The Ultimate Omnichannel for your Online Business


In these exciting days of technological proliferation, many businesses have taken the multiple retail channel route: they have integrated online sales into their brick-and-mortar operations. Online retail channels include regular online sales through desktop- or laptop-optimised websites, as well as mobile sales and mobile app sales. A prime example of a brick-and-mortar store that has embraced omnichannel retail is IKEA. Not only does IKEA have 351 physical stores in 46 countries (as of December 2014), but they have a website, a mobile site, and a mobile app through which customers can browse, purchase and return items. Undoubtedly, turning omnichannel has broadened their already global reach, making shopping a convenient and pleasant experience for all, regardless of their preferred mode of shopping.

But what about businesses that have a rich online presence but do not have a physical store? Are there any benefits of opening a store? Can it boost profits? These are questions worth considering if you operate an online business, and are flirting with the idea of going brick-and-mortar.

The Benefits of Opening a Brick-and-Mortar Store

Even though industry analysts question the effectiveness of high street retail to boost company profits (due to the tendency towards the online omnichannel approach), there is still plenty of merit in opening up a physical store. According to a Tech Crunch survey, 78% of consumers still prefer to shop in-store, and claim to spend 6 times more in-store than online. This is definitely saying something!

Here are a few more reasons why you should consider opening up a physical store:

Multi-sensory experiences

People like to see and hold what they are considering purchasing. Some people like the smell of books, and prefer to leisurely browse the aisles of a book store and take their time rather than searching online. Maybe they don’t know which book they want, and want to see what jumps out at them – this is way harder to do online. Also, it goes without saying that when shopping for clothes, most people like to try on an outfit to make sure it fits and looks good before spending their money.

Under this umbrella is the growing trend of innovative and interactive technology. Canada’s Unique Solutions Design Ltd. has created the Me-Ality body-scanning stations, which are popping up in retail clothing outlets in Canada and the US. Customers who are constantly frustrated by the lack of consistent sizing across different stores can have their body scanned, and receive a unique barcode containing their measurements and a customised shopping guide. It is just a matter of time before these start appearing in stores and malls around the world. Again, this is something you will not be able to find online… yet.

Social interaction, relationship-building and personalised customer service

Humans are social creatures, and we like to interact with other people and build relationships. Although it is not impossible to build strong and lasting brand relationships with customers if you only have an online retail business (such as Etsy), nothing compares to seeing a smiling face of an employee when you are a customer. Going into a store and being greeted and waited on by an actual human can be a positive experience that can determine whether you will transition from one-time customer to returning customer.

Furthermore, a brand can provide immediate and personalised customer service in-store. Online businesses can provide terrific customer support, but again, nothing beats the immediacy of service in a physical store.

Improved logistics and lower shipping/storage costs

Some merchants are opening physical stores that are also being operated as warehouses and shipping centres for their products. One of the biggest online stores, Amazon, is doing just that. They will be located in New York City, in the same neighbourhood as Macy’s, across from the Empire State Building, and will be using their new physical store as a mini-warehouse with a small inventory for same day shipping within the city. This store will also make returns and pick-ups so much easier for local Amazon shoppers in and around the Big Apple. Other online businesses can expect some or all of the same benefits by opening up brick-and-mortar stores. Rather than returning a product via the post office, customers can go right to the physical location of their favourite webstore, and return or exchange a product easily and without the long waits.

Something to Keep in Mind

Although the thought of opening a physical store for all of the aforementioned benefits sounds exciting, you still have to keep in mind that although you may be able to increase your market share by reaching a broader customer base through the omnichannel approach, your profits can decrease due to promotional expenditures and operational and administrative costs associated with a physical store. However, with more intensive distribution of your products thanks to opening a new channel, you might see the opposite happening. If you are willing to take the risk, you may some glorious returns.

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Persuasion and the Path to Purchase

Path to Purchase Good2

As the e-commerce landscape is becoming increasingly saturated with more and more options for online shoppers, you may wonder what you can do to stay ahead of the competition. A few months ago, we had a few suggestions on how to stand out in a crowded market and how to prevent customer churn. Today, we’re offering some additional tips on how you can use centuries-old wisdom to attract and keep more customers on the path to purchase.

