Photo: COVID-19 accelerates the adoption of omnichannel retailing strategies to understand clients that increasingly frequently purchase through digital means. Credit: TheDigitalWay | Pixabay

By José Manuel Blanco

Surely you have received an email with the newsletter of your favorite clothing brand. After seeing the offers you might have asked the chatbot on their website some questions. Once answered, maybe you decided to buy a product from your mobile phone. If this is true for you, you are a great example of the omnichannel client.

Without forgetting the physical store, omnichannel retailing means being in contact with the client through multiple media (websites, smart speakers, chatbots, etc…). This trend has been accelerated by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has increased the number of purchases without contact and online purchases.

In the weeks of the confinement period, two out of every ten consumers started to buy consumer goods through the internet, according to the Spanish Association of Manufacturers and Distributor (AECOC). “The current situation has shot forth online sales of these type of products over night, to the point where some operators indicate that currently 25% of sales stem from this channel,” reports the Association.

With this information, companies that know how to present themselves to the client through many channels will come out winning. It is not enough to place warehouse products on a website or to answer enquiries through as many media as possible: the objective is to create a brand experience and personalized attention for the client. There is a critical process, or moment, when the client investigates the brand; that’s where the importance of having a well-integrated digital ecosystem comes from,” states Bernardo Duce, director of Technology and Consulting at Opinno.

“In modern times, nearly all of the projects that are born with a digital vision have the premise of omnichannel retailing, something that already is in and of itself a great step,” explains the head of Digital Marketing at Opinno, Juan Perteguer. “At the industrial and corporate level, the big players are still far from a true omnichannel presence, burdened above all by tools that are incompatible with this model of positioning the client at the center, independent of where they make contact, purchase, or interact,” he adds.

Photo: The period of confinement has demonstrated that physical stores can be closed right away, so you must find digital ways to reach the consumer. Credit: Sergey Zolkin | Unsplash

“The concept of omnichannel reach is something that all companies are working towards, because they are realizing that the new client is very peculiar and they must reach them through different channels,” expands Duce, who thinks that throughout this year and beyond we will see many omnichannel experiences. In his opinion on the coronavirus, “companies have realized that, when you may least expect it, they can shut you store and you can be left suddenly without clients,” then continuing, “either you have the logistics and the ecosystem for the client to continue consuming and you can continue to relating with them, or you’re out of the market.”

Perteguer predicts that in ten years, “all companies will be omnichannel oriented,” and that, otherwise, “they will be at a serious disadvantage to their competitors.” Opinno is executing omnichannel projects in sectors such as those of insurance, banking, and energy, as the expert points out: “We are very active because the need and real-world benefit this capability provides in the commercialization of products and in gaining the loyalty of customers has become even more clear.”

Photo: Companies should prepare themselves to attend to a client that has multiplied their options for finding information and products. Credit: Artem Beliaikin | Pexels

Profile of the Omnichannel Client

There is no framework robot of the omnichannel client, as “precisely that is the richness of omnichannel retailing,” explains Perteguer, that is, treating each one as unique according to their interactions, the way they communicate and their purchases. “Similar behaviors cans be determined, and through this, processes can be automated, but the differential value is to put the client in the center and allow a gratifying free interaction that leaves a trace of their behavior”, he explains.

The study The Consumer of 2030, published in 2019 by the EAE Business School, predicts that in ten years the so-called consumer 3.0 will conduct the majority of operations through their mobile phone, will prefer to subscription over possession, and “will have a powerful criterion that will help companies define their new products and services.” In addition, “they will be more emotional, with greater economic power and will be exposed to many stimuli,” as well as “infidel” and “sybarite”. At the same time, “the greatest challenge will be transforming so much data into relevant information.”

“Sales will come because of customer loyalty”

Any company, no matter how small or because it is part of a sector we cannot yet imagine, could develop an omnichannel strategy. Duce summarizes it by saying, “a company that has clients and needs to make it easy for them,” and he adduces the example of Sánchez Romero supermarkets, which during the confinement period prepared orders that reached workers vie their email, telephone, or messaging apps. Only in the last two weeks of March, 35% of their home deliveries were done through email, 25% through the online store, and the same percentage used the telephone and 3% opted for WhatsApp.

Photo: Mobile phone, computer, smart speaker… The ways to reach a consumer have multiplied. Credit: Gustavo Fring | Pexels

“Now everyone is reaching clients through social networks. All have expanded the on the phone as well, they all want to be with it, it’s what you keep in your pocket and it’s a way of building loyalty,” tells Duce. In his opinion, “publicity on its own doesn’t yield sales, but rather, they will come thanks to the loyalty of the customers, thanks to transmitting values, thanks to having them hooked to the brand.”

The Traditional Purchase

Que The fact that consumers rely more on the digital does not mean that they stop going outside and walking on the street. Physical stores also form part of the omnichannel strategy. “There are still many people that prefer to buy in a store, the social act of going out appeals to them, but a major percentage of the time, the decision tends to be made online,” says Duce. Perteguer adds that businesses should surprise more and more “to have a clear incentive for the consumer who is willing to go if they are going to find something of sufficient value that compensates for the convenience of buying digitally.

The Consumer of 2030 coincides that stores will not close, but that they will serve to forge brand loyalty. Without reaching that date, the director of the Omnichannel and e-Commerce Strategies program at ESADE, Marc Cortés Ricart, gives his opinion in an article in Cinco Días that the physical store should become “an experiential space” and not transactional. “Without added value, there are no reasons to go to them,” he asserts. For this, the treatment of customers will have to be personalized. Gamification, the organization of events and making the spaces “Instagrammable” are other actions to attract the omnichannel audience.

Photo: Despite the preferences of buying on the internet, and through various different channels, the experience of stores still attracts clients. Credit: Clay Banks | Unsplash

To The report RESTART: 10 post-COVID-19 tendencies by Opinno signals to companies that the break due to the virus should be taken advantage of as a time to reflect and to go for new consumer experiences. Doing it through an omnichannel approach is one of the keys to construct a new relationship with the client and to facilitate the buying and after-sales experience. In this way, business success may endure.