OMNICHANNEL – YOUR KEY TO BRINGING YOUR BUSINESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Have you missed the boat?
I was surprised and overwhelmed by the response I received from my 2 recent posts on the need for businesses to adopt an Omni- Channel approach. Since my first post, more than 20 companies have contacted me requesting advice on how to strategize or embark on this new game changing approach.
While I welcome the response with open arms, there is still something that deeply bothers me. You see, I am greatly concerned by the growing number of SMEs not being aware of this concept. Even worse, it seems that many businesses have been led down the wrong path by many vendors or partners.
THE COMMON PROBLEMS
The most common feedback I hear is this ‘Ben, I invested a lot of money to develop a Mobile App, however, 6 months down the road, my mobile app has given me very little returns’ Another story that pops up frequently; ‘Ben, I did my website revamp and integrated it with a CRM solution. However, my sales appears to be the same as before’. These are the stories that I hear every single week. They are being told that ‘a mobile app is your solution to drive sales’, ‘an e-commerce platform is the answer’, ‘SEO is the thing you should be looking at’. It is interesting that whatever advice they give, seems to coincide with the services they are offering. And this is a shame! Good money has been thrown into the development of these systems that promise much but deliver little.
Let me share with you a simple concept.
Customers are not buying from a mobile app, ecommerce platform or just a physical store. Customers are buying your BRAND that has been communicated across MULTIPLE PLATFORMS!
YOU NEED TO TELL A CONSISTENT STORY
Creating an omni-channel experience is crucial to ensure that you succeed in the marketplace. It is not about choosing one channel over the other. It is about communicating a consistent experience and message across all these platforms. I am not saying that we take the same material and copy and paste it and spam your users. What I am saying is that we need to take the essence of a message and adapt it in a manner that best suits the platform. If needed, you can even deliver different aspects of the story across different platforms to further engage your audience and even increase participation.
A MOBILE STRATEGY IS A GOOD STARTING POINT
Again, let me qualify this statement. If you are going to build a mobile app that just shows your services, your store location, your contact number, don’t waste your money. Go get a Mobile Responsive Website and invest in a good SEO strategy. It will cost you a fraction of the cost. A good mobile application needs to be rooted in utility. You need a good loyalty program strategy. This ensures that you are able to further entrench your customers and immerse them in your brand experience. It is also a good way to get all your existing customers to quickly download your mobile application.
Now, we have a mobile application with a good loyalty program, so what’s next? Consider integration with your POS and CRM. The number one rule in marketing. Drive your decision with DATA. When you integrate all your touch points together, you are able to collect valuable data. You will know every segment of your market and understand what makes them tick. You will know which age groups like which products, you will know which gender responds better to which promotions, you will even know which group of people staying in which areas visit which outlets. And as any business person or marketer knows. Once you can get such information… the battle is half won. From there, it is about optimizing your offerings and products. You will save heaps of marketing costs and instantly get much better ROI.
YOUR MOBILE STRATEGY IS KEY
Take out your phone. Within this device lies all means to contact you (except physically visiting your home or workplace). People can call you, text you, email you, whatsapp. If you have a mobile app, people can send you a push notification. That is why, we need to strategize properly to send the right message, using the right platform, at the right time, telling the right stories, to the right people. That is why data and a mobile strategy goes hand-in-hand.
I know that the tonality of this post is a little on the strong side. But that is because I see so many business owners making the critical mistake of blindly throwing money into technology. Too often, they just blindly follow what their vendors (who are obviously selling their services) ask them to do without having a strategic plan. They end up wasting a lot of time and money but don’t get the results they were promised. This happens in the market all the time… But don’t let that happen to you!
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The changing landscape of business
A big change is coming yet again, especially for B2C businesses. Consumers have changed, and so have their demands on businesses. It is clear that businesses which successfully navigate these changing demands will get a strong competitive advantage over their competitors, and capture greater market share and profits. Conversely, those who do not will be left behind and quite possibly fade away. The smartphone revolution has more than affected the mobile phone industry. With it, a new generation has arisen – one that is constantly connected to the Internet.
Such a generation is changing the world of business. Being pampered by instant and increasingly perfect information, they search for information about any product and service they intend to consume before deciding to purchase.
According to Google, 95% of smartphone users use search engines on their phones, 92% seek local information, and 89% take action based on what they find, with 79% using their smartphones to help with shopping. A more recent report from Nielsen finds that 89% of people use smartphones while shopping in a store, with 40% comparing prices on their smartphones while shopping.
