As technology advances and customers favor digital channels, AI will dominate omnichannel retail strategy
Omnichannel retailing describes multiple channels transactions, which may include marketplaces, social channels, brick-and-mortar stores and more.
Omnichannel has become a popular buzzword, but it’s not just another way of saying that you sell on multiple channels. A true omnichannel approach must deliver a consistent brand experience everywhere you sell to meet your customers where they are and build relationships that transcend channels. It should also emphasize optimizing your business through channel diversification and comprehensive integration of data and systems.
COVID has forced companies to reach a much higher level of digital maturity and define a unified channel strategy from a digital and physical perspective. An omnichannel retail strategy enables providing a consistent experience across all platforms and most importantly empowers retailers to respond to their customers’ needs with a common, central database of products and offers under the same cohesive brand identity.
Now that restrictions are being lifted, shoppers are returning to physical stores but still expect innovative digital experiences to accompany them along the path to purchase. Even for digital first brands, where the store is considered an extension of the main supply chain, customer research and familiarity with a brand should be enabled and unified through all communication channels. The physical store can become digital’s best ally when it comes to creating consumer excellence.
Businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to businesses that don’t, according to a research conducted by NielsenIQ, and have a 30% higher lifetime value than those with single channel retail.
Prioritize and Optimize
Companies need to understand that it is impossible to be all things for all customers, so a well planned omnichannel experience will only serve a large majority of customers, by focusing on the two or three cross-channel journeys that are most meaningful to customers and impactful for the company.
A successful omnichannel strategy is based on 3 pillars:
- Commerce – analyzing cross channel inventory visibility, distribution channels and delivery while optimizing costs and supporting advanced and accessible user interfaces.
- Customer centricity – dynamically personalize offerings, content, and products in a seamless inspiring manner.
- Industry – striving to improve and exceed ecosystem best practices while leveraging advanced technology. Establishing an innovative brand identity both internally and as perceived by current and future prospects.
Companies need to analyze existing resources, market position, customer acquisition and retention and define a strategy that is both ambitions and realistic. This will ensure establishing an innovative brand identity both internally and as perceived by current and future prospects.
AI is revolutionizing omnichannel personalization
A business becoming visible across multiple channels results in a personalized experience.
McKinsey states that e-commerce brands can achieve a 10% to 20% revenue increase with omnichannel personalization at scale. This is not just true for their customers’ online journeys, but also for store walk-ins. When a company tracks multiple channels behavior it will provide better service, both online and in-store, encouraging engagement and increasing impulsive purchasing.
The need to scale a variety of customer journeys in real-time as customers are also changing is what makes omnichannel so challenging to excel. AI tools are being used to close these gaps with greater intelligence and knowledge, creating a strategy that’s flexible to meet the customer’s buying journey while still delivering consistent experiences.
Modernize experiences and greater efficiency
Omni-channel retailing operates through multiple channels to fulfil the customers’ needs and delight them. Customers can research online and then quickly make their purchase activity from the store they prefer or any channel. This increases the productivity of the retail system and improves retention.
The quickest way to achieve in-store personalization is introducing kiosks and digital displays and arming your sales personnel with mobile devices such as tablets while using the same customer identifiers. Embedding AI powered solution in kiosks, touchscreens or sales reps’ devices can allow businesses to make sense of the data in real-time, gain a deeper understanding of their audience, and then take actions accordingly.
In-store digitization can be incorporated into virtual catalogues or showrooms for example, saving display room and costs and creating a faster, seamless shopping process.
Innovative retailers are combining brand, event and product preferences, location data, content viewed, transaction histories and most of all, channel, and communication preferences to create a precise advanced service based on their key customer segments.
AI is well-suited for creating recommendation engines, which are leading to a new generation of shopping platforms and apps where customers can virtually try on any dress or visualize a sofa in a complete room setting. These solutions study preferences, create real-time perfected personalized displays, and then recommend either purchase online or in a store.
Omnichannel incorporates predictive and dynamic retail
For retailers to stay ahead of the curve, the ability to access real-time data and make dynamic decisions without the hassle of handling cross-platform communications is crucial. Using real-time insights, retail managers can access up to the minute trends and demand to make actions and profits whether with in-store digital promotions or personalized campaigns.
AI is improving marketing and selling effectiveness by being able to track purchase decisions back to campaigns by channel and understand why specific personas purchased while others didn’t, providing the insights into why and where omnichannel strategies are succeeding or failing, planning ahead, helping sales prioritize time, sales efforts and selling strategies.
Artificial intelligence is here to power the omnichannel revolution, providing all around better effortless, consistent, and contextual experiences and it becomes even more powerful when combined across all channels. A winning omnichannel AI powered strategy does more than just position products across channels, it positions brands in ways that nurture existing relationships and create new ones.
As a business, you should begin catering to new demands and expectations by understanding the channels most favored by your clients, then commencing a phased approach to achieving AI based omnichannel personalization.