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The internet in the consumer’s pocket : What retailers can do about Smartphones, Tablets and becoming Omnichannel

Consumers are swimming in more channels than ever when taking the purchase journey. Businesses have accepted they need to consider more than ever just how connected to the world of pricing and product information their customers are. With 31% of consumers visiting in-store before buying online and  34% doing research online then coming in-store, there is a worry retail outlets could be on their way to just being Amazon’s showroom (The Omnichannel Opportunity, Deloitte/ebay, 2014).

The answer, it is implied, is Omnichannel. Consumer expectations are sky-high and so a need for a seamless system has arisen, where the brand connects its bricks and mortar to ecommerce, mobile apps and social media seamlessly.

And so the focus of this blog materialises, when mobile devices now mean consumers can be connected to the web and wandering through your store at the same time, what should you do about it?


Internet-in-their-pocket shoppers and Google

The first worry with Android shoppers is their ability to quickly Google your product straight from the barcode. Why is this a worry? Well first of all you’re not price-competitive, second of all you’re not on the first page of search results and finally you haven’t given any reason for brand loyalty.

Luckily that wasn’t actually your scenario and we can think on this first. The first and biggest concern posed by the internet is the threat of substitute. Are you selling someone else’s product or brand that is subject to price wars, or is your product fairly generic and alternatives can be easily found? If yes and yes it is time to deliver a compelling argument to your customer. A great brand is a reassurance and great service a way to be distinctive, but the modern millennial is a thriftier adversary than ever before.

One solution is for the retailer to develop their own range and brand so they can dictate how much their product is worth through marketing and customer experience, rather than eBay’s average auction price. That level of brand control is what you see all across the high street, but what about using a bit of the consumer’s tech against them. Could it be possible to use consumer’s searching devices to even the playing field?


Wi-fi-ght at all

Some retailers have started offering wi-fi in-store and it isn’t just for bored husbands at the changing rooms. Sure it may trap people in Debenhams a while longer, and offer a way to collect some extra people for the mailing list; but what happens if the consumer jumps from product reviews to competitor checkout? (Want to make use of your competitor’s wi-fi? Keystone Data offer a fully-unified NetSuite ecommerce solution and responsive website development that will look and function beautifully on the shopper’s mobile)

This is where the omnichannel approach starts to take shape. If the customer has the opportunity to go online, give them a reason to stay loyal to you on the web. Invest in the SEO for your likely product searches to reassure the customer of your brand’s legitimacy, offer incentive codes at point-of-sale in-store to force them through the checkout online or give cues in-store to further rich content available online or on your Social Media (video tutorials for example).


Connecting your customer service

Anything your customers can do, your staff might just be able to do better. The advancements in tablets and unified cloud solutions, like NetSuite, means retail staff can now be given the whole supply chain at their fingertips. Having the opportunity to give Mr & Mrs Smith a live, accurate and instant promise when it comes to stock, is a reassurance that will remind them of the usability they enjoy from Amazon. Being able to transition this quote into an order in no time, even better. Being able to set them up with an account for your web-store at the same time and you’re ready to enjoy omnichannelling.

Once Mr & Mrs Smith have their access online it is easy for retailers to forget that they were happy to come in-store once upon a time. Click and Collect is often seen as the reserve for larger companies, but it’s often just a case of being the person willing to stay in all day for the delivery. If your opening hours are more likely to be accessible to the young professional than Royal Mail’s vague midday drop-off, that could be a unique selling point that makes you money in your area. Offer out a discount for Click & Collect through your mailing list and social media, and then you could be punching above your weight in the omnichannel arena.