To offer a truly streamlined customer experience, you need to be able easily to optimise assets for each channel, says Nate Holmes, Product Marketing Manager, Widen, an Acquia company…
There is no doubt that online retail is one of the industries that has suffered the least from the global pandemic. Unlike its physical counterpart, which saw months of enforced shutdown resulting in the closure of 17,500 chain stores in 2020 – equal to 48 every day – online retail has thrived. In a recent study, the UK’s top 100 retailers reported a 52 percent increase in online traffic over the course of the pandemic, with Ofcom finding that online retail spend soared by 48 percent to £113 billion last year. Reports estimate that mobile commerce, or simply m-commerce, is driving this digital trend, with predictions putting it at 73 percent of all e-commerce sales.
However, despite the clear opportunity that e-commerce provides, a shocking 89 percent of retailers believe that their digital capabilities haven’t been able to keep pace with the surge of online shopping. With m-commerce representing such a large piece of the pie, it seems obvious where retailers need to focus their investments. Most retailers with a presence on the high street also have an online offering and it’s crucial that they’re able to provide a seamless experience across all channels for the best chance of success.
Opting for omnichannel
The beauty of omnichannel retail is that it provides customers with additional ways of interacting with a brand, across whichever combination of channels they prefer to use. When done well, an effective omnichannel strategy provides a seamless experience for consumers, whether they are engaging with a retailer on the high street, its website, app, or even social media platforms.
The key to this is that consumers are able to move easily between channels in order to find the information they need to help them make a purchase decision, without encountering any friction or loss of brand identity. Purely operating over multiple channels isn’t enough to cultivate an omnichannel strategy – that’s simply multichannel. Investments need to be made to ensure the content and offerings across channels complement and build on one another. And it’s worth it: by engaging with customers in this way, brands are able to maximise loyalty and increase sales by providing a better and more engaging customer experience.
The magic of mobile
As part of an omnichannel strategy, mobile commerce can be a silver bullet for retailers, especially as younger generations – who are typically more comfortable using their smartphones than their older counterparts – begin to make up more of the consumer pool. Speed, ease and convenience of the shopping experience are all important factors that make m-commerce an attractive option for consumers. And its popularity will keep building momentum as mobile-centric capabilities, such as social commerce, augmented reality and one-touch payment solutions like Apple Pay and Google Pay, continue to grow. With predictions attributing US$3.5trillion to m-commerce this year, it’s an opportunity for growth that retailers simply can’t ignore: mobile must be prioritised as part of a wider omnichannel strategy.
The key to achieving a good mobile experience is ensuring the right technologies and tools are in place to successfully augment and optimise e-commerce content for mobile. When content – including digital assets such as images, videos, product information or even 360° spin photography – is optimised for each channel rather than just lifted from existing channels, engagement will increase as the shopping experience is streamlined. However, tailoring digital assets and expanding the amount of content marketers need to sift through can create challenges when it comes to version control and making sure appropriate, approved, and up-to-date assets are being used across every channel. This is why it is so crucial to invest in tools like digital asset management (DAM) and product information management (PIM) software to keep digital marketing content organised, accessible and shareable across teams and business units around the world.
Keeping it consistent
Implementing and integrating DAM and PIM tools can help ensure retail marketers are utilising correct and consistent assets and information about their products across each channel they are marketing it on – whether that’s a physical store, a mobile app or an e-commerce site. This is the cornerstone of a seamless omnichannel strategy as it clearly signals to consumers that they are interacting with the same brand by providing alignment and cohesion across each step of the purchase journey, even if they switch channels.
By adopting a clear omnichannel approach to marketing – that takes m-commerce into account as this channel continues to grow – retailers will be able to communicate a strong message and brand identity to consumers no matter how they choose to interact with the company. With multiple channels and countless assets and products to manage, investing in tools that make it easy for marketers to provide the correct content is the first step to achieving this. Only then will retailers be able to reap the full rewards of an omnichannel approach and begin to see its impact on the bottom line.