Shopping experiences that were considered cutting-edge not long ago are now baseline consumer expectations, and retailers that fail to deliver them are losing rapport with shoppers, fast. For today’s consumers, that includes omnichannel journeys: consistent, made-for-me experiences, synced up across multiple channels.

“A requirement for survival”

Earlier this year, Sailthru partnered with Coresight Research to release its 2022 Retail Personalization Index Retailer & Consumer Survey. The annual report explored trends reshaping retail, and ranked retailers on how well they’re meeting consumer demands around personalization. To that end, Sailthru analyzed 500 brands and 80 brand attributes, paired with survey feedback from 5,000 consumers and 260 retailers.

Unsurprisingly, surveyed consumers ranked omnichannel experiences as a must-have expectation. The finding is consistent with an April 2021 McKinsey analysis, though the research firm puts it more bluntly, calling omnichannel “a requirement for [retail] survival.”

Though omnichannel isn’t a new conversation, many retailers still lag behind. Sailthru’s Retail Personalization Index report found that only 41% of total retailers orchestrate experiences as consumers jump from one channel to another. Retailers that do get it right earn high marks from consumers: 80 of the 100 top-scoring retailers sync up customer logins and profiles between their app and website.

From many channels to true omnichannel

If you’ve ever filled up a shopping cart on a retailer’s mobile app, then switched to desktop only to find the retailer’s website didn’t reflect your shopping activities, you know the frustration that follows disconnected shopping experiences. The same goes for marketing messages that conflict with past buyer behaviors or customer support that disregards what you’ve already shared with brand representatives.

“As a customer, it’s so frustrating to receive a text message about a flash sale when you’re troubleshooting a botched fulfillment for the same product. It’s happened to me, and it was right after I had emailed and called customer service,” shares Laura Carrier, retail industry advisor for Sailthru. Having to re-explain a complicated return or re-enter a tracking number or promo code are other common sources of frustration that plague disconnected channels.

Personalization as a must-have omnichannel enhancer

More than linking channels, personalization plays a crucial role in delivering experiences that are relevant, consistent and compelling across channels. Thrive Market, the top-ranked retailer in the Retail Personalization Index, understands that customers want options when it comes to customizing their journey. “Thrive Market progressively asks questions along the customer journey to both enhance personalized experiences and increase convenience,” Carrier shares. “Importantly, most questions are optional, allowing customers to choose when it is convenient to answer them, and how much personalization they want. Thrive Market also shows the value exchange that customers will get for each piece of information requested in easy-to-understand, layman’s terms.”

Fashion Nova, landing in 12th place in the Retail Personalization Index, saw its ranking jump more than almost any other retailer in the past year. The fashion brand uses predictive analytics in post-purchase emails to cultivate customer loyalty. To that end, Fashion Nova follows up on purchases with automated email campaigns that ask “What did you think?” to inform personalized “We think you might like…” recommendations in the future.

Enabling custom experiences with data, platform unification

Reasonably, the types of omnichannel experiences covered this far hinge on automations and dynamic personalization. Those are difficult capabilities to master when working with disconnected data and platforms.

Unifying data and systems is why retailers like Thrive Market seek cross-channel platforms like Sailthru, which enables marketers to centralize user data from various sources to deliver instant, hyper-personalized actions. “Long-term, privacy-compliant integration and consolidation is the goal, but if you’re not there yet, ensure that the platforms and vendors you’re working with can meet your highest-priority use cases for creating both continuous experiences and convenience,” Carrier advises.

Taking next steps

Enhancing omnichannel experiences reduces risks to retailers, both now and in the future, argues McKinsey, adding that retail leaders must act quickly. As the industry evolves, omnichannel transformation is increasingly attainable, even for resource-strained organizations. Instead of building omnichannel capabilities and shouldering implementations alone, retailers can instead lean on technology partners who’ve already mastered those integrations, says Carrier.

“Retail leaders are so close to the challenge, they often don’t see solutions or opportunities right in front of them,” Carrier explains. “Your technology partners can help you uncover blind spots, get the most out of technologies you already own, and guide integrations to solve omnichannel challenges that are slowing you down and hindering your progress.”

Wondering how your peers are tackling omnichannel and other customer expectations? Glean from detailed insights and see how 100 retailers stack up when you access the full 2022 Retail Personalization Index Retailer & Consumer Survey.

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