Omnichannel shopping helps customers shop without surprises

“Omnichannel commerce” may sound like yet another buzzword but if you look closer, you’ll find businesses need to rethink everything—starting with mobile.

Tue Apr 05 10:20:45 EDT 2016

In 2016, customers don’t care about the channels businesses want to sell to them on, however, they do have a few “wants” of their own:

  • They want to start shopping in one channel and continue that experience when they switch to another channel - whether it’s something placed in a wish list or shopping cart, or research they’ve started on their mobile phones and want to continue on their tablets or desktops.
  • They want to buy the same products they see their friends from other countries have bought and posted on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

“Omnichannel commerce” may sound like yet another buzzword but if you look closer, you’ll find that businesses need to rethink everything—and they best start with mobile.

Customers want mobile and easy to use

Look around when you’re shopping and you’ll see people on their smartphones. Your analytics team will likely tell you the majority of your web traffic comes from mobile. Mobile sales are lower only due to obstacles, such as payment and how easy (or difficult) it is to finish shopping—which is one of the reasons marketplaces are so popular with shoppers—they offer a simple shopping “interface” to sellers.

Branding = If I want to buy it, can I find it?

As the Pitney Bowes 2015 Global Online Shopping Study reported, “consumers browse for products on a number of platforms including search engines, social media, retailer websites and even email.”

In an omnichannel/cross-device-everything world, every product needs to be “branded”—meaning it needs something to make if findable. No matter how obscure or rare, consumers need to be able to find merchandise using search engines, because, if buyers can’t find it—they can’t buy it.

Customers hate surprises

Every retailer has the chance to build a lasting relationship with the buyer. And it is not just about price; there are many other factors involved. Sometimes an, “I can trust them to deliver what they promise” is enough.

Sadly, we all have had this experience: You ordered something based on information you’ve gathered and felt good about it. Then the surprises start: “It will cost more because…”; “You also need…”; “It will take longer…”. Customers hate surprises like these, and get annoyed because of inconveniences and unexpected costs. Hiding crucial information may have worked in the past, but today consumers share those frustrations on social media, often including your company’s name.

Don’t hide the facts

While watching Sam Coiro’s “A telling tale of a Canadian cross-border shopper” I nodded my head in sympathy, because I’ve had similar experiences being located in Germany. Of course, I use a checklist before ordering to avoid unwanted surprises. Delivery takes 60 days? No problem. Shipping is available in five days and costs triple? Maybe I need that. The instructions are not available in my language? Just tell me which languages are available. It only comes with a US power plug? That’s fine, I have enough adapters.

On eBay you will find Chinese sellers showing customers the delivery time to their countries. Consumers can then decide if this is acceptable. And if customs fees are involved customers will look at the specific section on the offer: Does the seller take care of the paperwork and how much extra does that cost?

Wherever you sell, provide all the facts so the customer can decide.

Omnichannel selling requires new business thinking

A successful omnichannel customer experience makes the customer “the star of the show,” however only a few companies are built for this kind of approach. Knowing that, it might be smarter to start fresh—and take full advantage of modern technology.

This post was written in partnership with Pitney Bowes. Nicole Simon has been compensated, but the thoughts and ideas expressed are her own.