Retail shoppers’ expectations have changed a lot over the years. Even just 10 years ago, walking into Nordstrom I would have to literally start from the ground floor.
Today, I walk in already knowing what deals are available, what items are on sale and what’s new in stock. I’ve been sent rewards and updates through emails, as well as Instagram. Pictures of new items are great incentives, as is knowing what I want before I even enter the store.
Even if you’re not a big retail shopper, just think about your latest Amazon experience. They customize the customer’s experience from webpage to delivery. Each customer sees a customized tab (e.g. Catherine’s Amazon), where Amazon places suggestions and new items they feel you’d be interested in. Just the other day, an SMC team member purchased a t-shirt with a giant pig face on it solely because Amazon suggested he buy it. (It surprisingly, also happened to fit his personality quite well.)
Customers are now increasingly expecting customized buying journeys and retailers who know them before they even set foot in the store. Even though retailers pioneered omnichannel as we know it, they’re not the only ones who can use it.
The core idea of omnichannel is a seamless customer experience — a bridging between on and offline. But that isn’t easy. If it were, more brands would be winning at it.
While not a cure-all, social media has made creating an omnichannel experience for your consumers more attainable (and arguably necessary) for brands of any industry. The omnichannel experience encompasses much more than just a marketing strategy, but mastering omnichannel on marketing is a great place to start.
Omnichannel is about consumers. So is social media.
Both omnichannel and social media start with consumers, or more specifically, customers’ perspectives. Social media can put you in close contact with your customer. What better way to understand a customer’s perspective than to have access to their personal social pages? You have access to their personal photos, thoughts and opinions. Use social media as a research tool for omnichannel to learn more about your customers at large.
Omnichannel switches the focus from simply selling your product or service to matching your offering to your consumer’s wants and needs. Social media makes personalization accessible for any business. Whether you are a manufacturer in middle America making products for companies overseas or a local nonprofit in a small community, social media may be your best bet for engaging with your consumers.
Omnichannel is all about the consumer — and your social media should be, too.
Social media isn’t a magic bullet, but it’s a good place to start.
You found your consumers on social media and you researched them. Now, the data gathered from social media can be used to start the execution of your omnichannel strategy. A consumer-centric strategy includes content, too, so use social media to take note of your consumers’ behavior. When do they engage with your posts the most? What content do they like? If you’ve been successful at something, create more content based off of that, for example a case study blog.
Your consumers care about other consumers’ experiences (they are more likely to trust the content developed from experiences), so use them to create consumer-centered content.
Social media shouldn’t exist in a vacuum.
Social media can be a great tool for making the consumer’s experience seamless. Brands can use social media to respond in a timely manner, and to keep track of every question, complaint or engagement from a consumer. But, social media alone cannot accomplish a truly seamless experience—that takes a close relationship with your marketing team.
All the data collected from social media is rendered useless if it never makes it to the marketing team. Creating an omnichannel experience for your consumers’ means creating Journey Bridges.
Social platforms can’t be the only area personal and seamless interactions between consumer and brand occur. Connections between your brand and your consumers should be made between web, mobile and in-store or in-office actions. To execute this cross-platform strategy, your marketing and social media teams need to be in constant communication.
In our current digital age, omnichannel is no longer a strategy just for retailers. Social media makes all brands accessible and exchanges seamless. On social media you can reach your consumers, research them and personally engage with them. While not the only part of an omnichannel experience, social media makes an omnichannel strategy viable for any business.
Image credit: CC by Kimco Realty