Customers' buying journeys have changed from the linear ones of the past. Instead, many customers are hopping from on channel to another while considering a purchase.
In fact, it has become very common for a customer to start the buying journey online, researching a product or service and making a shortlist of companies he is interested in doing business with. Unless it's an impulse buy, it's very rare for customers to walk into a retail store before having done their research online.
According to Rick Chavie, vice president of OmniCommerce at hybris, the omnichannel experience is increasing, driven by the penetration of mobile. Because of the prevalence of smartphones, it has become even more common for customers to research a retailer before setting foot into their brick-and-mortar store. "Mobile connectivity has changed the shopping experience," Chavie stresses.
With customers' shopping journey transcending a single channel, they have come to expect an experience that is seamless between the different touchpoints that they use. Customers don't think in terms of channels. Whether they're using a mobile app, looking at a company's Website on their laptop, or walking into a store, they expect a seamless experience. "Customers are driving retailers into delivering one experience across different channels," Chavie notes.
Therefore, organizations need to leverage data from different touchpoints to provide this personalized experience that's made up of relevant interactions. For example, if an associate has access to a customer's online browsing history when she's helping him in a store, the associate will be better able to provide the shopper with information he needs. If the client has been looking at different flat screen televisions, his browsing history could give the associate important clues as to what the customer is looking for, for example the size and price point.
However, successfully implementing such a concept requires a robust data strategy which brings together customer information from different channels to create a single customer profile. This way, an frontline employee will be able to deliver a more relevant experience to that client by better understanding his multichannel history. "This personalized experience is differentiating the best retailers from the rest," Chavie says.