Not all apps are created equal. Nor are all sales channels. Omnichannel interaction with customers should be part of your company’s digital transformation efforts, creating touchpoints at the intersections between customer wants and needs and your company’s products and services.
But a single app or single approach simply won’t work, for several reasons. First, there are the wide technical differences among an app designed for an Android smartphone, an iPhone, a tablet or a laptop, not even considering the differences among devices on each platform. Then think about user preferences among your customers. Some likely are adept app users who know what they want and how to get there. Others, however, aren’t as intuitive and need more help.
You also need to think about the impact of a new sales or distribution channel on the others you already use. How is one different from the others? Will they compete?
From a business perspective, omnichannel customer interaction builds efficiencies, creates opportunities and improves the customer experience by reducing friction between touchpoints. But like any other digital transformation project, implementation is key.
Despite the attention being paid to online sales, upwards of 90% of all retail sales still occur in physical stores. And according to a Pew Research study, 65% of online shoppers say they prefer to buy in brick-and-mortar locations when possible.
A McKinsey report on omnichannel customer experience notes that “companies that are most successful in making the digital and omnichannel transition concentrate on a long, prioritized list of pragmatic initiatives that, as they are implemented, unleash the value trapped in the intersections among poorly coordinated channels.”
Here are four ways to approach omnichannel marketing in a pragmatic fashion:
1. Know your customers. Who are your biggest customers in terms of sales volume, impact (or potential impact) on your business? You should be spending a majority of your efforts on creating apps for those specific groups.
2. Consider personas. You may be thinking, “I already know my customers. Why do I need personas?” Creating personas helps everyone in the organization, particularly sales and IT, understand customers at an organic level. This level of knowledge will not only help app development, it should help your sales staff better understand your customers, their needs, their challenges and their potential objections to your goods or services.
3. Understand the nuances of platform. The Apple OS is different from Android, and any apps you develop should exploit those differences to improve the customer experience. A one-size-fits-all app is likely to frustrate a significant percentage of your customer base if they cannot interact in the ways they want.
4. Avoid cannibalizing other sales avenues. Don’t create an app without a specific sales/marketing/development objective. Before embarking on development, determine where an app will fit among your other customer touchpoints and explore the potential impacts—positive and negative. Again, focus on those intersections between customer touches. Sometimes, the best answer is to do nothing or to explore further.
The idea of digital transformation has moved squarely into the IT mainstream. But don’t embark on an omnichannel journey without a firm grasp of where you’re going and how you plan on getting there.