The following is a personal view on why multi-channel is so important, evolving your business to make the most of today’s rapidly changing landscape. “Multi-channel Retailing: An Introduction,” check our dotmailer guide to marketing automation for multi-channel

Don’t tell me about omni-channel, I’m not God, you’re not God

Firstly, lets get rid of the term ‘omi-channel’, and never speak that phrase again, you can’t be everywhere – but ‘multi-channel’ – wooh, there’s a thing, choose the channels that help you sell.

Buyer funnel-

Delight your customer

Consumers are expecting this kind of integration already, they want to feel like you’re online, offline and drone delivery service are all connected – they want one face of the business and ease of access to the things they want.

This can be click and collect, same day delivery, buy in store – but beyond that, you have to have the infrastructure right.

The whole purpose of multi-channel is to shorten the distance from want – to get.

BUT – it’s not all about the customer, imagine the benefits multi-channel retailing offers to your business, benefits that make investing in the strategy worthwhile.

Don’t be afraid of the investment and change, you’ll see a bill, infrastructure changes and a sales team that are reluctant to switch off their pagers and unplug the fax machine – BUT IT’LL all be worth it.

A nice study dotmailers suite of toools

dotmailer’s marketing automation lets you set up data-driven conditions. When they’re met, an email, SMS, push message or other traditional fulfilment is automatically sent to the right person, with the right message, at the right time. Quick. Easy. Effective.

dotmailer seamlessly connects your data to marketing automation so can create:

  • Webform sign-up automated emails
  • Mobile & email engagement-driven programs
  • Customer insight-driven programs
  • Anniversary-driven automated email programs
  • Website engagement-driven programs
  • Lifecycle marketing and nurturing programs
  • Track your customers in real time as they proceed through your program
  • Our Contact activity report provides a snapshot of how your customer is engaging with your programs and individual campaigns.
  • Delve into their behavior with address book & segment inclusions.

Oh go on – check out this video instead of reading, its the modern way

These tools, like everything you’ll find inside dotmailer, are to help you be the best, most successful marketer you can.

Basic SMS multi channel prog

Improved customer perception

People are watching television, whilst tweeting on their phone, browsing the news on a tablet – and my girlfriend is often appily adjusting the water temperature ahead of a bath – that’s 4 devices on the go. (Plus radio 4 middle-classing-up my kitchen on a digital device)

Now, whilst not entirely linked, customers expect this kind of flexibility all the time.

Bath time, Hollyoaks, the Caribbean and a follow up text

So whilst spotting an advert on TV for a great Caribbean escape, I might google that product (or better still Shazam the advert) – this gives me the opportunity to ping it to my girlfriend’s phone.

Since the bath water is now at optimum temperature, she can customise the bits of the holiday she likes, and send it back to me..

I hold off for a while to watch a thrilling episode of Hollyoaks – and in that time I’ve received an email with a discount code and some alternative suggestions based on what we might like.

The next day I get a text, would I like to chat with an operator? Or better still pop into a branch and speak face to face with a consultant…

It goes on…. This is the beginning, if not the middle – of the mulct-channel dream. Only it can get a bit annoying, so watch those contact points.

NB – this should all be followed up with SMS reminders, thankyou emails, future discounts and a glossy brochure from the VIP programmed – and why not tie into airport retail… endless!

Do, or die

Brands who don’t provide this kind of experience, are likely to lose customers as others innovate and become more relevant.

Stores who do create a seamless experience that integrates all different forms of technology, however, can gain significant customer loyalty. Those brands are perceived as forward-thinking and responsive to customer’s needs — qualities that will keep customers coming back.

Just 2 channels - but its mulit!

COMING SOON – Loyalty blog coming VERY soon – how excited are you?

Increased sales

The primary driver for a retailer adopting any strategy is, of course, increasing profit, most frequently by increasing sales. Multi-channel retailing, by offering a variety of engagement points for the customer to make a purchase, increases the convenience and ease of sales, thus boosting profit.

Better data collection

Knowing the customer is a key tenant for successful retailing, and multi-channel engagement points provide more opportunities to gather information about customers.

There are two benefits to the data collection offered by multi-channel retail: First, the possibility for gathering more information exists, and the information can be used more effectively.

“People usually are more comfortable entering information themselves, rather than giving it to a salesperson,” said Steve Deckert, marketing manager for Sweet Tooth, a Toronto-based provider of loyalty programs to retailers. “So they are far more likely to enter their email address into a kiosk than give it to a cashier. At the same time, by having that information available across a variety of channels, the retailer has more opportunities to capture the information, and more of it.”

If a retailer can track what a customer is purchasing, and where, more targeted marketing can be introduced. Someone who tends to browse online and then purchase in-store, for example, can be emailed an invitation to a private showing in a store, and the list of products to be shown can be sent before the event, increasing the likelihood of purchase.

Not only is it more likely that the customer will provide important information, but if all the different channels are communicating, then the information only needs to be entered once.

“If you’re going to ask someone for information about themselves, it needs to be available whenever they come to you,” said Verizon’s Bagel. “Otherwise, it feels intrusive and annoying to have to repeat the same information over and over again.”

Enhanced productivity

Multi-channel retailing offers benefits for more than shoppers. Workers, too, can benefit from the use of new technology, by arming them with more information and increasing their efficiency.

A tablet, for example, frees employees from the point-of-sale system, instead allowing them to carry the register with them. Employees can go directly to the aid of customers, helping them to find out what is in stock, what is available at other stores and when new products might be launching. The tablet also can contain information about the loyalty program, so a frequent customer can be given VIP status. Then, when a purchase is ready to be made, the customer does not have to stand in line, but rather can simply continue talking to the salesperson and make her purchase via tablet.

Best practices

While every type of channel has its own unique set of challenges, there are some strategies that are true across all engagement points.

Be consistent. Messaging across all channels should have the same look and feel; the customer should always know exactly what brand she is interacting with.

Retailers have approached each channel individually – what is quite blindingly obvious, is to create a single marketing message, and then figure out how to deploy it across all channels. Messaging can be personalised – but it must be unified.

Because they’re worth it Make sure each contact offers something to the customer. Think about this – I’m not going to tell you how to delight your customers. Just delight them.

Security Don’t freak out your customers, make sure you treat their data with the UTMOST respect, and don’t go telling them things that would worry you, if a stranger approached you with it – wait until the relationship is built.

Understand your brand strategy and what level of intimacy is appropriate. Depending on your customer base, they may need fewer hugs and kisses — digital natives tend to be far less concerned with privacy than mums and dads, for example – but theres a way to win everyones confidence. Try out a few methods – tweak the one that works.

Be committed. Multi-channel retailing requires an investment in time and money. There needs to be a clear strategy across all teams, and cooperation is critical to success.