Consumers are increasingly becoming more mobile and agnostic about channels. They move from one channel to another – from online to offline and vice versa – and expect a continuous and solid experience with no visible differences. However, these channels are not always organised in a way that allows for a smooth transition between them.
It is necessary that the way marketers approach sales channels adapts to this new reality.
In the digital age, the path that the consumer takes isn’t always direct, sometimes taking a spiral path with several points of contact until reaching purchase.
Marketers must accompany the consumer during their journey through the physical and online channels, as well as allow them to make purchases on any channels. This is called omnichannel marketing – the practice of integrating multiple channels to offer a continuous and consistent consumer experience.
An International Data Corporation survey found that omnichannel buyers typically have a 30% higher lifetime value than single channel buyers. This demonstrates that buyers are more committed when they have a choice and when they can buy a product at the exact moment they choose.
The trends show that omnichannel marketing is developing at an accelerated pace due to new technologies.
Trend 1: Mobile commerce in the “now” economy
Consumers choose brands that provide convenient access and transaction, offering instant solutions. Speed of delivery is now as important as products and services.
Mobile phones are responsible for changing behaviour, as they are the instruments that are closest to consumers, and are also the most personal and convenient channel.
Another instrument that can drive this trend is wearables, which are similar to mobile phones, are always connected to consumers and can also help marketers in the collection of data on consumer path patterns.
Trend 2: Take webrooming to offline channels
Sensor technologies, such as near field identification, and radio frequency identification provide solutions to take webrooming to physical stores.
The sensors can communicate with customers’ smartphones using Bluetooth technology, creating machine-to-machine connections when they are close. This allows retailers to know where customers are in the store, which sections are most visited and how much time they spend there.
This technology allows retailers to collect behavioural data from consumers, thus being able to personalize the offer and increase the likelihood of purchase.
The use of machine-to-machine connectivity brings the simplicity and imminence of the webrooming experience to the offline shopping experience. It allows offline channels to attract consumers with digital content of interest in order to facilitate purchase decisions, such as product details and reviews from other customers.
Trend 3: Bring showrooming to online channels
In the digital age, consumers can buy products and services immediately and effortlessly, as well as access a wide range of content to facilitate their decision.
However, online shopping does not allow the same relationship with the act of shopping offline. Offline shopping implies using the 5 senses to try products and services before the committing to purchase, as well as having human-to-human interactions that are only possible on offline channels.
Tesco in South Korea is a good example of this approach. The company creates virtual stores – in the background panels similar to supermarket shelves – in public places such as train stations. Consumers can make purchases on smartphones while waiting for the train, just by scanning the desired products. The products will then be sent by Tesco to consumers’ homes.
This showrooming approach allows consumers to buy products in physical spaces, explore their senses and establish human-to-human connections, bringing the best of offline experiences to online channels.
In recent applications, showrooming and webrooming depend on mobile devices, such as mobile phones and wearables, as the main interfaces for the consumer experience as these are the bridge between the online and offline world.
Therefore, it is important to understand that the trends in mobile commerce, webrooming and showrooming, make it possible to integrate the brands’ sales and communication channels to offer a holistic omnichannel experience.