by David Ham | July 25, 2017
An effective omnichannel strategy gives customers confidence that online information matches the in-store experience.
Recently I was introduced to the “CR-123a” battery when two devices at home, a smoke detector and a home-security system panel, both started chirping because their batteries were low. I had no idea what these specialty batteries would cost me, but when I went online, I realized they had become common. A local specialty store had a six-pack available on their website for $19.99. I needed four (two per device) so that would work out well.
Since I was going to be near their store for another errand, I decided to stop and buy them that same day, as opposed to ordering them online and waiting for delivery (I have heard that functioning smoke detectors are important.) When I arrived at the store, I was greeted by the manager who offered to help me. So far, so good. After I told him what I needed, he offered me a two-pack of CR-123a batteries for $9.99. At that price, I could buy four in-store for the price of six online. Not so good. He explained that he carried a different brand and that is what he charges.
Being a savvy shopper carrying a smart phone, I pulled up the mobile website for a national department/discount store chain that has a store I would drive past on the way home, so it wouldn’t be a big inconvenience to buy there. I typed “CR-123a battery” into the search field and it showed me a pair of batteries—the same brand as the store I’m in—for $6.99 a pair. Perfect. Problem solved. I shared that news with the manager at the specialty store and left for the discount store after he didn’t offer the hoped-for price match.
It’s difficult for associates to create a differentiated in-store customer experience when the information they communicate contradicts what the customer found online about brand availability or pricing.
I arrived at the discount store, went to the electronics department, found the batteries I was looking for . . . and they were $9.99 for the pair. Knowing this store has a price match policy, I went back to their mobile site. It turned out that they didn’t sell CR-123a batteries on their site; what they had shown on their site was the most similar battery. Similar, yes, but not what I needed. Note to retailers: when a customer is looking for a battery, that is something very specific. Similar doesn’t cut it. At that point, however, I just wanted to be done with it and bought two pairs of the batteries.
The business press is full of stories about retail store closings. Gymboree recently announced plans to close 350 stores. Payless ShoeSource said in April it would close around 400 stores. JC Penney, Sears, and Macy’s are closing stores. And speaking of specialty electronics, Radio Shack has gone from over 7,000 stores to about 70 remaining stores.
In a recent blog post, I spoke of “The Power of People” in creating a differentiated customer experience in service (including retail) environments. Another critical factor in building customer loyalty is having an omnichannel strategy that allows customers, and potential customers, to have confidence that the information received online sets proper expectations for what will happen in-store.
It’s not new news to say that consumers seek information online before going to a store for a wide variety and large share of purchases. However, many retailers still struggle with finding the consistency in quality between online and in-store experiences. It’s difficult for associates to create a differentiated in-store customer experience when the information they communicate contradicts what the customer found online about brand availability or pricing.
CFI Group has the experience and expertise to help you understand where your customers’ online and brick-and-mortar are – and are not – consistently being met. For more information, check out the latest industry report from Radial and CFI Group on “What Makes an Online Customer a Repeat Customer?”