It’s no secret that a large majority of Americans today shop online.
Seventy percent, to be concise.
But that doesn’t mean those online shoppers never step foot in an area store first to take a gander at what they eventually bought online.
It could very well be that their decision to buy started at that local store, right in front of a bright and shiny kiosk.
Options were offered and decisions were made. Not sure if the product was right, however, the consumer may have headed home, only to be alerted via e-mail hours later of a remarkable discount they could take advantage of, should they decide to buy the product this week.
The consumer reviews the product again online; the same one they looked at in the store.
The discount is applied. And the product is delivered days later to the local store they walked into earlier that day.
When this kind of buying process unfolds (and it does, every day), we are witness to the omnichannel buying experience in its purest form.
Omnichannel is a retail business model that uses a variety of sales strategies across multiple channels to enhance the customer shopping experience, no matter their location.
To be clear, an omnichannel experience is different from a multichannel experience. The difference is found in the depth of integration.
Simply put, all omnichannel experiences will use multiple channels, but not all multichannel experiences are omnichannel.
A brick-and-mortar store is almost always part of that experience. And now, more than ever, digital signage installed in store locations can bring the omnichannel buying experience to a higher level for both consumers and retailers.
The meaning of customer service is changing. Finding ways to leverage that customer service with kiosks or other digital signage options in an omnichannel strategy can amp up the omnichannel experience, ultimately increasing your bottom line and enhancing your overall marketing strategy.
Here are seven ways omnichannel marketing is changing the game for retail businesses all over the globe.
1. Buying Options at Every Turn
Analysts predicted Best Buy would go bankrupt after they lost over a billion dollars in 2012, thanks to a surge in online purchases.
Amazon, for example, was selling more electronics and offering greater incentive to purchase from the couch, pushing Best Buy into the shadows.
But the big box retailer fought back by offering ‘special’ alerts on consumer’s smartphones and pick-up options in-store for those that originally bought online.
In a 2015 report, Best Buy indicated that up to 4% of their online traffic results in dead-end sales because they didn’t have the inventory needed in their distribution centers. The inventory, however, was available at other stores 80% of the time. By offering ship-to options from other stores, their sales increased significantly.
Best Buy even began offering express kiosks for consumers so immediate needs could be met, even at 2 o’clock in the morning.
Things changed drastically for Best Buy when they implemented these various touch points for the consumer.
By putting buying options in place for the consumer at every turn, Best Buy was able to win back the consumer and dig themselves out of a financial rut.
2. Offering Inventory Information
When we shop for something we want and we find something we really like, it can be disheartening to discover our size is not available.
When this happens, we leave the store and seek what we want elsewhere.
Kohl’s has dodged this bullet by installing in-store kiosks that allow buyers to search inventory on the spot.
To make up for the fact that they might not have what you need on hand, they sweeten the deal by offering free shipping right to your door. This keeps the customer happy and makes them feel like they’re getting something extra.
These same kiosks allow the customer to track their order via the kiosk itself or a mobile app.
No one is left in the dark and the consumer can feel confident they won’t be forgotten.
By offering inventory information, consumers can continue their search, even stumble upon similar items that may entice them to buy while waiting for their original want to appear at their doorstep.
3. Visual Product Offerings
Browser screens in some retail clothing stores are giving consumers the ability to see the product they want dressed on actual models and then projected on a large, virtual display.
This interactive option lets consumers see what they might look like, should they decide to purchase the items for themselves.
Using interactive touch screens, Adidas is doing the same thing at Harrods in London.
Consumers can choose an outfit they’re interested in and then watch as the large digital screen portrays a model move around in that very outfit.
Hoping over to Amsterdam, Tommy Hilfiger is also amping up the retailer’s omnichannel sales strategy by using digital signage to create a digital showroom.
CEO Daniel Grieder said the idea isn’t so much about marketing as much as it is about “streamlining sales and, as a brand, being more informative.”
Grieder expects within three years that all of its Tommy Hilfiger showrooms worldwide will be equipped with showroom technology.
4. Cross-Selling Related Products
One of the most effective marketing omnichannel strategies working quite well is cross-selling, or, the ability to sell related items to the buyer.
After a consumer has visited an in-store kiosk and is ready to checkout, retailers can cross-sell to the consumer by offering something else the buyer may need.
For example, if the purchase is a washer and dryer, perhaps the cross-sell products are laundry baskets or detergent soaps.
Upsells can also be incorporated. If the consumer has intention of buying a particular model washer, they can be alerted of a higher end model at a greater cost.
By highlighting key features, the consumer may be compelled to upgrade right then and there with real time suggestive selling.
Fujifilm uses these concepts with their kiosks, offering consumers lots of different ways to upgrade during their buying experience. Fuji uses the upsell feature to offer related items and timely promotions to increase sales and keep customers engaged.
5. Educate and Inform
When a consumer buys a product they’re not necessarily familiar with, understanding how to use and maintain that product with ease is half the selling battle.
Big-ticket items like digital washers and dryers or high-end vacuum cleaners require a learning curve.
Aside from images, upsells, pricing, and features, including information that educates and informs is a plus. When a consumer can find answers without being pestered by a sales person, they are more likely to buy.
As it were, 70% of consumers use a mobile phone in a retail store to research products they’re considering for purchase. Giving those retailers the ability to discover all they need to know at the kiosk gives them a reason to stick with the product and purchase right then and there.
6. Empower the Employee
While some consumers prefer to be educated at the kiosk, others prefer conversation with a salesperson.
By arming an employee with an interactive device, that employee need not worry about being outwitted by technology.
Interactive devices put valuable and pertinent information in the palm of the associates’ hands. No question goes unanswered, no concern unaddressed.
Interactive devices can be the point of sale, too. By digging into inventory, educating the buyer, and placing an order in real time, the sales associate becomes the extended human factor of the technology.
Apple uses all of this and more when it comes to enhancing the buying experience. Sales associates aren’t just researching and sharing information, they can also print sales receipts and coupons right before the customer.
No more long lines, no more waiting. The sales associate, armed with an interactive device, becomes the center of the universe for the consumer.
7. Boost Branding
The brand image of a company is the crux of who they are and what they can deliver.
Since the beginning of advertising times, companies have relied on mediums like television and radio to deliver their brand. But times, they are a-changin’.
Today business and retailers are moving from static platforms of advertising to omnichannel platforms that include in-store digital media technology. In a word, they want to tell their brand story across multiple channels.
Because branding creates emotional connections, businesses want to create a branding strategy that appeals to their human needs. What better way to do that than to show up in-store, online, and in a consumer’s hand via a smartphone?
Establishing emotional connections are critical to retail success.
When a retailer can create a promotion or offer that appeals to the consumer on a level that relates to them, the consumer recognizes the uniqueness of the brand and shares the value of that brand with others.
The worldwide market for digital signage will reach a staggering 4.5 billion dollars in 2016, and is expected to reach $20 billion by 2020.
It’s clear the way we’re buying is changing.
Websites are behaving more like stores, and stores more like websites. As the line between the two fades, digital signage emerges as the front-runner in any powerful omnichannel retail engagement strategy.
Which of these strategies inspire you to make a change in your omnichannel strategy?