Omnichannel retail: from fear to certainty in just 4 steps

How to combine physical stores with your online store? This is the kind of question that keeps many a retailer awake at night, but the answer is very difficult to find on your own. So how to go about this smartly? We explain this below in 4 steps.

Stap 1: Who are my offline and online customers?

Start by drawing up the most comprehensive customer profile possible. Use data from the customer loyalty card, click behaviour on the website, usage statistics of the customer’s smartphone or responsive marketing. It is crucial that you distinguish between your "digital" and "non-digital" customers. You’ll find that a shop closure has a much greater impact on your “non-digital” customers because they are not used to doing their shopping online. Determining factors for the digital/non-digital ratio are wealth, age and urbanisation.

"Whatever you do, do not close shops solely based on turnover figures.

Try to understand how long it takes digital customers to get to your physical shops. Investing in ‘clicks’ often leads to more online customers in the secondary catchment areas of the physical shops (the so-called halo effect). You’ll often need a little more time and marketing to reach consumers in the more remote, tertiary catchment area and convince them to buy your goods or services online. They don’t have a sufficient awareness of your brand here. Or they feel uncomfortable because of the lack of nearby shops that can after-sales service provide service when they make an online purchase

Step 2: Which branches can I close without running a major risk of losing customers?

Investing in clicks often means closing bricks. A frequently-made error in this process is to solely focus on the turnover of your physical stores. Don’t do this! Because you run the risk of losing your most precious commodity, i.e., your customers!

Instead take a closer look at the theoretical recovery potential of your branches: which ones can you close without running a risk of losing customers? Make sure to close shops with a lot of recovery potential for your remaining physical stores and your online store: you will probably be able to migrate your “digital” customers much more easily to online.

“Previously all you needed as a retailer was gut instinct. An omnichannel approach means retailers must increasingly adopt a model-based approach

Advanced gravity models enable you to calculate this recovery potential. This ensures you make choices that guarantee maximum customer retention! 

Then use the right resources at the right time in the right place to migrate your “non-digital” customers to another nearby shop. Remember, customers who think your shop is too far can always rely on your online store.


Step 3: How do I limit the loss of customers after closing a shop?

Who are the customers that I should retain in my physical channel and which customers should I start teasing to convince them to shop in my online store? In 2019, directing segmented marketing and communication at your existing customers offers so many opportunities: you must strive to keep your most loyal customers onboard.

“You must absolutely keep your most loyal customers onboard”

Be especially creative when it comes to brand visibility and don’t be afraid of new experiments. Literally show your customers that you haven’t forgotten about them. A good example are the click-and-collect points and the unstaffed bank branches (with a very limited service nonetheless) which are popping up everywhere.

Step 4: From insights to an optimal omnichannel retail network

Did you close a shop and did you do everything you could to limit the loss of customers? Then you will have gained a lot of new insights and information. You can determine the power of your new, omnichannel strategy and gain an insight into your optimal network footprint: how many shops in which locations do I need to provide optimal service to my customers?

The more often you repeat this process, the closer you will get to developing your optimal retail network. You can make decisions with increasingly greater certainty.

No more worrying about what the future has in store for you, thanks to a stable and future-proof omnichannel retail network. Who doesn’t want this?

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