Research shows that consumers today are better informed, more selective, more prone to move from one brand to another and less loyal than ever. One clear phenomenon of this is “showrooming”, where shoppers view an item in-store but buy it cheaper online on competitors’ sites such as Amazon and eBay.
Through this, retailers have come to understand that people are always going to compare prices, and have launched their own eCommerce sites or mobile apps to try to capture the increasingly nimble and unloyal customer. To reach customers with a combination of various platforms, such as a physical store, an online store and a mobile shopping app, is to offer multiple channels or what is known as the multi-channel approach. This, however, is just reacting to changing consumer demands and habits, and has its own problems.
For one, these channels often act independently of one another, and the retailer’s knowledge of each channel exists in separate technical and functional silos. Businesses’ understanding of customers are also limited to each channel, and are unable to put all their customer data together in a coherent manner to understand their changing consumers. As an example, in-store associates do not know what customers have been viewing on the online store, and are unable to advise the customer according to their preferences.
To obtain a unified single view of their customers, businesses need to integrate their various channels together, such that all systems across the various channels communicate with one another. Having an integrated channel approach is called an “Omnichannel” approach.
The rise of Omnichannel
Such an approach comes with many benefits. Businesses are able to understand their customers through their interaction across the various channels and touchpoints, and are able to base their decisions on real data and analytics. From that, businesses are better able to serve customers and provide more value, which will spur customer loyalty and increase profits.
For example, Nike integrated their mobile app, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) backend system as well as their in-store point-of-sale (POS) kiosks to capture customer interactions and match it with transaction data. With it, they built detailed customer profiles and pushed irresistible personalised offers to upsell customers through their mobile app, increasing sales by almost 6% with these in-store offers alone. With such customer engagement programmes, Nike has gained 15x ROI.
Wal-Mart was also badly hit by showrooming, and has started to embrace aspects of the Omnichannel approach – it has built on its value offering of convenience by integrating their online store with their physical store. When a customer cannot find an item at their location, Wal-Mart encourages in-store clerks to refer the customer to Walmart.com, where customers can purchase the item and have it delivered to their homes.
Wal-Mart has also discovered that half of their online customers choose to pick up their purchases in the stores, and has created a designated pick-up desk in stores – customers can seamlessly and conveniently pick up their purchases, as compared to slowly picking up their items from the aisles and queuing up to make their purchases at the cashiers.
Clearly, businesses are realising the value of adopting an Omnichannel approach, and are starting to embrace it to meet the changing demands of consumers.
What this means for your business
In the face of changing consumer demands, businesses should not mistake phenomenon such as showrooming as the threat – the real threat is failing to create a differentiated and compelling experience that engages customers. Studies from Columbia Business School and Gallup find that for most consumers, getting the absolute cheapest price is not the highest priority, and that customer engagement is important to drive the eventual sale of a product.
An Omnichannel approach can definitely help a business to successfully understand and engage consumers, and thus drive profits. Here at Balanced Consultancy, we believe in listening to our clients’ needs and building fully-customised solutions from the ground up for each client. This ensures that our solutions are completely tailored to the needs of each business and delivers maximum value to each client.
At Balanced Consultancy, we do not try to fit your business into pre-existing systems; we build the solutions around your needs. Talk to us today to find out more about what we can do for your business.
Call us at +65 64382006 or click here for enquiries.
Mobile Apps are Indispensable to Modern Businesses
The profusion of mobile gadgets has transformed how consumers want to interact with businesses. The convenience of accessing information, products and services from mobile apps is defining the business success for consumer-centric organizations. Adapting and leveraging mobile applications as an extension to core business services promises new opportunities to engage millions of customers and building brand strength.
Proven Success Stories
The world-famous U.S. coffee maker Starbucks has experienced unprecedented business growth since its mobile app launched in 2011. The company generated over $1 billion in mobile payment revenue last year – that’s 4 percent of the entire U.S. mobile payments volume in 2013!
Starbucks customers are so fond of using the app that every tenth purchase in the coffee shop is made via smartphones, over three million times per week.
Chipotle, another global food chain offers similar mobile payment services to speed up its services. Mobile payments services have enabled the company to process six additional transactions per hour during peak hours.
