Buy locally – or on the other side of the globe?

Buy locally – or on the other side of the globe?

Omni-channel is the key to successful shopping – and successful selling. We analyse the new shopping behaviour of your customers and show you how to be successful in all channels.

Many retailers are unsettled by the topic of omni-channel: How can I improve my activities in order to meet my customers' expectations and boost my income? Do I need to invest a lot of money? Am I doing the right things in the omni-channel arena that will lead to success?

The most important thing is that you understand your customers. That may sound simple, but in reality it can be quite difficult. A consumer world full of promise means that customers can buy whatever they want, whenever they want, and from wherever they want. Consumers love their brands – whether making purchases locally or on the other side of the globe. Omni-channel is the key to successful shopping – and successful selling. Retailers need to be familiar with the "shopping trips" their customers make via the various channels so they can offer them a seamless and efficient service that is tailored to their needs. It is vital, therefore, that they offer their customers personalized payment options and added value, which in turn fosters their ability to make decisions while shopping.

Omni-channel: more than a buzzword

A recent study carried out by MasterCard revealed that, in the world of marketing and consumer analysis in 2015, omni-channel is a corporate goal, not just a buzzword. As a retailer, you have a choice to make: Do you want to invest in an omni-channel strategy and technology, or rather in data that reveal details to you about customers? An analysis of credit card transactions showed that shopping revenues that flowed via multiple channels were higher than when customers used just one channel for their purchases.

Retailers need to learn how to deal with the new reality of how their customers shop, and adapt to the fact that these purchase routes are no longer strictly linear. Today, a purchase may look as follows: a customer clicks on an e-mail in her inbox from a store recommending beauty products, for example. Then she looks for reviews from other customers among her social media networks. After this, she searches in Google for her personal voucher code and, finally, completes her purchase on her smartphone or tablet. The customer could then even go into the store to pick up her beauty products in person – and while she is there buy even more.

The golden rule for omni-channel: know what your customers want!

Remove all potential obstacles blocking your purchase routes. Make sure you are in a position to process all payment methods in all shopping channels – in your stores, online, by phone or through mail-order – and are able to offer alternative payment options when needed – quickly and securely. Today, customers take it for granted they will be able to choose their preferred payment option. The offering must comprise credit cards, eWallet, PayPal, bank transfers, etc. High security standards are an important part of this. Customers expect that retailers will handle the personal data they have entrusted to them in the strictest confidence. And they are becoming more and more cautious about which data they are willing to share with companies.

What is more, your customers expect to be rewarded for their faith and loyalty; show them the appreciation they deserve. Your loyalty programs should be integrated into all sales channels, and they will work even better if they are customized and personalized. Whether redeeming bonus points, applying discounts, or cancelling or exchanging a purchase, all of these follow-up transactions do not necessarily have to be processed in the channel in which they were originally initiated. For example, a customer places an order online and wants to exchange the goods in the store; he expects to be able to do this immediately. Consumers who are familiar with the benefits of omni-channel have clear expectations of what their retailers should do. You risk losing them if you don't take their needs seriously.

An omni-channel product in the pilot phase

Omni-channel is also becoming more and more important for hotels and their guests. SIX is currently developing a new idea that will improve the omni-channel offering and experience for customers. We are integrating the payment function into a Europe-wide e-check-in/out solution. In future, hotel guests will be able to book a room on their smartphone using this app, check in and check out, and also gain direct access to their hotel's booking system. Simple, fast and convenient. Online and offline. The service will be improved, while operating costs will fall.