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Let’s begin by defining each:
- Omni-channel e-commerce (meaning, “all” channels) unifies sales and marketing to create a single commerce experience across your brand.
- Multi-channel e-commerce (i.e., “many” channels), while less integrated, allows customers to purchase natively wherever they prefer to browse and shop
Developing a successful business strategy means understanding the differences between the two and picking the one that’s right for your business.
Multi-channel marketing and sales enable customers to not only interact with your products through whatever medium is most natural to them, but to purchase through that medium directly.
The best metaphor for a multi-channel marketing is a wheel with spokes.
At the center of the wheel is your product (i.e., a sale). On the outer rim of the wheel are your customers where each channel offers a separate and independent opportunity to purchase.
In Omni-Channel Retailing, Tommy Walker from Shopify offers what is easily the most expansive summary of the term:
“Omni-channel as a philosophy is about providing consistent, yet unique and contextual brand experiences across multiple customer-aware touch points, including brick and mortar, marketplaces, web, mobile and social.”
“It’s about allowing consumers to purchase wherever they are while communicating in a way that is in tune with why they use a given channel and showing awareness of their individual stage in the customer lifecycle.”
When making the jump from single-channel to multi-channel marketing, there are a few things you need to keep in mind at all times.
Most importantly, you absolutely need to know which channels your target customers typically utilize. For example, it would make no sense for a company whose target demographic consists of baby boomers to become present on Snapchat; similarly, a company targeting teens and young adults likely wouldn’t fare well by focusing on direct mail marketing and radio advertisements to generate a buzz.
Similarly, you need to consider which channels your target customers expect your brand to be present on, as well. When you have identified your channels, you then need to optimize your message each device accordingly.
When it comes to omni-channel marketing, the tenets mentioned above still apply – but there’s more. In addition to knowing where your customers are, knowing what they expect from you, and optimizing your presence on each channel your brand is active on; you also need to focus on using each of these channels to enhance the customer experience, as well.
It’s not just about being present on multiple channels – it’s about the value your presence brings to the customer via each of these channels.
If you’re familiar with e-commerce, and/or have read our other blogs, you know that e-commerce is being re-shaped and overtaken by mobile commerce. For brands and retailers who haven’t come aboard and launched a mobile app, there’s no better time than the present to get started.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some things to consider about your app, that will attract your loyal customers, and more importantly, keep your app on their mobile device.
Good User-Experience (UX)
This is a pretty obvious element, but it bears mentioning. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Better yet, think of apps you have on your own mobile devices. Are they difficult to use and navigate? Probably not. Screen space is valuable real estate, and nobody is going to keep an app on their device that isn’t simple to use.
Some Elements of a Good UX
- Make things easy to find
- Clearly identify and provide detailed descriptions of your items
- Fast, secure, checkout
- No hidden costs
Just because you’re using technology, and aren’t face-to-face with your customers, doesn’t mean you can’t add a personal touch to their interaction with your app.
This is a prime example of why capturing rich customer data is important for understanding your customers interests and buying tendencies.
One example to take note of, is personalized push notifications. Amazon Prime does an excellent job with this. They will make personalized recommendations based on past purchases or related to items you may have left in your cart.
Flash Sales and Discounts
F.O.M.O…An acronym that stand for ‘Fear of missing out’. It’s that gut-wrenching feeling that everyone else is taking part in something, or getting something, and you’re on the outside looking in.
Flash sales are a business model in which a company offers a single or limited product selection for a discounted price over a short period of time. Sales typically last anywhere between a few hours to 24-36 hours.
You may not even need/want what’s being sold, but the idea of scarcity, and losing out on great deals is too hard for many customers to pass up.
Discounts are obvious. Why would anyone NOT want to save money? This is likely THE reason your customer downloaded your app. Make sure they’re seeing the benefits of having your app on their device. Also consider offering certain items as ‘app-only’ purchases.
Alternative Payment Options
Aside from secure payment options, digital customers demand a variety of payment options.
The reason is two-fold: Simplicity, and security.
Popular modern payment options include:
- Amazon Pay
- Google Pay
- Apple Pay
Simple check-out with minimal steps, and protected personal information. That’s what your customers expect.
Even cryptocurrency options like Bitcoin are gradually becoming payment options with retailers.
This was not by any means an exhaustive list. Consider these a solid foundation to build upon if you want to launch and maintain a successful retail app.