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Comment: Maximising multi-channel

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It has recently been announced that Amazon plans to build an in-store point of sale (POS) system to offer to its merchants. However, while the internet giant enters the physical world of retail, those choosing to focus on their existing online channels should be taking time to optimise checkout processes across multiple platforms, or fail to market to the modern consumer. Through integrating back office functions, in-store EPoS and ecommerce operations through one system, retailers can fully realise the value of the investment they have made having a physical store and knowledgeable staff.

Like any consumer interaction, the key is to streamline the steps and barriers to purchase. This seems like a simple point but many continue to overlook the solutions available to overcome these issues, instead choosing to rely on consumer persistence to convert the sale. Too often, customers are presented with complicated registration, payment and shipping forms. These are a burden to complete on a desktop computer, but near impossible to fill in when using mobile touchscreens.

Similarly, while multichannel brings the potential to tap into new markets, I’m always surprised by how many retailers fail to take into account the various differences in name and addressing conventions used all over the world. With over 240 countries sharing a diverse variety of languages, alphabets and addressing formats, providing a personal experience for each and every customer is no easy task.

It is therefore not surprising that with all the different languages and address formats, so many businesses adopt a simple one size fits all approach. Unfortunately however this approach all too often discourages customers buying from your site. As a UK resident, a personal frustration of mine is being forced into selecting from a drop down list of US states. This is an unnecessary question, which not only confuses the customer, but also lengthens the checkout process obstructing them from making that all important purchase.

Attempting to organise international address data for global customers onto forms that weren’t purpose built to suit the different requirements of specific countries is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. So if you are thinking of branching out globally, you should be bending over backwards to make the registration as quick and painless as possible. In reality most web forms make customers jump through hoops just to fill them in. Changing these defaults requires thought and an initial cost to create, but it saves enormously on data cleansing, lost customers, revenues and more importantly a lost reputation further down the line.

Success in multichannel happens when retailers take their time to learn what it is their customers want before offering it to them and shaping the customer experience accordingly. To truly succeed in multi-channel, a retailer’s brand, products, pricing, promotions, service and delivery proposition needs to be presented consistently in the different channels both on and offline. Consistency is vital for this experience to be a stress-free regardless of whether that’s in a shop, from a PC or through mobile. By using a common address validation system across all these channels, the cost of ownership is reduced and administrative processes are simplified.

Published on Monday 23 June by Editorial Assistant
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