having to do to their store to pick it up.
For a little more sophistication, you can build an app for your business that runs on mobile devices. The app can keep a history of all your purchases, and then offer to you the convenience of buying the same or similar order again, but with the option of delivery. A smart app can make buying so simple that you don’t even have to shop; not to mention dealing with the process of paying. Examples of this type of omni-channel solution are Walgreens and CVS apps.
The last example involves inventory management where consumers can buy online and pick up at the nearest store location. This means that the website and/or the app must have access to the business inventory system to make sure the product is available at the desired location. The point is, if you can implement this type of business technology, you just made new sales, because the consumer loves to know that they can have the product in their hands as soon as possible.
With all these omni-channel ideas the best approach is simply to take one step at a time with omni-channel. Try to add one new way to give your consumers an alternative way to buy from you. Then, build on that. Keep it simple, manage your costs, and go get that business growth!