There’s a small monkey on a swing that sits on my window sill. It makes me sad when I get up in the mornings and he’s not swinging because it means the sun isn’t shining. The little monkey (call him Dave), is solar-powered.
Throughout Christmas 2013 and into January, bad weather blighted high street retail profits and predictions for the economy were still gloomy – empty retail units reached a record high last year but there’s now a definite feeling things are on the up. Despite all the economic doom and gloom over the last few years (hopefully now at an end) there was always one ‘but’. Online prevailed – this, is great news for adaptive/agile brands.
High street shoppers act like Dave: solar powered. A fully integrated retail estate is the only way to keep swinging when the weather’s bad. (at Christmas and into the sales season it doubtless will be). ‘Fully integrated’ means a grown-up and strategic approach to omnichannel.
Some retailers will answer that they are getting there but the landscape is changing so much and so quickly, just having the basics covered won’t cut it. There’s a lot to think about: it’s not just about a joined-up approach to inventory, it’s integration of the whole brand experience on and offline: in-store customer service, wishlisting, loyalty schemes, personalisation, rich product discovery, customisable delivery options and aftercare. Let’s again look at one of the most crucial dates in a retailer’s year – Christmas.
Omnichannel Dave decides to head to Westfield, because he’s buggered if he’s going down the highstreet – it’s cold and slushy out there. Along with the swathes of other Christmas shoppers, Omnichannel Dave can quickly tire of the retail experience – it’s a crush to get as much as you can in the short space of time Dave’s allowed himself to do it. In fact as soon as Dave arrives, window shopping is about as much as he can cope with. The idea of fighting to the front to get a feel for the goods he’s thinking of purchasing- then queuing to pay is simply not what he wants right now.
Taking a break for lunch, Dave swings by Jamie’s. Dave already used the mobile site to book and although a third party integration with bookatable completed the transaction, it was swift – seamless
Ensure if you integrate with third parties that their online experience matches the one you’ve carefully crafted yourself!
Lucky he did it at home, the signal in Westfield’s not so good (mall owners – please please provide easily accessible wifi that doesn’t stop at a retailers door – broker these deals with the brands for the benefit of the consumer!).
Casually waiting for his food Dave mulls over the things he’s seen but couldn’t hang around/queue long enough to buy and does a bit of mobile browsing for a shiny new tablet. It is Christmas after all and he should treat himself. He comes across the TechRadar rundown ‘Best Tablets of 2014’ and peruses the options. Dave notices the TechRadar guys went for an m.site – interesting choice when so many are building responsive, but this works much better for Dave’s data plan on his iPhone though – responsive sites can be slow to load delivering such large volumes of content.
Now neatly diverted from his original purpose, Dave swings by some electrical retailers so he can actually feel the goods. The guys in the Apple store were particularly well informed but the Microsoft Surface is perhaps better for the office. (Omnichannel is just that – all channels, your staff are crucial to the brand experience, make them knowledgeable about the product, give them the tools to talk eloquently about your offering. Provide instore tablet’s, kiosks and develop apps to showcase stock options that might be unavailable in-store. Take a que from B&Q, Argos and the like).
Something blocks Dave’s view on his iPhone….Dave’s not usually keen on interruptive ads but- because he’s fairly open with his data, this one’s targeted/personalised and Dave follows a banner ad to XElectrical’s eCommerce site where there’s another great write-up of the Surface and look – they’re doing a deal!
Use your customer data and media spend wisely, it only takes one bad interaction or badly targeted communication to turn a possible brand advocate into a lost sale.
Unfortunately, when he visits the store the sales guy just couldn’t explain why he should pay so much for the Microsoft option and he doesn’t know about the deal on the website. Dave’s not giving up – he wants that tablet. In frustration, Dave tries to buy the Surface on his phone but the mobile version of XElectricals.com is just too difficult to use. Pinch and zoom? Seriously?
If anyone isn’t aware that mobile’s critical – well, you probably shouldn’t be reading this, you’re in the wrong industry.
Dave plumps for the iPad – at least the guys in the shop know what they’re talking about. But he still hasn’t bought those presents…Already now weary of his doomed trip, cowed by the crush and the drop in service levels, Dave’s conscious he doesn’t want to get caught out by the icing of the roads as it gets dark. Having seen that he can get everything cheaper online and the delivery options are flexible – he’ll swing by home to drop off his few paltry purchases before he heads out for the works’ Christmas do.
Showrooming doesn’t have to be a bad thing – if you’re providing the best service across all channels, there’s no reason you’ll lose a sale.
Dave can always do more in the week, use click & collect and pick up in town during his lunch break – bound to be less manic during the day. Click & collect is now basic hygiene in the retail world, implement the functionality and then optimise the customer journey and checkout flow – a huge area of competition over the peak trade period will be fought and won by those with optimised and flexible delivery & return options.
Sitting at home with a cup of tea and a biscuit Dave sees that Ebay and Amazon, ooo and Nixon too – maybe a new watch…Look pretty great on the iPad (cover all your bases – prioritise the operating systems your core customer base use sure, but don’t ignore the others – and research who your customer base are!). Why didn’t he do this before? Well, he’ll order some standard kit for the distant relatives but needs something a bit more bling for his better half, Davina. Davina has strategically left a catalogue from the jewellers on the kitchen table. Dave flips through the catalogue but reckons that what will really win the day is something from Tiffany. Something from them popped up in his Facebook feed the other day and he knows Davina’s partial to the brand.
Park that for a bit though – Dave’s gonna get ready and swing by the Christmas do. While out and about Dave canvasses the opinion of a few female friends on what to buy Davina and shows them some pictures on his phone. Hmm, this would be easier if he could share direct from the site and get her bessie mates’ opinion? “Oh you can?” – Dave didn’t know. Social sites aren’t his forte (social is not social anymore, it’s just part and parcel of digital – make sure you use it wisely for customer service, content strategy and commerce where relevant).
Don’t just do what others do – research where your customers are and which social channels work for you and why.
Home again now and a bit worse for wear, Dave sits in his Lazyboy at his MacBook, because although they have a mobile site – squinting at Tiffany’s on his iphone with a hangover is not an option. He orders the bracelet he’s fairly certain is right. Dave loves how happy she is when she gets to open that box (channels are no longer siloed and exclusive from one another – the brand experience from discovery right through to product delivery and presentation are all vital).
Dave can’t be controlled. Dave is his own retail god. Dave defines his retail experience, it’s up to you to cover all the bases and execute immaculately so he doesn’t wander off in some other direction…
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