Today’s marketplace is more connected than ever. The impact of the pandemic brought a dramatic shift in the way consumers shop and pay—and ease and convenience have become top expectations. From mobile apps that allow shoppers to transact anywhere and anytime to new delivery and pickup options, consumers are seeking a more seamless experience.
Given the restrictions brought by COVID-19, e-commerce is booming. Yet consumers are eager to return to shopping in person. As such, it’s vital that businesses have a deliberate omnichannel strategy as lockdowns ease and consumers return to in-store browsing. Reaching customers at every possible touchpoint and delivering payment choices that are simple and convenient should be the goal of merchants in this new environment.
But building this kind of comprehensive experience requires thinking differently than even just a few years ago.
Today, businesses should consider the entire customer journey, including how customers interact with the brand online, on mobile and eventually back in brick-and-mortar stores—alongside technologies that are reshaping the shopping experience as we know it. The journey matters as 88 percent of consumers said that a negative experience either online or in-store makes them less likely to shop with that brand or retailer again, according to a recent study titled “The return to store in a digital-first, post-pandemic world.”1
Below are some tips that can help merchants build a more integrated omnichannel strategy to grow their business now and in the future.
Omnichannel Starts Online
One of the first steps to develop a comprehensive omnichannel strategy is to conduct an audit of existing channels. And there’s no better place to start than with the website.
While consumers are shifting from browsing the web to checking their mobile device for news and updates, a website audit remains foundational to understand how consumers experience the brand. After all, the website—whether on desktop or mobile—is the online equivalent of a storefront. It’s the first thing customers see to help them determine if they want to come in and shop, and several key elements will help it succeed.
Some important things to consider when evaluating the quality of a website include site speed and design, whether content is optimized and engaging, and the level of user-friendliness when it comes to payments.
If the site doesn’t load quickly, is difficult to navigate, doesn’t include the information that customers need, or has a confusing e-commerce experience, visits are less likely to turn into conversions.
It’s No Mystery: Mobile Matters
While a merchant’s website is important, mobile optimization is important to a healthy omnichannel strategy.
When mobile strategy is considered, two approaches should be kept in mind. The first is to focus on a mobile-optimized website using mobile-responsive design. With a responsive design strategy, websites can automatically resize to fit the device it’s being viewed on.
The second approach is to build a mobile app. In many cases, brands have both mobile-optimized websites and mobile apps. The key is to understand the audience and how each tool meets a particular need so that they complement each other rather than compete.
According to a report from Adyen payments platform, in-store shoppers spent 40 percent more when they moved online during the pandemic.2 This makes delivering a great mobile experience more important now to achieving cross-channel success.
The Evolution of Brick-and-Mortar
While online and mobile shopping are becoming increasingly popular, many consumers still like to make their purchases in the traditional brick-and-mortar retail store. In fact, in 10 out of 11 countries surveyed by 451 Research, in-store shopping was cited by half or more consumer respondents as their preferred shopping channel.3
Why do some shoppers avoid shopping online and head into the store? The same study from 451 Research found that 69 percent of shoppers surveyed said they needed to physically feel and try the product to ensure it was right.3 Another 59 percent said they prefer walking away with the product in hand.3
That means the same thought and attention that goes into building the online experience should be reflected in-store. Maintaining an appealing and consistent design aesthetic throughout the store, inclusive of color, signage and other physical properties, will help create a more seamless experience for the shopper.
It is also important to audit the typical shopper’s journey to see where there may be issues in the store layout. Is there anywhere that people get hung up that highlights how their experience might be improved?
One answer could be to incorporate emerging Internet of Things (IoT) technology into the retail store. For example, 69 percent of shoppers said that store associates with mobile devices enabling payment acceptance around the store would improve their visit to a merchant.3
Integrating Online and In-Store Technology
One reason an omnichannel strategy is important is that consumers don’t just shop one way. For example, a shopper might be doing a price comparison from their mobile device while they’re in the aisle. Another customer might come into the store after receiving an email about a one-day-only in-store sale.
This is particularly true of younger shoppers who grew up with smartphones and everything digital. Today, nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of Gen Z shoppers use smartphones to compare while shopping, and almost a third (31 percent) have actually purchased something on their phone while in a different store.4
Finding ways to integrate the online and mobile experiences into the brick-and-mortar environment may deliver a better overall experience for target customers and potentially generate more profit in turn.
Below are some common ways to bring emerging technology into the retail store:
- Increase the ease and convenience of customer checkouts by enabling sales associates to accept payments in-store by using a certified mobile device or tablet that accepts Tap on Mobile.
- Allow customers to make their purchases online, then pick up the order either in-store at curbside for free.
- Provide a terminal or kiosk for customers to link their phone or app so they can access or print special coupons while shopping.
- For out-of-stock items, provide sales associates with tablets to help customers place online orders or check inventory for the item at other locations.
Closing the Loop
No matter where the customer is making their purchase—online, mobile or in-store—the key is to make it easy for them to complete the purchase. At a minimum, that means delivering a simpler, more secure and more seamless transaction.
This will help determine what kinds of upgrades are needed to the payment experience to speed up checkouts and keep sales associates focused on customer service.
Ultimately, a great omnichannel strategy is one that is more seamless, which is why payments is such an important part of bringing it all together. It is the final key step in providing the type of customer experience that consumers now expect—and successful merchants must deliver.
“As digital experiences become more deeply embedded along the entire customer journey,” 451 Research said in its report, “it has become table stakes for merchants and retailers to have a seamless cross-channel strategy with deeply integrated sales channels across online and in-store presences.”5
For more information on how to optimize the payments experience to support an omnichannel strategy, check out Discover® Digital Exchange (DDX).
1 451 Research, February 2021. The return to store in a digital-first, post-pandemic world. Viewed 27th April 2021.
2 Adyen Retail Report, 2020. The road to retail recovery. Viewed 27th April 2021.
3 451 Research, July 2020. Payments: A Catalyst for Reinvigorating the In-Store Shopping Experience. Viewed 28th April 2021.
4 The Center for Generational Kinetics in partnership with Discover® Global Network, 2019. Gen Z Goes Shopping: How the Primacy of Payment is Shaping the Future. Viewed 28th April 2021.
5 451 Research, July 2020. Payments: A Catalyst for Reinvigorating the In-Store Shopping Experience. Viewed 28th April 2021.
The information provided herein is sponsored by Discover® Global Network. It is intended for informational purposes, and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.