Is multi-channel retail the new norm?

Multi-channel is happening everywhere, even places we don’t realize it. Vendors at your local market are multi-channel now, selling homemade fudge through their Instagram. Delivering personalization and speed, it suits the time-hungry consumers of 2019.

Despite online booming, bricks and mortar still plays a vital role in the retail world. They offer different functions; online processes are efficient and integrated but can never offer the human interaction bricks and mortar can. It looks like they are both here to stay.

Physical retail is playing catchup. Rather than operating one touchpoint, brands need to reach customers at multiple points. Integrating more than one channel into physical retail expands the brands possible reach allowing for more purchase opportunities.

Digital’s impact on physical retail

Consumers now learn their retail behaviours from e-commerce, expecting a quicker and more integrated journey from start to finish.

Now the internet has had its imprint on the physical world, there’s no going back. A 2017 study by Adyen, a leading online payments provider, found that 79% of shoppers leave stores due to long queues. Standards of delivery are also on the rise with 82% of consumers saying they are more likely to purchase from a brand which offers multiple delivery options, according to retail intelligence firm PSFK.

A seamless customer journey

Social media is seeping into the retail world; 60% of users discover products on Instagram, and 70% have used their mobile to purchase a product online. Consumers are conditioned into discovering and purchasing products through social media. To appeal to these tech-savvy shoppers, retailers need to create a streamlined journey which incorporates an integration across all channels: websites, social media and bricks and mortar locations. This enables them to influence decisions at each stage of the customer journey – from discovery to purchase.

The advantages of an online foundation

Brands that started as online-only are expanding into physical retail. They built their foundations online with technology at the forefront of their strategy. Incorporating their automations and integrations allows them to optimize the level at which they can function within physical retail. This means multi-channel is a natural step for them to take and puts them at some advantage against physical-only retail. This is why online cult beauty brand Glossier moved so successfully into bricks and mortar; it’s multi-channel by nature.

"Incorporating their automations and integrations allows them to optimize the level at which they can function within physical retail."

Some retailers are pushing the boundaries of typical multi-channel practices and targeting more unique customer pain points. Ikea and Wayfair developed an augmented reality app that can place a 3D model of their own furniture in their customers’ home. This makes it easier for customers to buy with confidence whilst also trusting and engaging with the brand.

Multi-channel is the new retail norm. It gives brands the tools to grow their reach and communicate better with their customers. Helping businesses create a streamlined customer journey from start from finish.