Why businesses need to adopt an omni-channel approach
The recent (and well publicised) reports of a number of high street retailers such as Comet, HMV and Jessops going into administration has reinforced the need for businesses to continue to adapt their strategies or suffer the consequences as a result. Prominent high street retailers that failed to capitalise on the e-commerce boom (making the move online too late) have consequently been dealt a harsh lesson in reality.
The opportunity online
On the flip side 2012 was another strong year for e-commerce with UK retailers achieving 14% year on year growth (IMRG) with similar growth is expected in 2013. Combine this with the incredible growth of mobile/ tablet commerce and this year presents a real opportunity to online businesses.
According to the latest BRC-Google Online Retail Index tablet searches increased 238% in the fourth quarter and the IMRG m-Retail index reported that mobile spend increased by a staggering 300% in 2012 with no signs of slowing down.
A connected approach
Many businesses have also grasped the fact they need to adapt to a number of channels in order to increase awareness and drive sales. While reaching out to customers through multiple channels (such as web, mobile, social etc.) is strongly recommended, this year it is about a connected approach; making sure all the channels work harmoniously and complement one another to drive growth.
The multi-channel approach of 2012 has evolved to the need for online businesses to have a seamless omni-channel strategy.
Keeping one step ahead
To ensure a successful year and to keep your business one step ahead of the rest we have listed a number of techniques businesses should focus on in 2013:
- Get the basics right – Ensure your traditional e-commerce site is easy to navigate, includes strong call to actions (CTA’s) and contact details are clearly displayed. Another strong consideration is how effective is your digital marketing strategy? Is it easy to locate your business in the first two pages of the search engines?
- Ensure your site is optimised for mobile - It may be difficult or unrealistic to optimise the whole website initially it is important that if someone searches for your website there are some optimised, responsive pages available to them to ensure a better browsing/ purchasing experience.
- Integrate a number of delivery options – While online delivery is popular businesses such as John Lewis have integrated a number of delivery options to give consumers a choice of how they want to receive their goods.
Popular alternatives in 2012 were Click and Collect/ Reserve online and collect in store (which Argos has mastered) and Collect Plus (a joint delivery venture that delivers goods to local convenience stores after noticing a gap in the market regarding failed online deliveries).
- Use social channels to reach out – Depending on the nature of business will depend on the type of social network(s) that you focus on. While in the past there has been some debate as to whether having a social media presence could deliver real value to an e-commerce outfit, businesses now realise its potential to help drive traffic and assist with online conversions.
- Embrace tablets and smartphones – The trend of having in-store tablets available to customers while they browse is growing as businesses have recognised the correlation between allowing customers to browse online collections in store and additional sales. With couch commerce also driving online sales these devices cannot be ignored.
- Testing, testing and more testing – Whatever the platform, continuous testing is important to ensure the ROI is there. Test different CTA’s, designs, content, navigations and page layouts and at the end of each test evaluate the results to see any strong results.