It's the holiday season again! As many people around the world make vacation plans, draw up shopping lists and spend time with loved ones, you're stocking up on the inventory of your scented candles and soaps in anticipation of a surge in holiday sales. Stacking the last box, you make your way back to the front of your retail shop.
You've been running your small business for the past 10 years, making each batch of award-winning, vegan-friendly candles and soaps by hand. Aside from the small retail presence, you also have pop-up kiosks in various street markets and festivals, a Facebook Business page, some social ads, and a simple Shopify website for online sales.
Recently, you've noticed that sales have been slowing down quarter-on-quarter. While there will always be competition from large brands in shopping malls, you have a growing database of customers who want to know what goes into the products they use. Sitting down, you ponder how you can boost your upcoming holiday sales.
What can companies do now to be ready for the holiday season?
The holiday season is fast approaching. The festive shopping time is a golden opportunity for businesses. Make sure your business is ready for the holiday rush on major celebration days like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, New Year's, and even Lunar Chinese New Year.
Despite headwinds, it is expected that holiday sales will increase by 4-6% over last year, a sign that consumers are still eager to spend money on gifts, decorations and more. In a study by IBM, however, hybrid shopping—a blend of physical and digital channels—is used by 27% of consumers and 36% of Gen Z shoppers.
As a result, retailers with many different sales channels need an omnichannel strategy that allows them to sell directly across all channels while providing exceptional customer service at the same time. Furthermore, the experience must be consistent from device to device, in-store and online. How are you able to do this?
What is omnichannel marketing?
People often use multichannel and omnichannel marketing interchangeably in the same sentence, but they're not the same!
Multichannel marketing is what most businesses are used to. This is where you provide consumers with the option of purchasing via one channel or another. For example, if someone is browsing your website but wants to know what your soap smell like before making a purchase, they can visit your shop in person. This gives them flexibility in their decision-making based on location or convenience.
Omnichannel marketing takes this concept further by offering a single, seamless and consistent customer experience no matter which communication channel a customer uses. For example, your salespeople at the shop, kiosk and website will know which soap the customer prefers as well as recent purchases through open API integration.
As consumers change their shopping behaviour, business teams such as marketing, sales and customer service must adapt as well. Multichannel has traditionally been about engaging consumers and the quantity of channels, whereas an omnichannel approach is more about the customer experience and the quality of customer service.
What can omnichannel marketing do for your business?
✅ Unified communications. Digital commerce is growing and the pandemic has accelerated this trend. Before, customers might have browsed your website and called your shop to make enquiries. Digital savvy customers now engage you via live chat, email, and Facebook, expecting you to remember what was said elsewhere!
✅ Reach customers. As businesses reposition themselves to be wherever their consumers are—especially for the target demographic of Gen Z users—they are extending their reach to better serve those same customers. It now simply takes one click to access products, services and support whenever and wherever they are.
✅ Boost customer satisfaction. When you delight your clients with exceptional customer experiences, such as remembering birthdays and anniversaries for which they are buying presents, you are nurturing loyal brand advocates who will refer new customers (and sales) and increase their entire customer lifetime value.
✅ Increased productivity and profitability. Productivity increases because you only need to collect customer data once and not at every touchpoint. Plus, a holistic view of customers means that you don't need to strategise for every channel. These two advantages work together to improve operational efficiency and reduce costs.
How can an omnichannel strategy boost sales?
An omnichannel approach will help you increase sales by giving consumers a seamless shopping experience in-person, online or smartphone. Personalising recommendations based on past purchases or browsing history can also let customers find what they want without browsing many pages of products.
Here's how you can implement an omnichannel strategy using a total experience platform like CINNOX.
1. Speak as a brand, not channels
Remember that consumers interact with brands, not marketing channels. It's time for businesses to stop taking an inside view of customer communications and adopt an outside view instead. Take a good look at your interaction workflows as consumers are not interested in your marketing team operations but in their own buying journey.
For instance, CINNOX's web widget at your Shopify store offers unified communications by combining chat, phone and video discussions into a single platform. Your agents can switch between channels with a click, share brochures and screens for a full multimedia experience, and move prospects through the buying journey more quickly.
2. Be where your customers are
It's no secret that shoppers will use the channel that offers them the most value for their purchase. Some consumers will take advantage of a store's retail presence and convenient location to try on shoes, for example, and then buy the same shoes at discount at Amazon the next minute! There is nothing you can do to stop this.
When you have more control over the distribution and pricing of your product, like your handmade candles and soaps, for example, you can ensure that your brand shows up on every channel your shoppers use. An omnichannel marketing strategy means that buyers don't miss out on an opportunity to purchase with you.
Live chat, web calls, emails, and Facebook Messenger messages are all treated as omnichannel enquiries when you integrate your communication channels with CINNOX. This prevents interactions from falling through the cracks, which is common when salespeople are juggling many queries across various apps and devices.
Furthermore, you can take interactions offline for the times when consumers are not on their devices. The use of QR codes in CINNOX, for example, means that you can embed them in printed ads, leaflets, posters and more. So when customers are ready to follow up, they'll simply scan it to initiate a web call or live chat session.
3. Provide consistent experiences
As customers move across platforms and devices, they want consistent shopping experiences that make it easy for them to find what they're looking for and keep them in your brand loop long enough to purchase. An omnichannel call centre can manage the various channels and conversations so you can focus on selling.
Using CINNOX, your agents can become all-knowing and get a holistic view of the customer, including all conversations and what was said. In addition, agents' consistent use of enquiry labelling can help others filter customer enquiries to find best practices in similar situations or get answers to frequently asked questions.
4. Deliver proactive customer service
Imagine spending time and money to outfit a retail store, hiring sales assistants, and then ignoring customers when they come in. That is exactly what is happening with your e-commerce site! Having an online presence is just half the battle. The other half is taking a more proactive, consultative approach for website visitors.
Rather than depending on conversion rate optimisation (CRO) techniques, use CINNOX's smart greeting function to welcome visitors. While some shoppers prefer to browse alone, others will appreciate you asking questions to better understand their gifting recipient and what kind of presents they are looking for.
A visitor clicks on the live chat link below the smart greeting, for example. From the enquiry window, your sales agent knows the visitor browsed custom candles—a specific HTML colour code is wanted for a gift. The agent checks with wax dye suppliers, confirming its availability while a happy prospect adds a custom candle to the cart.
5. Personalise the buying experience
How can you get to know your customers better, whether you're engaging them in your physical store or online? Of course, by talking to them. When you converse with consumers, you are also gathering valuable insights that can be used to customise the shopping experience and provide data for machine learning and AI analysis.
Customers remember one-of-a-kind experiences. For example, CINNOX's relationship mapping technology routed a web call to you because the visitor's browsing language is German. You greet the guest with a hearty "WILLKOMMEN!", showing off your prior knowledge of German and perhaps earning yourself some laughs!