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The Importance Of Using A Multichannel Strategy For Your Business

The Importance Of Using A Multichannel Strategy For Your Business

Have you noticed the in-person shopping trend yet? Suddenly, young shoppers are once again filling the halls of local malls. Heck, try entering a Costco on the weekend lately.

As interest in in-person shopping experiences rebounds, brands are seizing the opportunity to open retail stores and cater to consumers’ renewed enthusiasm for physical shopping. And this trend extends beyond the US and into international markets, too.

What’s interesting, though, is that retail locations are evolving beyond traditional sales hubs to become showrooms that enhance top-of-funnel brand awareness. 

For instance, Beyond Yoga opened its first store during the COVID-19 pandemic—not primarily to drive sales but to offer an experiential space where customers can engage with their products firsthand. 

This strategic use of physical spaces in prime locations was the start of a broader shift in online retail strategy: Brands are not just focusing on in-store sales but are also leveraging these spaces to boost visibility and connect with consumers in meaningful ways.

Trends Impacting In-Person Commerce

Important Takeaways From This Data

Physical Retail is Necessary to Build Trust

Shoppers often seek to experience products in person to build trust before committing to a purchase. This desire for tangible interaction with products is a key reason why more brands are opening brick-and-mortar locations. 

Physical stores offer customers the opportunity to ask questions from an associate, and the ability to see, touch, and try out items, providing a level of assurance that consumers expect to get online as well.

As a result, brands are recognizing the value of complementing their online presence with physical retail spaces and vise versa to meet this consumer need and foster confidence in their offerings.

Increasing Foot Traffic with Returns is a Huge Lever

There’s no doubt about it, customers are willing to spend more with brands who offer convenient shopping (and returns!) experiences.

The proof is in the pudding: 53% of consumers are willing to pay more for convenient shopping experiences, and 76% would switch to a competitor if it offered a more convenient experience. While this data is generalized to all shopping experiences, returns play a big role in how satisfied customers are with a brand. In other words, a difficult return policy can easily deter someone away from making a purchase and choosing a competitor instead.

But you also need to protect your margins, and in 2022, online returns accounted for “approximately $212 billion,” which is 16.5% of all online sales—that’s one-sixth of all purchases!

What can you do?

Well, we know that customers prefer making a return in-store versus online, so encouraging this method of return gives you a unique opportunity to drive more revenue by increasing foot traffic to your physical store. It’s a win-win.

In-store interactions offer a distinct advantage over online returns. While online returns can be seen as a task on a to-do list, in-store returns offer a chance for engagement. 

Store associates can act as salespeople, providing a personalized experience that is harder to replicate online. This face-to-face interaction can influence customers’ decisions and encourage them to make an exchange versus getting a refund, or encourage them to purchase additional products on the spot.

Merchants Need an Easier Way to Manage In-Person Returns

We know that encouraging in-person returns gives you an opportunity to retain your revenue. So, why aren’t more businesses offering this? 

Managing returns in-store can be complex for retail representatives, especially when capturing data about the reasons for returns. If the process isn’t automated, it can be complex, leading to mistakes in managing the return and inventory.

Additionally, one challenge is restocking, as with some platforms, you can’t always select the restock location. In some cases, certain stock is kept only at specific locations or online, and it can be difficult to manage this when a customer returns an item in-store. 

Solutions to Brick-and-Mortar Marketing 

If you’re able to successfully meet the expectations of today’s shoppers by expanding into physical retail, you can drive these types of results:

  • 42% of retail executives worldwide say the most important role of physical retail as omnichannel buying evolves is to provide an in-person component to the customer experience (CX).
  • According to Shopify, solid omnichannel brands witness a 7.5% yearly decrease in cost per contact.
  • Omnichannel consumers have a 30% higher lifetime value to brands than those who purchase using only one channel.
  • Target discovered that multichannel customers spend 4 times as much as in-store customers and 10 times more than digital-only customers.

How to Unlock These Opportunities

Align In-Store and e-commerce Strategies for a Cohesive Experience

Understanding the alignment and differences between your in-store and e-commerce strategies is crucial for a successful omnichannel experience. Here are some key considerations:

  • Consistency Across Channels: Ensure that the experience customers receive online mirrors what they can expect in-store. If your website is used to drive foot traffic to physical locations, such as through a store locator page, it’s important that the transition from online to in-store is seamless. This includes providing consistent information, branding, and service quality.
  • Clear Return Policies: Returns are a critical aspect of the customer experience, and 91% of online shoppers review a return policy before making a purchase. Make sure your return policy is clearly stated and easily accessible, both online and in-store. Your policy should outline the conditions under which products can be returned and the process for doing so.
  • Empower Store Associates: Store associates play a vital role in delivering a positive in-store experience. They should be well-informed about the company’s return policy, product warranties, and any guarantees offered. Training should ensure they understand the quality standards for returned products and are equipped to handle various customer scenarios.
  • Consistent Warranty Processes: If your brand offers warranties, it’s important to have a consistent process for replacing items or addressing issues, both online and in-store. For example, a jewelry brand with a lifetime guarantee should have a clear protocol for handling replacements, ensuring that both staff and customers know what to expect.

To sum it up… No shoppers should ever walk into a brick-and-mortar location and face different rules than if they were shopping online.

