Omni-Channel and How to Get Consumer Attention Through the Smallest Shop Window

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Consumers are spending more and more time online. For marketers, it used to be relatively straightforward: a single digital touchpoint that captured consumer attention. Now of course, that single digital touchpoint has grown to include mobile, tablet, phablet, desktop, digital kiosks, even game consoles. One size no longer fits all.

For example, one recent report published by UK retail trade body IMRG and Capgemini (the m-Retail Sales Index) shows that 52 percent of Web traffic to retail sites currently comes via smartphones and tablets. And over a third (36 percent) of UK online sales are now completed on a smartphone or tablet device — a figure that rises to 40 percent for clothing and apparel merchants.



So, while visits are higher for mobile than online, the actual sale might not be completed via mobile. In other words, there is obvious complexity in how consumers use an increasingly growing number of devices — to browse, research, check inventory and purchase items.

One recent report by Forrester indicates that 56 percent of U.S. and European shoppers have used their mobile device to research products at home, 38 percent have used their mobile device to check inventory availability while on their way to a store and 34 percent have used their mobile device to research products while in a store.

We live in an omni-channel world.

This omni-channel complexity is compounded by the sheer volume of digital content, campaigns and websites that companies, particularly in the retail sector, are using to grab consumers and engage them in specific online content — be that a lookbook, mini campaign microsite or simple landing page. According to Chartbeat’s Tony Haile, 50 percent of websites get just 15 seconds of attention.

So, for brands that are competing for consumer attention, the reality is that they have tiny windows of opportunity to grab it, and the majority of that window is through the tiniest of screens. The challenge is to make the moments matter and focus on delivering ‘instant digital gratification’ — engagement in the moment — by delivering the best possible customer experience, instantly across every digital touchpoint.

And this means that marketing and content campaigns have to reach across channels and approach consumer engagement conceptually as a life cycle that often twists and turns. Mobile, for example, is not just a place where sales happen; it is an opportunity to build deeper consumer relationships based on context and ease of use.

Catering to this demand for being creative, producing rich and engaging experiences that immerse the consumer instantly on a variety of devices, yet deliver the passion and depth — rather than just efficiency — is a real challenge for marketers. So what can they do?

There are three simple steps that marketers need to consider to deliver rich and creative campaigns to the right places so that they will be seen and turn the initial glimpse into a deeper dive as the consumer moves toward the checkout.

Three Steps to Mastering the Device Ecosystem

1. Think omni-channel – thinking in terms of a holistic approach to how sites, content, creative and branding are seen and used. Most retailers now view omni-channel as a strategic imperative, but marketers too need to be on point with this.



In the UK, the House of Fraser, for example, takes a ‘mobile first’ approach to site design: creating around the idea that the site is more than likely to be seen on a mobile device rather than a PC but designing so that it also works on a PC, using scrolling and buttons that work well with fingers as well as cursors. [Note: The House of Fraser’s approach is similar to New York & Company in the U.S. See here for the recent webinar highlighting how they increased customer engagement 600 percent.]

In the future, we can expect even more devices where consumers will interact with you. So, design for smartphones, tablets, desktops, kiosks, game consoles, smart TVs, intelligent billboards and more.

2. Put creativity into each channel – while omni-channel is a holistic approach to how your brand is seen by consumers, it’s important to simultaneously look at how to develop sites, offers and experiences in different ways to service different platforms.

Microsites can be used to great effect when consumers are reaching you from mobile devices since these can be tailored to the limitations of screen, bandwidth and navigation. Changes should be designed in to optimise that microsite as a richer experience for tablets since the larger screen allows for more creative freedom as compared to the smaller mobile device.

Mobile also offers the opportunity to push out location-specific content, services and offers to devices based on where they — and their user — are located as well as what they are doing.

Store kiosks present a different set of opportunities. They are fixed in a specific location and used by consumers in a search mode, often when they can’t find what they have been looking for in store on their mobile — or when they want help. It follows that the experience should be less creative, more helpful and well organized.

3. Create, review and deploy – With the prospect of having to develop for a variety of devices with differing creative imperatives, marketers need a simple way to create, review, approve and test — and then amend on the fly. Moreover, the richness of experience and instant gratification on any channel relies on being timely and consistent as well as able to react more dynamically, for example, to stock levels or allow for offers and promotions to be quickly deployed.

Using tools that allow for the creation of multiple properties as well as different triggers and offers across all these areas is imperative if an omni-channel marketing approach is going to work. Better still, if multi-channel experiences can be created on a collaborative platform, then time-killing review cycles of feedback and sign-off are massively reduced.

Conclusion



Consumers are time-poor; they browse casually, no longer setting aside dedicated time slots for ‘looking at the Internet,’ and more often than not, it happens on any given mobile device. Yet to gain attention and loyalty, experiences offered by retailers should follow an omni-channel approach that is simultaneously sensitive to these tiny moments of engagement — rich and consistent across all channels so that it appears seamless to the consumer. For the marketer, it’s an intricate job of creating the overarching message, branding and experience yet tailoring it to each kind of channel (not device, but to each device type: smartphone, PC, tablet, kiosk and more).

And this is the hard bit. It requires tools that allow for instant and easy creativity, testing and on-the-fly reloading. But it can be done, and it is the sure-fire way to engage consumers.

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