Aristotle for Today’s E-Commerce Business

Back in the 4th century, Aristotle wrote The Art of Rhetoric and explained the three modes of persuasion necessary for developing engaging, effective and persuasive speech. While Aristotle’s target audience were the wannabe-persuaders and philosophers of Ancient Greece, his insight is very relevant to modern day e-commerce marketing, operations and customer retention. Understanding each of these “modes of persuasion” will help you connect with your customers in a credible, emotional and logical way, and will help increase your sales.

Credibility (“ethos”)

Aristotle’s first mode of persuasion, ethos, is the credibility of your business, both the message and the management. In Aristotle’s time, if an audience were suspicious of your claims and motivation, they would not likely “buy in” to what you were saying. Similarly, if your customers are not convinced that your business is trustworthy, your website secure and your marketing message factual, then they’re not likely to purchase from you. Give your customers a reason to believe in you. If your customers believe you can deliver on your promises, then they’ll more likely purchase from you.

Ethos for your e-commerce

Tell customers who you are

While an ‘About Us’ section is important, you shouldn’t stop there. Reach out to customers in a personalised manner through social media, targeted emails and customer loyalty campaigns. Spending a little more time engaging customers one-on-one really pays off: online retailer Indochino saw a 540% jump in revenue after they started engaging with their customers with targeted personalised emails.

Explain why you’re the best

There are over 110,000 live e-commerce websites on the internet right now. With all of this choice, you need to make it clear why customers should choose you over your competition. Do you offer incredibly fast or low-cost shipping? Do you have a returns policy that beats the rest? Do you have the very best deals around? Rave about why you’re awesome and customers will take notice.

Include customer reviews

71% of customers will read a product review before buying it and 63% are more likely to buy a product if it is reviewed and rated. There’s no doubt that positive customer reviews can impact your sales, so make it easy for customers to write a review and even easier for potential buyers to read them.

Emotion (“pathos”)

The second mode, pathos, is the emotional connection you make with your customers. If you’re not aware of how buying from you makes your customers feel, then you’re not likely to have many customers at all.

Pathos for your e-commerce

Up the ‘happy’ factor

Customers need to know how your products or services will make them happier, smarter, more successful or less stressed. Don’t assume that your customers will make this connection on their own and in 15 seconds or less, the average time a buyer stays on a website. Captivate your audience as soon as they land on your homepage with clear, compelling and motivating content and branding.

Provide human customer support

Up to 60% of customers will pay more if they know they’re going to get great service. On the other hand, 89% of customers who’ve had a poor online shopping experience will never revisit that e-commerce website (and will tell all their friends about it!). Make sure your customer support team is helpful, thoughtful, empathetic and human. Love your customers and they’ll love you back.

Logic (“logos”)

The third mode, logos, is the logic behind your business. Once your customers believe that your business is trustworthy and that what (and how) you’re selling will impact their lives, making the purchase will be their next logical step. Just remember to make that path to purchase a logical and intuitive one.

When it comes to your e-commerce website, every step along the way from the landing page to the checkout page is your customer’s path to purchase. How well designed and easy to navigate your website is directly reflect how much effort, time and consideration you’ve devoted to your business and to your customers. Think about your customer’s journey so that they don’t have to think twice about buying from you.

Logos for your e-commerce

Hire a UX Developer

The raison d’être of a UX developer is to keep the customer’s experience in mind. A great looking website with great code isn’t enough – being aware of how your customers will respond to your website and how your website will lead your customers to complete the path to purchase need to be incorporate into the initial design plan, not glued on at the end.

Provide an easy-to-use payment provider and shopping cart

With as many as 74% of shopping carts being abandoned by online shoppers, it’s of the utmost importance that both your payment methods and shopping cart complement your website. Providing several payment options to customers can be advantageous but may also result in some confusion (and an increased chance of abandonment). Research both what’s available to your business and what’s preferred by your targeted audience.

Go mobile (now!)

85% of all online customers will also be mobile customers by next year and 65% of mobile shoppers prefer mobile sites to apps. While many website builders, like WordPress and Wix, incorporate responsive design into their templates, if you’re building your website from scratch, make sure that a mobile version is available. If this isn’t enough reason to go mobile, Google recently announced that it will rank mobile-friendly websites higher for searches initiated on a mobile device.

The three elements Aristotle revealed that would persuade an audience centuries ago are very much applicable today: ethos, pathos and logos. Persuade your customers to complete their purchase from you by making that path to purchase credible, emotional and logical. Oh, and mobile!

For additional conventional and unconventional articles on how to incorporate your customer’s experience at every stage of your e-commerce business, visit the DalPay Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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