Harness In-Store Data for Strategic Insights

Collecting and effectively leveraging data from in-store interactions is crucial for making informed decisions and setting strategic goals. 

But first, you have to identify the key information that is valuable to your business objectives.

One of our favorite examples (obviously) is analyzing return reasons. 

By categorizing return reasons in a way that provides meaningful insights to your product or design team, you can make data-informed improvements to your offerings. 

For instance, a customer returning jeans in-store might provide specific feedback such as “The jeans fit well on my hips but were too loose on my waist.” If you notice a pattern of similar feedback, especially for a specific size, this can be invaluable information for your design team to address in future iterations.

Whether a customer is making a return in-store or online, you want to capture the same data and display both channels consistently in a single dashboard. This way, you can capture return reasons and analyze the data to compare patterns between your various sales channels.

Loop’s analytics functionality makes it easy for retailers to understand which products are coming back most frequently, and why. Your brand can use these metrics to help you improve your omnichannel marketing strategy, ensuring that customers get an accurate picture of the products they’re considering before they purchase them, which will help you lower your future return rate.

Leverage In-Store Returns to Drive Foot Traffic, Customer Acquisition, and Upsells

Did you know that 55% of consumers still enjoy going to physical stores to touch and see products? Even if they end up buying online, their in-store experiences often affect their decisions.

We briefly mentioned this already, but by providing a seamless and convenient return experience, retailers can turn a potentially negative situation into a positive opportunity for engagement and sales. 

How it works with Loop: For customers initiating a return online, Loop automatically provides the option for a QR code for in-store drop-offs if they are within 20 miles of a store leveraging Loop Point of Sale. This not only saves merchants money on shipping and warehouse costs but also increases foot traffic in stores, creating a busier and more engaging shopping environment.

Once the customer is in-store, here’s how Loop POS plays a crucial role in transforming returns into a strategic advantage:

  • Facilitate In-Store Exchanges: Loop offers the option for in-store returns, where representatives can encourage customers to exchange items instead of opting for a refund. This approach not only retains revenue but also provides an opportunity for additional sales.
  • Expand functionality of Shopify POS: Unlike Shopify POS, which lacks the flexibility to restock items to different locations or facilitate seamless online-to-in-store returns, Loop’s point of sale app aims to bridge these gaps, enhancing the overall return experience by making it easier for both the store associate and the shopper to facilitate an exchange on the spot. With Loop POS, you can immediately restock the item to the correct location, making it available for sale again. 
  • Capture Upsell Revenue: In-store returns provide an opportunity for store associate to recommend products and help customers reengage with the brand. This means that when a customer comes in to return or exchange an item, they might end up purchasing additional products, increasing their overall spending.

Streamline Operations with Seamless Returns and ERP Integration

One of the significant advantages of using Loop is its superior integration with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. 

This connection is crucial for brands that rely heavily on their ERP for accurate accounting and inventory management. And Loop excels in handling returns more efficiently than traditional systems, offering time-saving benefits such as:

  1. Automated Order Creation: Instead of manually updating and changing existing orders, Loop creates new orders for returns and exchanges. This automation streamlines the process, reducing the risk of errors and saving valuable time.
  2. Enhanced Transaction Tracking: With Loop, stores can easily see data across online and in-store returns to make informed decisions and report holistically on your brand’s returns. This level of detail is essential for accurate accounting and inventory management.
  3. Improved Handling of Mixed Transactions: Loop POS excels at managing situations where transactions involve both online and in-store elements. By parsing out these mixed transactions more effectively, Loop provides a clearer picture of the customer journey and inventory movement.

By integrating seamlessly with ERP systems, Loop not only saves time but also ensures that retailers can maintain accurate records and make informed business decisions. 

Provide Omnichannel Communications Through the Returns Process

Just as it’s important for customers to have access to multiple marketing channels when shopping for a product, it’s important to use omnichannel methods to alert them about their progress during the returns process. 

Your returns management solution should provide functionality to offer tracking, shipping, and refund updates across a range of channels, including email, SMS, and in-app messaging. 

Shoppers should have access to real-time data showing the refund status of their return, and, if they’ve ordered an exchange, they should be able to track the new product shipment through the supply chain. 

Loop offers carrier integration, so you can send branded alerts to your customers to ensure that they’re informed about the status of their return, including packing updates and exchange shipments. It’s also deeply integrated with marketing platforms like Klaviyo and Attentive, so brands can provide transparent communication with shoppers throughout the post-purchase journey.

Proof These Solutions Work

  • Shoppers using Loop POS return to shop in-store, on average, 12 days faster than shoppers conducting online returns. (36 days vs. 48 days, a 25% reduction).
  • Loop’s brands that use POS save up to an estimated 780 hours of labor every year. That’s more than a week’s worth of full-time work every month!

Multichannel Predictions

“Omnichannel retail strategies are here to stay, and more brands must embrace an omnichannel presence as opposed to investing solely in e-commerce or in brick & mortar. 

Bolstering this strategy with diverse options for returns is the gold standard for meeting consumers where they want to begin their search for an item and where they finish their post-purchase journey. Brands with high customer retention rates offer a wide number of options from “buy online, return in store” to mail drop-off, and even ordering pickup at home of their unwanted items.

Want to learn how Loop can help?

The post The importance of using a multichannel strategy for your business appeared first on Loop Returns.

This article originally appeared on Loopreturns and is available here for further discovery.
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