The future of multichannel is heavily influenced by two key factors:
These factors work together to form a virtuous cycle in which consumer expectations necessitate the development of new technology leading to even more evolved expectations … ad infinitum.
That cycle means change happens fast. And staying on top of the latest transforms is crucial to multichannel success.
The vast majority of consumers use more than one device along their path to purchase.
These stages include:
Not only are multi-device shoppers becoming more prevalent, they’re becoming more valuable, as well. Case in point, a report by Monetate found that — compared to single-device shoppers — multi-device consumers have a higher AOV, product view rate, and purchase rate.
It’s essential that you provide value at every stage of the buyer’s journey. And be sure your audience can derive this value regardless of the device they use.
Instead of creating separate campaigns for each marketing channel, forward-looking teams are now designing singular, overarching campaigns that span multiple channels.
For example, in aiming to generate new leads, a true multichannel campaign might create paid ads to be presented on Google, Facebook, and Instagram. Each ad—regardless of the platform it appears on—will direct the target audience to a single landing page, where they can then sign up for the company’s mailing list.
Visitors to that specific page would then be (1) retargeted with a “next stage” ad on those same platforms or (2) targeted via a custom email sequence.
Going even deeper into omnichannel operations, marketing campaigns are slowing beginning to span online-to-offline channels while creating a cohesive branded experience for the consumer.
Personalization no longer refers to strategies like providing product recommendations or triggered emails after a customer clicks on a certain link. While such tactics are still important, they’re par for the course by today’s standards.
The future of personalization is in providing value to a given customer based on their specific needs at that exact moment.
For example, an individual might visit your Instagram page in search of quick-hitting video content, but then navigate to your website to get further information about a specific product. Or, as mentioned above, they might want to engage with the same content on multiple platforms, depending on what’s convenient at the moment.
The modern consumer wants to feel like their current experiences with a brand were made just for them (even when they know it really isn’t).
Allowing them to pick up where they left off on multiple channels inherently adds a touch of personalization to every experience they have with your brand.
As the multi-device buyer’s journey becomes more common, consumers will continue to expect to be able to seamlessly place orders and make payments on any device they choose.
On the technical side, this means companies will need to ensure their transactional processes are user-friendly and glitch-free.
Data collected by Statista shows this also means ensuring your customers are privy to all relevant information and never have to enter their information more than once.
Internally, keep data centralized in order to avoid stockouts and ensure deliveries are fulfilled promptly. With orders coming in from multiple devices on multiple platforms, honing a single source of truth (SSoT) is non-negotiable.
Speaking of fulfillment, we’re also continuing to see organizations offer a variety of delivery options to customers. The modern consumer wants the companies they do business with to offer options such as:
The draw of eCommerce is no longer just about speed. While same-day shipping is becoming more common, it’s more about providing for the needs of the individual customer than getting an order out ASAP.
Your customer base is made up of a variety of people with a variety of needs. For some, it may be more convenient to pick up an order in-store; others might want it delivered to their doorstep. Some are happy waiting a week, while some want it that day.
Your job, in this regard, is to optimize your fulfillment processes to provide the options your customers want in order to further prove your dedication to their success.
There’s no denying that the traditional department store is well past its heyday.
While many former retail giants have completely turned away from brick-and-mortar stores in favor of an online approach, others have taken a more proactive route. That is, they’ve opted to evolve the concept of brick-and-mortar stores altogether.
Think about it like this: shoppers can make a purchase in a variety of ways; they don’t have to go to the store to do so.
Which is why we’re seeing an increase in brands’ use of pop-up events, augmented reality, showrooming, and integrated payment methods in brick-and-mortar locations.
It’s no longer enough to see your physical location as “a place to sell your products.” Moving forward, retail must be a physical representation of your overall branded experience.
The modern consumer has no time for redundant conversations with five different customer support representatives. And, by today’s standards, there’s no excuse for such redundant conversations to happen in the first place.
As more organizations adopt a multichannel (or omnichannel) approach, we’ll continue to see customer service efforts become more streamlined.
In some cases, automation and self-service will take the forefront. If a customer can find what they’re looking for by engaging with a brand’s chatbot, knowledge base, or other content, they won’t have to reach out to the support team in the first place.
This is another area in which focusing on the SSoT is essential: with all pertinent information being held in a centralized location, your support team will always have what they need to solve a customer’s issue.
As smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo and Google Assistant become more prevalent, so too, will instances of voice-powered search and purchasing.
According to data collected by Voicebot:
What’s more, the data shows that those belonging to the younger generation are much more likely to use smart speakers for consumer purposes.
As this trend continues, we’re bound to see more companies focus on voice search optimization and creating content specifically for smart speaker engagements.
The number of marketing and sales channels available is staggering. And they’re only getting more numerous.
Whether we’re talking marketplaces, social media, or old channels reborn — like television, radio, and mail-order catalogs — new platforms are popping into existence on a continual basis.
Not only that, but these platforms are continuing to evolve as time goes on, providing even more opportunities for brands to take advantage of.
On the reverse side, it’s essential that organization’s don’t brush aside platforms without giving them a second thought: what might seem superfluous today might be essential in the near future.
Naturally, experimentation needs to be controlled in order to be effective. This means assessing the value of a given channel through multichannel attribution, trying out its various use cases, and testing the returns — return on investment as well as return on ad spend — before diving in headfirst.
Simply put: the more open your team is to new marketing and sales channels, the more likely you’ll be to be among the first in your industry to strike gold.
The goal of developing a fully-functional omnichannel operation is to evolve your brand into more than just “a company that your customers do business with.”
One side of this involves integrating your brand into your customers’ lives in a variety of ways. Thinking of this from the customer’s perspective, it’s all about developing a relationship.
Perhaps the best way to think about where we’re headed in this regard is to look back to the way things were just a few decades earlier. The concept of customer relationship management as we know it has only existed since the 1980s; before then, building a relationship with the customer wasn’t seen as all that important.
By way of multichannel, think beyond “sales.” Expand your strategy to include showing up physically where your audience exists.
No doubt, keeping abreast of the trends is important. But, it’s even more so to operate with the knowledge that the “whole picture” is still developing — and that there will always be more to learn about how to provide for your customers.
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