As consumers have been forced to embrace change amid conditions thrust upon them by the pandemic, the ability of brands to connect seamlessly across a variety of platforms and channels is vital, especially as shopper habits, emotions and methods continue to change, writes Mike Foster, founder and creative director, Straight Forward.
Quite simply, the pandemic has accelerated the need for omnichannel marketing. While most brands have been using multi-channel marketing for years; delivering products and customer service via the retail store, the website, and interacting via Twitter, that’s no longer enough unless you’re able to make them work together in harmony. The omnichannel experience means being omnipresent across each device and platform a consumer uses to interact with the brand; knowledge which is then used to deliver an integrated experience, allowing the brand to Connect in FULL.
By some estimates, says McKinsey, the world has vaulted ten years ahead in consumer and business digital penetration in less than three months. Indeed, McKinsey data also shows that most categories have seen more than 10% growth in their online customer base during the pandemic, with many consumers planning to continue shopping online, even as physical stores reopen. E-commerce is expected to continue growing across all product categories, which makes it even more vital for companies to align their messaging, objectives and design across each channel and device as discussed in our thought piece about getting back to the basics – If you don’t tell them how will they know.
But the shift to online is not the only change to consider: new concerns such as safety, hygiene and convenience are now considered critical for instore retail, with a frictionless experience being sought by most. McKinsey says the importance of consumers being able to quickly and easily find what they’re looking for jumped by 14 percentage points from March to June. Meanwhile, with the constraints of less browse-time in-store, the stress of social distancing and the disconnect caused by mask-wearing, brands must have deep-seated foundations in place so that they can be located in the right place at the right time, to suit the new consumer.
Take the Starbucks rewards app, considered to be one of the leading omnichannel experiences. What’s different to traditional loyalty programmes is that Starbucks has made it possible to check and reload your card via phone, website, instore or on the app. Changes to the card or customer profile get updated across all channels, in real-time.
Brands that have the basics in place before attempting this leap will be well-positioned to stay on message, regardless of the channel, the strategy or the situation. Skittles is a master of this, with its roots firmly planted inconsistency, it creates immediate brand recognition with solid cues across materials and platforms – even when it strips down to black and white when giving up its rainbow for Pride.
How we can help
At Straight Forward, our breadth of client experience puts us in an ideal position to help you work through some of the issues you’ll face as you adapt your business for the new omnichannel world. Here are some points to consider:
- How to create consistency of brand design and message across platforms: are you ensuring consumers see the best of your brand everywhere they look?
- How to integrate your omnichannel approach: what are you doing to listen and understand your customers’ online and in-store behaviours?
- How to make consumers smile: what are the ways in which you can bring joy to your customers by popping up with communication before they know they need it?
How to build on what you already have: which parts of your multi-channel marketing approach can be utilised in the efforts to create a true omnichannel environment?