Retail shopping is (and will likely remain) a multibillion-dollar industry. As recently as Black Friday 2015, brick-and-mortar merchants brought in a whopping $12.1 billion in sales. However, this impressive statistic is lower than what retailers generated just one year prior.
It's not that American consumers are spending less, it's just that they’re buying products and services through other channels. Black Friday 2015 brought in $4.45 billion through online sales, nearly 60 percent of which came exclusively via smartphones and tablets.
As a merchant, the message is pretty clear:
In order to generate the most possible sales, you need to be everywhere your customers are. However, this doesn't simply mean expanding the number of channels through which you market and sell. Long-term success requires creating a truly seamless experience for end-users, whether they choose to engage in person, online, through social media or on handheld devices.
Yet how exactly do you create this type of omni-channel cohesion?
Below are some tips to get started:
1. Merge the Physical and Digital Worlds Together
The simplest starting point is to make sure your products and services are available both online and in physical locations.
If you run a traditional retail store, it's time to move some of your business to e-Commerce. If you're an e-Merchant, consider the benefits of trade shows and sponsored events.
Of course, be sure to incorporate social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram into all of your digital and physical marketing materials — complete with options to “buy,” “follow,” or “learn more.”
2. Design Your Site with Mobile Users in Mind
Remember that 60 percent of online shoppers use smartphones and tablets. Making your e-Commerce site mobile-ready ensures that those users have a much more enjoyable browsing experience. As an added benefit, search engines like Google give preferential SEO ranking to websites designed for handheld devices.
3. Allow for Account Creation
Many sites allow you to shop as an unregistered “guest.” Though by encouraging users to create accounts, you can offer a more seamless experience. If a customer initially abandons your checkout cart, for example, she can always return later and complete the purchase. What’s more, when a user contacts your support team, it’s easy to bring up her order history and shopping preferences.
Incentives like freebies, coupons and newsletters can help boost the number of registered sign-ups.
4. Invest in Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
With the right CRM platform, it becomes easier to personalize the shopping experience and provide superior customer support. CRM also allows you to segment and engage with customers based on their personal preferences.
For example, you can use:
- Social media for younger users
- Snail mail for older ones
- Email for everyone else
5. Invest in Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Technology
Although most users are content with email support, many still prefer calling customer service directly. However, maintaining call centers can be expensive — especially if you’re trying to provide 24/7 support to end-users.
It’s possible to reduce some of those costs by investing in IVR technology. This approach allows users to make payments, manage their accounts and quickly find the information they need — all without speaking to a live operator.
Want More Omni-Channel Sales Tips for Your Business?
The above represents the "tip" of the iceberg when it comes to boosting sales through your various channels. For an even more comprehensive list of best payment practices, contact our payment support team today for a free consultation.