There is no doubt that online retail is one of the industries that has suffered the least from the global pandemic. Unlike its physical counterpart, which has seen months of forced closure, resulting in the closure of 17,500 chain stores in 2020 – equal to 48 per day – online trading has flourished. In a recent study, the top 100 UK retailers said a 52% increase in online traffic during the pandemic, with Ofcom finding that online retail spending jumped 48% to £113bn Last year. Reports believe that mobile commerce, or simply m-commerce, is driving this digital trend, with predictions placing it at 73% of all e-commerce sales.
However, despite the obvious opportunity offered by e-commerce, a shocking 89% of retailers think their digital capabilities haven’t been able to keep pace with the rise of online shopping. With m-commerce being such a big slice of the pie, it seems obvious that retailers need to focus their investments. Most high street retailers also have an online offering and it is crucial that they are able to provide a seamless experience across all channels for the best chance of success.
Opt for omnichannel
The beauty of omnichannel retail is that it gives customers additional ways to interact with a brand, regardless of which channel mix they prefer to use. When done right, an effective omnichannel strategy delivers a seamless experience for consumers whether they’re interacting with a high street retailer, its website, app, or even social media platforms.
The key to this is that consumers can easily move between channels to find the information they need to help them make a buying decision, without encountering friction or loss of brand identity. Operating only on multiple channels is not enough to cultivate an omnichannel strategy – it is simply multichannel. Investments must be made to ensure that content and offerings across all channels complement and build on each other. And it’s worth it: by engaging with customers in this way, brands are able to maximize loyalty and increase sales by providing a better and more engaging customer experience.
The magic of mobile
As part of an omnichannel strategy, mobile commerce can be a silver bullet for retailers, especially as younger generations – who are typically more comfortable with their smartphones than their older counterparts – are beginning to build a larger part of the consumer pool. The speed, ease and convenience of the shopping experience are all important factors that make m-commerce an attractive option for consumers. And its popularity will continue to grow as mobile-centric capabilities like social commerce, augmented reality, and one-touch payment solutions like Apple Pay and Google Pay continue to grow. With predictions attributing US$3.5 trillion to m-commerce this year, it’s a growth opportunity that merchants simply can’t ignore: mobile needs to be prioritized as part of a broader omnichannel strategy.
The key to achieving a great mobile experience is ensuring the right technologies and tools are in place to successfully augment and optimize eCommerce content for mobile. When content – including digital assets such as images, videos, product information or even 360° photography – is optimized for each channel rather than simply pulled from existing channels, engagement will increase as the shopping experience will be streamlined. However, adapting digital assets and increasing the amount of content that marketers have to sift through can create challenges around version control and ensuring that appropriate, approved and up-to-date assets are used on all channels. That’s why it’s so crucial to invest in tools like digital asset management (DAM) and product information management (PIM) software to keep digital marketing content organized, accessible and shareable among teams and business units around the world.
Implementing and integrating DAM and PIM tools can help ensure that retail marketers use correct and consistent assets and information about their products across every channel they market them on, whether it’s be it a physical store, mobile app or e-commerce site. This is the cornerstone of a seamless omnichannel strategy, as it sends a clear message to consumers that they are interacting with the same brand by ensuring alignment and cohesion at every stage of the buying journey, even if they change channels.
By adopting a clear omnichannel marketing approach – which takes into account m-commerce as this channel continues to grow – retailers will be able to communicate a strong message and brand identity to consumers, however they choose. choose to interact with the company. With multiple channels and countless assets and products to manage, investing in tools that make it easy for marketers to deliver the right content is the first step to getting there. Only then can retailers reap the full benefits of an omnichannel approach and begin to see its impact on the bottom line.
By Nate Holmes, Product Marketing Manager, Widen, an Acquia Company.