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Multi-Channel explained

26, Jun 2013

There’s a lot of buzz in the retail world surrounding Multi-Channel shopping, but what exactly is it?

The idea behind Multi-Channel is simple, why have a website, an app, a catalogue and a store all competing to get sales if all four are paying into the same company? In poorly managed situations what can happen is one channel becomes too competitive and closes one of the other options, limiting your brand.

So stores like Macy’s in America and John Lewis in the UK took the approach that they provide many different channels into their company, they should provide routes from one channel to the next depending on the customers’ needs at any one time.

In doing this you need to ensure that all your experiences are similar, all items are available on all platforms and all staff, whether manning a phone, watching e-mails or on a shop floor know enough about all of the stock to provide a good level of service irrespective of how the customer approaches them.

57% of all retailers now claim to have genuine multi-channel capability, meaning they have more than one method of entering the retail experience and these can be jumped between at various stages of the sale and 52% of retailers say the focus of their investments is focussed on stores, online and mobile rather than a combined 48% who are focussing on only one.

The idea is simple, allow a customer to enter the retail scenario whichever way they feel most comfortable with, allow them to browse in whatever way they are most comfortable with, allow them to pay and take delivery of the item in the way that is most comfortable for them and provide your after-purchase support in the way that is most comfortable for them.

You make the sale more about making the customer happy than about the item, the price, the specifications and the after-care packages, the customer has control over the whole experience, if they want to browse online, come in store the next day to see the items face to face and then order by phone from a catalogue and enter the address they would like it delivered to on their mobile phone, let them.

This creates a more relaxed customer who has been proven to spend more than a customer being forced down one route, even if that one route is the most convenient overall.

Take a leaf from Foxton’s estate agents in London where using comfortable chairs and tables they create a cafe feeling in their stores, allowing customers to sit, chat and mull over their decision with a drink and their friends or family.

Other early adopters include Marks and Spencer, who have rolled out large touch screens, shaped like large iPhones out in stores and have placed them onto mounts.

The system allows customers to look through catalogues, browse products as well as making payments and entering delivery information into the screen in a “queue jump” style system.

But can this be advanced? We think so, by incorporating our products, KioCube and KioPro, the cafe experience can be achieved with the online presence of the shop coming in store as well.

Allowing customers to browse your catalogue with through glass touch screen table technology will create a relaxed cafe feel to their decision making, allowing them to be happier with their purchasing decisions whilst giving them somewhere to put their coffee as they decide.