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The Challenges of the Omni-Channel Rollercoaster

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Main Street stores still account for 90% of all retail sales, but it’s not one medium or the other. Most online sales and offline sales are intertwined. Social, Location based, and Mobile marketing (SoLoMo) are converging and continue to blur the lines between online and offline marketing.

Brick-and-mortar stores benefit from brands’ co-marketing programs. Promotions that center on SoLoMo can create the reason, the “deal,” and the location for prompting a purchase from a physical store. Mobile options allow for producing on-the-spot promotions depending on where the shopper is located.

Buying or reserving online/picking up in store is becoming commonplace among brick-and-mortar retailers. Shoppers are now provided with options of buying an item online and picking it up in the store right away, without shipping fees or delivery time, a scenario that is increasingly attractive to time-conscious consumers.

This kind of convenience allows for expansion of the store’s mission—driving traffic (and once the customer is in the store), filling the shopping cart and creating more sales. The conveniences, social media and mobile technologies that benefited Amazon and like-minded Etailers, are playing into the brick-and-mortar retail court. Stores can now focus on their SoLoMo marketing efforts that emphasize their local uniqueness rather than be concerned about competing head-on with Amazon—who, let’s face it, will NOT be going away and who experts say has the perfect ecommerce formula. Understanding and leveraging the data gleaned from these many channels can only mean more success for Main Street.

Tablets, electronic kiosks and in-store mobile targeting are further enhancing the shopping experience, providing convenience, fun and product research capabilities to customers.

Part of the speed-of-light omni-channel marketing surge that is overtaking retail is ensuring your staff is well-equipped to deal with changes that happen within your store infrastructure as well as familiarizing them with what consumers are expecting once they set foot in the store.

Retailers need to bring their staff along on this ever-changing ride and supply continuous training for team members in technology, data and consumer insights. Staff needs to be armed with tablets for accessing product information, inventory supply, feature and price comparisons and a host of other details that ensure they’re not one step behind their customers.

Customer service must rise to the occasion. Store marketers and management need to create their own omni-channel communication highway where shoppers can ask questions and have them answered on cell phones, in cars, on desktops, in kiosks, and any other mobile device they may be on. Personalizing the in-store shopping experience with customized service is vital.

To be competitive, training and getting the right people is one of the most important things a brick-and-mortar retailer can do.

Retail staffing firms have the advantage of being “in the loop” with the latest developments in marketing and merchandising and can weed out the best candidates amid a sea of resumes. A poor hiring decision can be costly, and staffing firms have the experience and background to find the right person for each position that is available in the store.

While the online experience has presented a wealth of choices and conveniences for shoppers, the majority of American consumers still prefer the social experience of shopping and buying in the store. With the convergence of SoLoMo technologies, shoppers really are gaining the upper hand and can benefit from the convenience of finding key product information they are searching for online. Combining that with the opportunity to participate in the in-store experience of seeing, touching, one-on-one staff communication, and buying, parlays into a win-win for brick-and-mortar retailers.

TAGS: retail, staffing, retail trends, omni-channel,
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