It’s not enough for Walmart to simply offer everyday low prices and expect consumers to still make the trek to their local brick-and-mortar supercenter. Even traditionally offline retailers such as Walmart have to expand their omnichannel offerings to reach consumers.
“Our strategy is to make every day easier for busy families,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon has said. “To accomplish this, we continue our transformation to become more of a digital enterprise that moves with speed and agility.”
Walmart has made various improvements to its in-store pickup and delivery services, for example. The retailer’s innovations come as 55 percent of customers shop both in-store and online, according to the PYMNTS Omni Usage Index.
And when it comes to communicating through multiple channels, some features matter to consumers more than others. Free shipping, for example, is more important than product recommendations to many shoppers. Here are five omnichannel features retailers should keep in mind when reaching consumers online.
— Nearly half — 44 percent — of consumers rank digital coupons as the most important omnireadiness feature. Sitting down to clip coupons before carting them in-store for redemption may become a thing of the past. In 2016, visual search technology company Slyce announced the launch of its Snap-to-Coupon retail product, which allows customers to snap a photo of a retailer coupon and instantly generate a mobile-optimized version. The digital coupon can then be stored within the retailer’s app, enabling push notifications to be sent as a reminder to the consumer to use the coupon before it expires or when a physical store is nearby.
— A little more than half — 52 percent — of consumers rank free shipping as the most important omnireadiness feature. At Amazon, for example, Amazon Prime Shipping is by far the most important perk for the average member, keeping shoppers fiercely loyal to the platform. Some 82 percent of users said they would cancel if the free two-day shipping were discontinued, according to research released by behavioral marketing platform SmarterHQ — which means fast delivery is more important to subscribers than other ancillary Prime services, including photo storage, music streaming and eBook privileges.
— Forty-three percent of consumers rank store pick up as the most important omnireadiness feature. Walmart is now letting customers place orders on its website and pick them up at a designated pick-up tower in select stores. The tower holds, retrieves and dispenses online orders by scanning a barcode displayed on the customer’s smartphone screen. It requires no employee direction at all and, of course, no in-store shopping. The pickup tower basically works like a huge, high-tech vending machine for online order pickup. Mark Ibbotson, executive vice president of central operations for Walmart U.S., said on the company’s blog that the technology allows customers to retrieve their online orders in less than a minute.
— A little more than a quarter — 26 percent — of consumers rank recommendations as the most important omnireadiness feature. Craves, for example, allows users to take a picture of the clothes they like, upload it to an app and promptly receive similar items that they can purchase online. The pictures can be taken directly from the app or uploaded from the phone’s camera. Cofounder Scott Cormier, who was previously the mobile product manager and designer at Wave Accounting in Toronto, said it was his wife, Nadine, who inspired the idea for the app. “She’d routinely snap photos or save screenshots of outfits she wanted to track down later,” Cormier said. “She’d save them all to an album on her phone and then try to track them down via Google, Pinterest, etc. whenever she’d have a spare moment.”
— Forty-eight percent of consumers rank price matching as the most important omnireadiness feature. Dick’s Sporting Goods, for example, price matches regularly priced items and their identical twins at other stores. The retailer isn’t alone in its effort to become more competitive in the eCommerce arena — eBay also has its own price match guarantee program in which it will match prices for over 50,000 of its items to competitors as long as both products are the same. In order for one of these items to qualify for price matching, it must be sold through the eBay Deals trend section of the site.
For mass merchants such as Walmart, the goal with omnichannel commerce is to know their customers’ needs and leverage their physical scale to better meet customer demands. And it’s a constant evolution for retailers, who are deploying the use of new technologies.
“We have tests going on with digital endless aisle shopping, robotics and image analytics to scan aisles,” McMillon said. “And we’re using machine learning to assist our merchants with pricing.”