Cross-Channel Experiences that Customers Demand

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Retailers already know that today’s customers shop across multiple channels. And, multichannel shoppers tend to spend more too.

However, customers don’t see “channels” to shop by. They see one brand that they can choose their interaction with, whether online, offline, or a mixture of both. No matter where they shop, customers expect each interaction with your brand to be the same. If they buy online, they should be able to pick up or return that item in-store. Online products should how availability by store location. The list goes on!

Retailers who can provide experiences like these will win over more customers. So, what are customers looking for exactly? Check out our list of the top five cross-channel experiences that today’s customers demand.

Customers Demand Intuitive Cross-Channel Experiences

Don’t take it from us that retailers are leaving customers wanting for more.  

55% of shoppers say retail experiences are disconnected across channels!

You can’t afford to ignore customer dissatisfaction with shopping across channels with the same brand. Customers no longer shop based on lowest price or highest quality product alone. Instead, they’re looking for better experiences. They’ll shop with those retailers who provide it.

In fact, VisionCritical states that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product quality as the key brand differentiator.

With a seemingly unlimited supply of information at their fingertips, it’s easier than ever for customers to switch between brands. They won’t tolerate poor service or lacking experiences. Instead, they’re looking for intuitive customer experiences like these below.

5 Cross-Channel Experience where Retailers are Falling Short

What do customers want? See our top 5 cross-channel experiences that they’re demanding.

1. Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS)

Buy online, pick up in-store or BOPIS for short is more than just a new trend. In fact, almost 2 in 3 people have used BOPIS. Many customers use it to avoid shipping fees or for immediacy and convenience. No matter the reason, retailers are taking note.

By 2021, 90% of retailers will offer BOPIS, according to Retail TouchPoints.

If you’re looking to add this capability, look no further than Target. They make it easy to select a BOPIS option upon checkout and have orders ready within an hour or two. Then, they send customers an email notification telling them that their product is ready to pick up.  3JCKkdTyBDxX-JPTr2EMxppASnbfDPwAL8jIGcBQdviMdFv2vTUI3d6xzS6_jP0AIPB_6AQaPELp7Q1C4UWvfbuad5E1uh8_XkCGwwT1w_rgoYcG6OcuEQ5KddYzTAWSPW1gWdgd_eZJF632ag

2. Displaying Inventory Availability by Store Location

Many online shoppers begin their research online, even when they’re looking to buy in-store. One of the main reasons they visit your webstore is to check for in-store availability. And if you don’t have it, customers aren’t as likely to visit your store after.

A study reveals that 80% of consumers are less inclined to visit a store when the website does not provide current product availability—up from 56% in 2016.

Customers don’t want to take the chance of going to their local store, only to find that the product they want is out-of-stock.

Look no further than Home Depot as they pilot how to merge the online and offline shopping experience for its customers. For individual products, customers can check inventory levels by each location. sVRooPCImhRfF6-mzsrJ0phh4_KTEgs_NQB5Bx7-xwCNzPvw9jF7x01gj1cHbK4JoU0-FMHD9MwowF9If9BRskAKhh8IholH-K6lKQ7HtmS4tUrmwGQia654lMhbTcFSAwCzwOA8plYMP2Q_Mg

3. Shop by Location Online

Taking this above a step further, online shoppers should also be able to shop by store location. It can be tedious to go into each individual product to check for store availability. If shoppers aren’t interested in running to multiple stores or need to look up multiple products, it’s much easier for them to shop by location.

81% of consumers say that in the past six months they had looked up inventory on a retailer’s website before visiting a store, and 39% of consumers expect to see store inventory online.

Home Depot also allows customers to set a filter for “your store location” so you can check inventory levels for only products available at that location.


4. Multiple Fulfillment Options at Check-Out

All online retailers must combat cart abandonment. Customers abandon their purchase for all sorts of reasons – prices, shipping costs, lost interest, and more. Another reason for cart abandonment is that retailers don’t provide enough fulfillment options.

66% of consumers say that providing multiple fulfillment options influences their willingness to complete their purchase. 

Retailers should look for ways to allow customers to check-out one order using various methods at once. Even if you don’t have local inventory for all items for a customer, you could save a sale by allowing customers to ship the other items in one transaction. If you don’t make this obvious, customers might leave their cart to buy the items somewhere else that’s more convenient.

Consider how Wal-Mart above allows customers to pick a different fulfilment option for each product on the same order. 3cGZAUdnkXBPoscBj0JL1eYw7JTjsWsWi2e9qDto7hh2O1L7Crkf2Nn5zdjx55X7Yx6sVSYYYyZfTfGnA0Gsnp4ERFOOwJJe20-gZGcirc_EYAbasl23Th2tYbcL37WnA_-1ZF4hb3RWWtxV4A

5. Returns across Channels

An evitable of online shopping is dealing with returns. They can be a hassle for both the consumer and retailer. However, when returns are dealt with correctly, they can be used as a competitive advantage.

Consumers want clear, upfront return policies, the ability to return online items to brick-and-mortar locations, and don’t want to pay shipping fees. According to this Returns survey,

  • 74% of surveyed shoppers said they wouldn’t make a purchase if they had to pay for return shipping.

  • 38% of shoppers prefer to return to a nearby store whenever possible

  • 47% believe it’s easier to return to a store

Another important aspect of returns is being able to initiate them online. See how Sephora allows customers to begin the return process with their online account, then return items by either mail or physical locations.


Closing the Gaps between Channels

Retailers know that customers are demanding better experiences. The challenge for them is making their offline and online systems behind the scenes work cohesively and efficiently together. Your eCommerce platform must be able “to talk” to your POS and ERP systems for vital information like inventory levels, order status, customer data, and more.

Successful merchants are taking the necessary actions to make these types of cross-channel experiences a reality for their customers. Many are using multichannel integration platforms like nChannel to bridge the gap between their online and offline experiences. iPaaS platforms like these can perform some of the following capabilities by integrating platforms like Shopify and Shopify Plus:

  • Real-time sync of inventory levels as orders are placed

  • Multi-location order fulfillment

  • Direct integration with suppliers

  • Automate order fulfillment

  • Split orders by line items and location

  • Automate the return process

  • Sync customers records between platform for purchase history

How does your current customer experience stack up? How do you plan to meet customer demands? image?w=603&h=1&rev=1&ac=1&parent=1Ja-4vnDbpCbJHxApYkDaAWlizBdBMVK5vSWVaSJ1kEE

About the author:

Jillian Hufford is a Marketing Analyst for nChannel, provider of the simplest integration software to automate multichannel processes. Using both her writing and analytic skills, she assists the Marketing and Sales teams. Jillian performs competitor market research, provides analysis of key sales metrics, and writes informative posts on multichannel commerce trends. She holds a BA in Marketing from Otterbein University.

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