Starbucks is already using a similar app service that allows users to order before they even arrive at the coffeehouse. Perks like these have a viral effect on sales, but hitting the sweet spot with mobile app marketing requires businesses to mold their mobile services in response to changing market trends and app usage patterns. For this reason, Chipotle plans to invest further $10 million to improve their app service.
Indispensable in Nature
Mobile apps are essential to serving a growing customer-base that’s increasingly over-reliant on smartphones. Research firm Gartner predicts mobile apps will generate revenues of more than $77 billion by the year 2017.
Smartphone apps have emerged as the ‘glue’ binding physical products and services in-store to the digital world. Proliferation of the cyber-era fueled by mobile technologies is shaping consumer habits across all industry verticals. This phenomenon in turn is driving appropriate business strategies designed around smartphone usage. And these usage trends suggest apps are by far the most preferred choice for the well-connected customer-base to access Web-based mobile services.
Apps enable users to get to your products and services with fewer clicks and save transactional data and relevant information required for future purchases. And once customers download and use apps specific to your business, they will likely use the same app again in the future instead of seeking services from your competitors.
A Cautious Mobile-First Approach
However, users aren’t clamoring to add more apps to their already-cluttered smartphone home screens. On top of that, business competition has already taken center-stage in the app market segment. Organizations need to push an omnichannel mobile strategy with their app investments in linking multiple Web-based marketing channels through their mobile services.
Venturing into the mobile marketing segment with an omnichannel approach and using mobile app services is essential to delivering a unified customer experience. This mobile strategy promises high brand strength and loyalty while reducing brand confusion.
And for developing apps intended to enhance business success, hiring third party vendors is a viable strategy as the frame of mind required for traditional IT services is starkly different than the mindset required to develop viral app services.
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Earlier last month I was giving a talk to the Senior Management of a large local SME. The talk revolved around the future of Mobile Technology.
My task for this morning was simple. To help my potential client, convince her boss and her board of directors that Mobile is the way to go and that they need to set aside a budget to invest in their Mobile strategy.
Rather than engaging in the usual spiel of future mobile trends, mobile landscape, etc., I decided to adopt a more intuitive approach.
During the session, I took out my wallet and told the Senior Management that herein lies the future of Mobile Technologies.
CONFUSED? Well, so were they.
You see, people frequently ask me how confident am I that Mobile Apps are not just a passing phase. This again is the wrong approach to take. Mobile Applications is not a question about technology. In fact, Mobile Technology is really about convenience and utility.
Human beings are innovate creatures. We constantly look for shortcuts to do things better and faster. The reason Mobile Apps have taken off, is because they allow people to be more effective and they provide plenty of increased convenience to customers.
A good example is loyalty card program. I am sure many of us have had this experience. We go to a shop or restaurant – make a purchase – we receive a loyalty card – we put it in our wallet – it makes our wallet look fat and ugly – we forget about it – it expires.
Annoying isn’t it? The beauty of a Mobile App, is that it helps to reduce all these inconveniences to the customers. Imagine this scenario. User download your apps – chalks up reward points – there’s no clutter to the wallet – when points are expiring, a notification gets sent to the user – they head down and redeem and probably makes a purchase – Customer Happy, Company Happier.
A BAD EXAMPLE
In Singapore, I see so many Mobile Apps for companies that fail. This is because they don’t approach the Mobile App development from the perspective of convenience to the customer. All they do is to lump everything from their website into their Mobile App. The moment you don’t provide convenience, well you can forget about people downloading your app.
WALLETS WILL GET FLATTER
Let me take out my crystal ball and do a prediction.
The trend for the next 10 years will be this.
Wallets will get flatter.
This is because many of the things found in your wallet can be easily converted into a Mobile App.
And of course, there is an inherent benefit to your customers.
They no longer need to carry heavy wallets full of expired coupons.
More importantly, if designed properly, your Mobile App can even enhanced the whole customer experience and bring out your Brand identity.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR BUSINESSES?
Well, take out your wallet.
Most of the things within your wallet can be digitized.
That is why you need to position yourself early in Mobile App adoption.
If you can start inculcating in your customers a habit of using your app, the dropout rate would be much lower.
This means that you need to start assessing the viability of a Mobile App loyalty program, mobile commerce, mobile reservation, etc.
Don’t let your competitors get a head start on you. Move fast, move quick, move now!
Feel free to call us at +65 64382006 or simply click here for enquiries.