As modern shoppers, we’re an extremely demanding bunch – we want more convenience and more choice, but we don’t want to pay any more for it. It’s tough to be a retailer when consumer expectations are higher than ever.

In a fast-changing spending environment, big brands spend up large to find ways to keep their customers coming back. They’re going beyond the model of store-plus-website. Instead, they’re using multichannel marketing, an approach that might incorporate instore, website, social media, apps, texts and mail-outs. By combining different channels for communication, customers can choose what suits them best.

This is becoming an essential strategy for reaching customers: you need to catch them where they are, which sometimes means on social media, on their phones, and instore all at the same time.  

But multichannel is various marketing channels being used in parallel. A great customer experience means those different channels needs to do more than coexist, they need to cooperate. You need to step up to omnichannel.

The next level: omnichannel

Omnichannel takes multichannel to the next level. It brings all those multiple channels together, allowing the brand to deliver a consistent customer experience. That means ensuring that what’s happening in your store is reflected on your app, your website and your social media. There should never be a customer standing at the counter with their phone in your hand telling you, ‘No, it says online it’s 20% off’.

Shoppers are now doing research and purchasing across several devices. They might start on their laptop, then go into a store, with their phone in hand to check out the competition as they shop.

How three major international brands are succeeding with omnichannel

  • Sephora began selling online in New Zealand back in 2016, before opening its first store here in 2019 – with 800 people queuing for hours to get in. Internationally, Sephora connects its customers online shopping with their instore experience, offering workshops and makeovers, as well as instore tablets so they can log onto their ‘beauty basket’.
  • Timberland footwear and apparel is a heritage brand that has been available here in New Zealand for decades, but that doesn’t mean they’re letting the grass grow under their feet. Utilising ‘near-field communication technology’ lets people in their flagship stores hold instore ipads up to products to get more information and deals. This means less waiting, which customers appreciate – and it frees up staff members.
  • Starbucks has been in New Zealand since the late 1990s, albeit with a relatively small presence. In the US, however, it’s a behemoth, and its rewards app has created obsessive loyalty among customers – it was the most-used payment app in the US in 2018 with over 23 million users, more than any of the big three payment apps.

For more examples of brilliant omnichannel strategies, click here.

Tips for a successful omnichannel strategy

How can a Kiwi business emulate a little bit of that success?

  1. Make sure your customer is getting a cohesive, continuous experience. A unified customer view tells buyers that your brand is reliable, consistent and seamless. As Ingenico puts it, “consumers have always wanted to buy everything, everywhere, in the easiest way.”
  2. Have a plan. As this article explains, ‘omnichannel doesn’t mean “All the channels, all the time”.’ You need to tailor your roadmap to speak to your customers in a meaningful way, keep them informed, and not bombard them with information. That will take some careful thought and constructive planning.
  3. Capture a 360-degree view of your customer. Every digital channel is generating data, so make sure you use it to learn more about your customers, what they want, where they prefer to interact with your brand and how they like to spend and shop.
  4. Test and tweak. The beauty of digital channels is that you can run two side-by-side campaigns and measure which ones work. Your end goal is a stronger brand and better profits, so jettison any marketing that’s not working to help you achieve it.
  5. Don’t ignore traditional offline media. For some brands, there’s still a great argument for posted catalogues, billboards, radio or TV advertising, or even coupons. As this article points out, ‘If billboards were dead, why would Apple use so many of them to advertise their new phones each year?’

Good luck with all your channels – and don’t forget that you can always talk to the team at Paymark about capturing more data and more ways to pay.