What Does a Seamless Omnichannel Experience Look Like in 2020?
COVID-19 has dramatically shaped consumer behaviors and as a result, brands must quickly adapt if they want to survive post-pandemic. As businesses reopen, one thing remains clear: an omnichannel experience will remain key in preparing every brand to be successful during this time. An optimized omnichannel strategy will give brands the ability to adapt to consumers’ changing expectations by enabling a seamless customer care experience from search to post-purchase on all touchpoints.
What Does an Omnichannel Experience Look Like in 2020?
COVID-19 changed the face of what an omnichannel strategy looks like – in 2020 and for many years to come. Shelter-in-place orders forced businesses whose main source of revenue depended on in-store traffic to adopt an omnichannel strategy. This has led to many complications for businesses and customers alike. On the business side, many businesses are having trouble with order fulfillment, inventory management, and payment method options. These inefficiencies have made consumers frustrated with the inability to receive a seamless shopping experience. As a result, brands who were unable to pivot their in-store strategy to a successful omnichannel strategy have lost valuable customers and revenue, in a time when they need it the most. Brands must adopt an omnichannel approach if they want to retain and attract customers throughout the customer lifecycle.
In today’s world, consumers are looking for products and services through their phone, car navigation, computer, voice assistant, and more. An omnichannel experience gives customers the ability to find exactly what they’re looking for, through whichever channel they choose. This includes delivering great customer service on all touchpoints, whether it’s through social media, chatbots, email, reviews, the phone, in-person, or any other way a customer may reach out for customer service.
A seamless omnichannel experience in 2020 means businesses have to rethink the customer journey to ensure that they’re reaching all customer touchpoints. Brands such as Target and Nike invested in their omnichannel strategy early on prior to COVID-19 – foreseeing the value it brings into positively shaping the customer experience. These early adopters did so by integrating popular services such as Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPUS), mobile apps, and easily accessible customer service features. These services resonated strongly with consumers, with 70% of U.S. consumers using BOPUS as part of their shopping experience. When the outbreak of COVID-19 occurred, several industries raced to introduce omnichannel services such as curbside pickup, online ordering, and more to continuously meet consumer demands.
Having a framework for omnichannel marketing will help your brand overcome any challenges you may have experienced from the pandemic and achieve post-pandemic success. The strategies below are a safe and efficient way to retain customers while preventing the spread of COVID-19.
#1 – Leverage Local SEO to Convey Accurate Information & Reach Customers
An optimized local SEO strategy is the foundation for a seamless omnichannel experience. It enables brand discovery at the start of the consumer’s shopping journey. By updating listings, leveraging local pages, and optimizing for voice search, your brand can give consumers a seamless start to their online to in-store experience.
It’s imperative that your business has accurate information across all tier 1 directories such as Google My Business, Bing, and Yelp – especially in the age of COVID-19. Consumers are facing many difficulties when searching for accurate business information, resulting in growing frustrations and consumer distrust. As a business, the last thing you want is to drive customers away because you failed to update your business hours or communicate what services are open. Whether or not your business is open, has limited hours, or is temporarily closed, it should be a goal to update your listings to reflect these changes. Maintaining NAPWCHD consistency across all business listings will give consumers who are using multiple channels the right answers quickly. Google My Business has implemented new features to help consumers gain a better insight into services you’re providing and whether customers are able to enter your store during this time.
72% of consumers that perform a local search visit a store within 5 miles of their location. The vast majority of consumers are searching for information with local intent. Connecting your brand to these local, purchase-ready consumers can be done simply by building local pages. Local pages will give consumers access to important location-specific information such as business information and special attributes. In addition, local pages can draw in these purchase-ready consumers with readily available information on product and service offerings, social media, and other services your business offers. Since guidelines revolving around which businesses can reopen are dependent on each state and city, local pages offer brands a solution to convey accurate business information for every storefront.
Another key element of your brand’s effort to refining your local SEO strategy is the implementation of a voice search strategy. Voice assistants had already become widely adopted by consumers looking for local products and services prior to COVID-19. COVID-19 rapidly sped up voice assistant adoption as it quickly served as a convenient solution to help consumers find what they need all while staying hands-free. Brands who focus on building a strong Voice Engine Optimization (VEO) strategy will be able to effectively reach consumers who switch to more voice-based searches. This means businesses need to optimize their voice search strategy in order to rank high for voice search queries. Focus on long tail keywords to address the longer search queries consumers use with voice assistants. These conversational search phrases can also be addressed with FAQ pages on your website. Optimizing your local SEO strategy with these tips will directly improve search rankings, increasing the likelihood of consumers choosing your business against your competitors.
#2 – Invest in Contactless Technology
Contactless technology will be the driving force behind helping your business survive throughout the pandemic. The in-store experience looks extremely different in the age of COVID-19 and will continue to be different, in response to future consumer behaviors. Large brands such as Burger King and Chick-Fil-A are limiting means of human contact by implementing contactless payment options through mobile apps. Other brands are going cashless by leveraging existing services such as Venmo and Square, leading to increased number of contactless payments in other parts of the world. No matter what industry you’re in, your brand should consider leveraging these below omnichannel services to help your business grow during and post-pandemic:
- Curbside Pickup
- No-Contact Delivery
- Mobile App
- Location Pages
- Online Ordering
- Virtual Product Experiences & Tours
- Contactless Payment Services (Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo)
Businesses need to leverage these alternative payment options as we continue to move towards a cashless society. Cashless payment options are now one of the largest deciding factors for consumers when choosing where to take their business. A seamless omnichannel experience gives consumers access to easily choose from these alternate services, whether it’s through curbside pickup, mobile app payments, Venmo, or online ordering. Showing consumers your brand has taken the time and effort to implement these alternative options will give them trust in taking their business to you. Touchless payment and omnichannel payment services should be included as attributes on all of your business listings, social media, local pages, website content, and emails to inform customers the steps your brand has taken to continue business safely.
#3 – Build a Consumer-Centric Experience with Reputation Management
Now is more important than ever for your brand to connect with customers through reputation management. Reviews and social media are crucial components of a successful omnichannel experience. Through reputation management, your brand can provide a consistent customer care experience to customers and prospective customers alike.. No matter where each consumer is in the customer lifecycle, review responding and social media communication will help you meet consumer demands for an elevated customer care experience.
93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. Reviews are one of the earliest touchpoints in the customer journey process and play a large role in forming a consumer’s purchasing decision. In the age of COVID-19, it’s especially important for brands to look to customer reviews for insight. Review monitoring and responding during this time is one of the most insightful ways to ensure your business’s operational changes are going over smoothly with customers.
Social media is where many people are spending more time online lately – and where they’re expecting brands to provide the most recent updates and product information. Your business should prepare to increase communication and provide customer service through all social platforms to provide customers with answers before they ask. This is also one of the most important times to reach local consumers by creating localized social content, especially given the fact that store reopenings are varying by state, city, and county. This will help your brand appeal to consumers who will choose to purchase your products and services in ways they feel safe.
Consumers spending time online also are making more purchases through social platforms. Purchases made on social media rose 84.7% year over year during March and April, highlighting the strong buyer intent that exists even throughout this pandemic. Social media represents a unique opportunity of revenue for businesses during this time period, so it’s important brands invest in their social media management strategy wisely.
A seamless omnichannel experience may seem tedious, but it’s necessary for post pandemic success. These strategies can help set up your brand for success and connect consumers to your brand from search to purchase. Whether it’s review management, local SEO, or social media management, our Chatmeter experts can help your brand create an optimized omnichannel strategy and attract customers.