Digital and Omnichannel – More Important Than Ever

Digital PR

With online buying and pickup in-store options higher than ever, CMO attention must also accelerate digital and omnichannel content marketing strategies. Before the pandemic, less than three-fourths of the top ten retailers out of 125 had been employing omnichannel best practices. The annual study was started five years ago, and the latest discovery revealed that best practices were only being used by 66% to 73% of the top ten, a decline from 2018.

While the study excluded innovation and features like AI (artificial intelligence) and AR (augmented reality), it looked at, and assessed factors that it believed should be standard for well-run omnichannel and digital programs. As such, it viewed and ranked companies across three categories – web, mobile, and cross-channel.

Of 125 major retailers, only two, Home Depot and JC Penney ranked high in all three categories. To get there, they had to score best practice adoption rates of at least 63% on the web, 72% on mobile, and 82% cross-channel. FirForCommerce was quick to add that doing well in one or more of these categories was no guarantee of success and said it felt those companies were on the right track for success. Nordstrom, Tractor Supply Company, Target, and Best Buy landed in two of the three categories. Here are some takeaways from the study.

The study discovered that even before the pandemic, BOPIS (buy online/pickup in-store) and BORIS (buy online/return in-store) were already rising in popularity. FitForCommerce estimates that BOPIS doubled in the first half of 2020, especially with many retailers expanding their BOPIS options to include curbside pickup.

What FirForCommerce was also quick to point out is that many companies that expanded their BOPIS options missed an opportunity to upsell through such strategies as personalized product recommendations using enhanced content. The firm found that only 52% of brands had added personalized product recommendations and enhanced products to their BOPIS strategy.

Once considered a nice to have service, BORIS is now essential for many brands. Extending a seamless return system fosters increased customer loyalty and trust. 83% of those polled now employ BORIS. And to further ensure customer confidence and satisfaction, 92% said they trained their associates to be versed about returns of online purchases.

Another omnichannel expectation today is showing customers if and when a product they’re interested in is available online or in the store. Brands must ensure that they can offer customers multiple options so they not only can determine if an item is in stock but when they might expect delivery or pick it up curbside. Of the merchants polled by FitForCommerce, 67% say they now reveal product availability online.

Real-time inventory management can be important, too, to enable merchants to recommend a similar product to customers if what they’re seeking is unavailable or sold out.

A lot’s been written lately about the value of personalization and cannot be overstated. A recent study by Kibo Commerce said that ROI could increase by as much as 300% when personalization hits as many customer touchpoints as possible in both marketing and shopping channels. The software firm said it found that more than half (52%) of the 400 eCommerce executives polled were applying advanced personalization that analyzes customer data to personalize BOPIS offers and shipping.

A thorough and well-planned digital and omnichannel strategy is needed for brands to thrive in today’s environment. Besides what’s been suggested, other important areas to keep fine-tuning our customer service, clear and credible communication with customers, and shipping. Since the pandemic, free shipping on orders and return items has become extremely important to many consumers.

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