In Neiman Marcus stores, sales associates carefully take note of customer behavior.
“First, they observe the customer — what they’re doing, what they’re saying, their facial reactions,” Neiman Marcus VP for Customer Insight and Analytics Jeff Rosenfeld told Retail Touchpoints. “Then, the associate acts: recommending a product or an alternate item that might fit the customer differently.”
But, of course, associates can’t approach consumers while they’re shopping online at home. So Neiman Marcus takes a more high-tech approach: They use web analytics like page views and time spent on the site — as well as features that can remember a consumer’s size and preferences. In other words, it’s almost like the retailer has a digital salesperson to help its online customers.
As consumers seek to make purchases through multiple channels — whether in-store, in-app or online — retailers like Neiman Marcus are seeking to be omnireadi. But some retailers have a lot of work to do to make their different channels easy to use and attractive to consumers. Retailers studied through the PYMNTS OmniReadi Index saw an average score of 73.4 out of 100, so they have some room for improvement on their omnichannel efforts. Here are five strategies retailers should keep in mind when trying to effectively reach consumers through multiple channels.
Eight of the top 10 omnireadi merchants have implemented a wishlist for customers. Savvy merchants use wishlists because sometimes their customers aren’t ready to place an order, but they want to remember the product so they can purchase it at a later time. In addition, merchants sometimes run out of a stock on a particular item. When the item comes back in stock, customers can find out through their wishlist. Overall, products that are on wishlists are more likely to sell out than those that are not.
Seven out 10 of the top 10 omnireadi merchants have implemented a price match. Competing with Amazon’s prices has mostly been an online battle of eRetailers throwing down the gauntlet, but some brick-and-mortar stores are launching price matches too. DICK’s Sporting Goods has fine-tuned its price-matching policy that covers all regular-priced items and their identical twins at other stores. The retailer isn’t alone in its effort to match competitor’s prices. Just last month, eBay said it would price match more than 50,000 items for U.S. buyers. On the other hand, Walmart has reduced its price matching in 800 of its 5,000 U.S. stores.
All of the top 10 omnireadi merchants offer a purchase history feature to customers. Purchase histories can help retailers learn what customers are buying so they can send them targeted offers and discover which items are typically purchased together. Apple, for example, rolled out a more personalized version of its App Store, which, according to TechCrunch, recommends “new products based on its understanding of the devices you already own.” If a customer owns an iPhone, for example, then the App Store could suggest a matching case.
All of the top 10 omnireadi merchants offer free shipping to customers as well. Customers like free shipping because they perceive the costs of shipping to be higher than they should be or they enjoy not having to choose between various shipping methods based on price. Walmart, for example, offers free shipping on purchases totaling more than $35. And, of course, Amazon Prime offers its members free shipping on orders amounting to more than $25.
Seven of the top 10 omnireadi merchants offer geo-aware apps. Staples, for example, launched a pilot program that would let shoppers browse an interactive map of its stores through the official Staples app. Aimed at shoppers who know what they intend to buy and would rather grab and go than browse the aisles, the app update also lets consumers tag items for later, which drops pins on the interactive map to guide shoppers to the exact in-store location they want. Not to be outdone, Target has launched its own version of consumer-facing, in-store location tracking, complete with a Staples-like interactive in-store map personalized to each applicable location.
Still, even retailers like Neiman Marcus are just beginning to ramp up their efforts to reach consumers through multiple channels. “There are not a lot of people doing this well yet, but we’re starting down this journey,” Rosenfeld told Retail Touchpoints. “There are technologies to optimize this and see all the interactions of the customer, and I’m excited to see what comes in this area.”