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Omnichannel Retailing: Physical Channels need more focus

Retailers and Brands today look to provide their shoppers with an enhanced customer experience. Omnichannel retailing today is a bit of a no-brainer. A well-connected and personalized omnichannel experience is what customers love and come to expect. But for a lot of brands, omnichannel is partial towards the digital channel. Despite of the overwhelming impact of digital on customers in recent times, the physical channel deserves importance of an equal magnitude, if not more. But that’s not been the case with all retailers and brands. Predominantly, they lay more emphasis on digital than physical. Brands must understand that resorting to omnichannel means catering to both digital and physical channels. At present, there appears to be quite a gap between physical and digital engagements.


The gap between Physical and Digital

There exists a mismatch between the touchpoints that influence the customers’ purchasing decision, and the ones that marketers consider critical to their omni-channel engagement strategy. As per ‘The Responsiveness Requirement Report-2017’ by CMO Council, the role of physical channels in purchase decisions of customers is way more than marketers can imagine. Consider the following illustration.

Responsiveness Requirement

(Image Credit: The Responsiveness Requirement Report-2017, CMO Council)

The numbers above clearly indicate that marketers don’t necessarily focus on the channels that the consumers use to make purchase decisions. Physical touchpoints have a massive influence on the consumers’ purchasing decision. For example, in-store promotion (50%), in-store sales (34%), product packaging (27%) and, in-store displays (23%). The retailers’ preference towards digital is evident as 80% and 78% of them consider corporate websites and social media channels as critical to their engagement strategy, that too when it is expected to influence the purchase decision only 28% and 32% of the times respectively. There surely is a gap that is presently existent. Brands should know that merely resorting to omnichannel retailing is not enough. Proper focus should be provided to both physical and digital channels to maintain a balance. Otherwise, it’s bound to have a negative effect on the omnichannel experience that the customers get.

The lack of pace in responding to customers in Physical

Customers demand swift communication from their brands throughout their shopping journey. After all, it adds to their overall customer experience. Customers will always expect their requests to be responded to within a realistic time frame. Although marketers are doing more than a reasonable job in digital, the same cannot be said about the physical channel. Consider the following illustration.

consumer feedback responses

(Image Credit: The Responsiveness Requirement Report-2017, CMO Council)

As per the above illustration, in digital, 43% of marketers respond to consumer feedbacks and requests within 1 day in digital, 35% in 7-14 days, and 14% in a month. A mere 8% of marketers take an unlikely time of over a month to respond to customers. The pace of responsiveness of digital in comparison to that of physical is way ahead.

The pace at which marketers respond to customer queries in the physical channel is almost appalling. Less than 1% of marketers manage to respond to their marketers within 1 day. A below par 21% manage to do the same within 7-14 days. As many as 59% of the marketers require more than 30 days to respond to feedbacks and requests of their customers.

Brands and retailers can’t afford to be so ignorant towards the physical channel. Attending to customer needs and fulfilling them by maintaining a proper balance between physical and digital is the true essence of omnichannel retailing. Going ahead, they should keep this in mind.

About Shakuntala Sarkar

Shakuntala is a marketer with 15 years of experience in Marketing Strategies & Operations, Brand Communications, Customer Relationship Management and Corporate Communications. An economics graduate from St Xavier’s college, Kolkata and a IIMC she, has worked across different industries like IT & Retail, with consumer marketing in both B2B and B2C segments. Before joining Tickto, she was the Head of Customer Relationship Management at Spencer’s Retail. Prior to that, she has been a part of the Global Marketing & Communications team of Satyam Computer Services.

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