How A Small Business Can Use Omni-Channel Marketing To Retain Customers

by Emily Retherford

4 min read

Omni-channel marketing is a strategy that provides a seamless experience for the customer, regardless of channel or device. Customers can view a product in the store, website, mobile app, catalog or through social media. For example, say a customer is looking at a sweater in the store and decides to walk away. A few days later, the customer researches the same sweater on his or her tablet and decides to place it in the shopping cart. However, before the sweater was bought, the customer became sidetracked by something else. Omni-channel marketing works by having that same sweater show among all of the customer’s devices. Any websites visited on a desktop computer would show advertisements with a picture of the sweater. On the customer’s smartphone, the mobile app would immediately pop up a reminder that the sweater was still pending in the shopping cart. Regardless of the media used, omni-channel marketing works by giving a consistent and personalized experience to the customer.

Create an In-Store Shopping Experience Online

Business owners wanting to use the omni-channel marketing approach should begin by developing a website that gives visitors the same feeling as being in the store. Many business owners spend most of their resources on creating a storefront that is both visually appealing and highly functional for selling merchandise to customers. However, when customers leave the store, the marketing should not stop. Crate and Barrel is a prime example of having a website that gives the same experience as the store. When visiting the website, customers get the same experience as walking through the showroom. Not only does the site showcase the individual products the company is selling, but in the same style as the store. Plates are shown photographed in a beautiful setting, complete with tablecloth, crystal stemware, and decorations.

Business owners who have a store setting should have the same feel and look translated throughout their website to help retain customers. Businesses that do not have an inventory-based store could also still benefit from this method. For example, bookkeepers or accountants could have a website that helps clients easily manage finances just as if they were in the office.

Have a Functional Mobile App

With smartphones becoming the most popular form of technology, almost every major company and business has its own mobile app. A mobile app should do a couple of things. First, it is designed to be a minimized version of the desktop site where customers can find and buy the company’s products. However, most apps do these basic functions, yet aren’t really that effective. A truly omni-channel mobile app provides interactive features the customers can continually visit to enhance the shopping experience. Disney does an excellent job of integrating its mobile app with all of the Disney services. Mobile app users can use the app as a ticket at one of the amusement parks. They can also use it as a reference or mapping tool to find attractions, restaurants, and other park features in their immediate vicinity. Disney customers who download the mobile app find they use it very frequently during their trip, and it enhances their overall experience in a very positive manner.

Business owners should ensure that both the desktop website and in-person customer experiences are translated to the mobile app. For instance, a real estate agent could have a very functional mobile app that helps clients easily search for homes that fit their particular criteria.

Merging the Online Experience Into the Physical Store

Another way to increase omni-channel marketing is to take the ease and convenience of online shopping to the physical store. Online shoppers looking for a particular item would have an easier time searching on the website instead of going to the store. If someone is looking for a yellow shirt, the website would show every yellow shirt the company sells. When in the store, the customer has to search all over to complete the same task.

Integrating the ease of online shopping within the store greatly increases the customer experience. The women’s clothing retailer, Oasis, does this very well. With a great website, customers can easily browse, pay for, and request to pick up their clothing in the store. To enhance the experience, each customer is given an iPad with a special inventory system application. When a particular product is found on the iPad, it notifies the customer if it is available and where it can be found within the store. Customers can also shop solely with the iPad and a salesperson will find and package the product for them. For inventory that is not available in the store, customers can still purchase and have it shipped to their home. With this revolutionary idea, Oasis has seen sales and customer service increase, while seeing a decrease in checkout lines.

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