The Role of SaaS in Omnichannel Marketing
Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Role of SaaS in Omnichannel Marketing

The world is changing. Marketers have more ways than ever to reach their target audiences but often there is a disconnect between these channels. Social media presence may be inconsistent across platforms. Or the company’s website may not make an obvious connection with that social media presence. And email marketing is a different story entirely. Not to mention offline marketing channels. All that to say: These channels work in parallel, rather than in tandem.

Omnichannel Marketing Brings It Together

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Omnichannel marketing brings all of a business’ channels together. It works seamlessly so the customer experience is both smooth and customized to each individual’s needs.

Omnichannel Marketing

 

By comparison, multichannel marketing uses all the same channels as omnichannel marketing but they do not work in concert with each other.  Most marketers use this approach today, with occasional crossovers between channels. For example, a week-long influencer takeover of a business’ social media account (say, Instagram) combines influencer marketing with a social media channel. Multichannel marketing certainly works, but there are limits to its capabilities in our hyper-connected world.

Multichannel Marketing

There is no magic bullet when it comes to omnichannel marketing - every business is differentIt’s more than likely you’ve heard the word “omnichannel” thrown around a lot. What’s less likely, is that you’ve heard of strategies to implement it. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet. Every business is different, and so are the needs of its customers. However, there are a few good jumping-off points to start down the omnichannel path.

Here are a few omnichannel marketing suggestions:

  • Put the customer experience first
  • Take a data-driven approach
  • Segment your audience, then map the customer journey
  • Personalize the process
  • Offer help the right time in the right way
  • Make the payment process seamless
  • Train all employees across every level

This is by no means an exhaustive or step-by-step list. Though it does provide some key insights into some starting strategies. One thing you will absolutely need is the right software. And, unfortunately, it will likely not be a single tool. The beauty of cloud software, or SaaS (software as a service), is that certain tools can be integrated with other software types such as a CRM software to create a nearly seamless back-end experience. Multichannel retail software is a great place to start if you run an e-commerce business.

 

Read More: Are you Marketing In-Store Pickup? 

 

Uniting the Digital and the Physical Storefronts

According to a recent OrderDynamics study, almost 90 percent of the retail websites investigated provide e-commerce services, but only about 30 percent offer “click & collect” where customers can purchase online and pick up their items in-store. Options such as in-store pickup are incredibly important for creating omnichannel marketing. After all, they connect the online e-commerce sphere and the physical in-store sphere.

Omnichannel Retailing Capabilities Snapshot Graph

And, according to the same study, of the retailers offering in-store pickup services, only 38.5 percent advertise this option on their main page. That’s a potentially huge oversight. In this day and age, with so many channels available, information needs to be both widely available and obvious. There is little worse than a poorly designed or not mobile-friendly website when all you want to do is find a specific piece of information.

 

Related: Click and Collect

 

In-Store Pickup – Visibility is Key

Example of Target Shopping Options

When it comes to in-store pickup — an option that not all customers are aware of — visibility is key. It can be a huge differentiator for consumers, especially if they are not merely browsing but ready to buy. Combined with inventory visibility (which only 63 percent of retailers investigated by OrderDynamics offered), consumers can be filtered directly from the website to a storefront.

Target is currently using this strategy very well. The company advertises in-store pickup on the main page of its website. The retailer also leverages inventory visibility to encourage customers to choose a channel that works best for them, given an item’s current availability. For example, I recently moved in with a roommate and wanted to purchase a bed rest pillow so I could easily read or play games in bed. I checked Target’s website and found a pillow I liked. Then I was presented with several options to purchase the pillow.

I could order the pillow and have it shipped. Or pick it up at a nearby location. Given that I live in Chicago, there are a lot of Targets I could pick from. So I checked to see which store had it in stock and was closest to me.

Example of the different in-store pickup locations from Target

Note that the Brooklyn Bensonhurst store only has two pillows left. So if that were the closest store to me, I’d be more likely to order online and have it shipped to me. Or, if the store was on my way that day, order online and pick up in-store to ensure they didn’t run out.

According to the same OrderDynamics study as above, only 27 percent of all retailers investigated offer this type of store-level inventory visibility.  However, 67 percent of those retailers also utilize in-store pickup. Which, given my thought process when investigating the best way to purchase a pillow, makes complete sense. Being aware of the availability of the item I wanted was a big influence on my purchasing decision to buy in-store or online.

What I ended up doing was checking to see if the pillow was in stock at the store closest to my office, because I decided to make a cheesecake for a party I was throwing that weekend and needed a springform pan. I should have checked to see if they had springform pans, because they did have the pillow but no springform pans. So I purchased the pillow in-store after work and my roommate ordered the springform pan using his Amazon Prime account. The pan arrived two days later and the key lime cheesecake was a big hit.

This is a slightly convoluted example, but that’s exactly how making a purchase works sometimes. In my case, I was going to wait to purchase the pillow until my next trip to Target. However, when I knew I needed to go, I checked to see the availability. I was then able to find it in the store as I was looking for my other items. Not the most efficient method, but it did work. I purchased the pillow and a few other odds and ends that I needed while texting my roommate that I couldn’t find the pan.

But, even though my experience was somewhat complicated, the end result is that I got exactly what I wanted within a few days of needing it. I only had to visit one store. When I discovered that what I wanted wasn’t available, I was able to easily obtain it. My experience wasn’t entirely omnichannel, I didn’t interact with Target on social media or use a coupon that was emailed to me, for example, but it certainly included more channels than I typically use. And I would categorize my experience overall as good and convenient. And something I would do again if I had a specific item I knew I wanted.

Digital, Physical, and Beyond

The connection between e-commerce and physical storefronts is becoming well established.  But there is still untrod territory. Voice commerce, for instance, is a channel that is predicted to grow from $2 billion today to over $40 billion by 2022.

According to a February 2018 survey of smart speaker owners, 35 percent of respondents have used their voice to add a product to their shopping cart.   In fact, 22 percent do it regularly. With voice technology and the tools needed to make it effective improving all the time, that $38 billion increase doesn’t seem that far-fetched. If you’re looking to get your foot in the voice commerce door, voice recognition software and natural language processing software are good jumping off points.

While not as new or flashy, mobile marketing is also a constantly improving channel. According to recent reports, users in the US spend 71 percent of their digital time on mobile devices.  Users in Indonesia, however, spend 91 percent of their digital time on mobile devices. For marketers, that’s a lot of prime real estate. If mobile is not a part of your omnichannel marketing strategy, you’re losing out on a lot of your audience’s attention. 

 

Related: What is Omni-Channel Brand Intimacy? 

 

Integrate Mobile into Your Marketing Strategy

Omnichannel marketing requires a lot of complex software to work seamlesslyOne easy way to integrate mobile into your marketing strategy is to ensure that all of your websites are optimized for mobile screens. With so many people spending their time on their mobile devices, the last thing you want is a website that’s completely alienating to them. Mobile marketing software is a more in-depth solution that can help you really plan out and optimize a strategy that works for your business and your customers.

The fact of the matter is, as I mentioned in my recent retail technology article on G2 Crowd, that omnichannel marketing requires a lot of complex software to work seamlessly. Every business is different and seeks to achieve different things via omnichannel marketing. But tools such as marketing automation software and social media marketing software are good ways to start.

 

Author:

Author: Lauren FramLauren Fram is a research specialist at G2 Crowd. G2 Crowd is a crowdsourced B2B software and services review site with over 490,000 verified real-user reviews.