There is a wealth of marketing research that shows that a robust buying experience goes farther than any other marketing modality in creating positive consumer purchasing behaviors. The current theories indicate that consumer loyalty and buying decisions begin long before the retailer is identified. In addition, the after experience of a purchase is just as important as the product quality. All of these components become part of a comprehensive retail experience.
Omnichannel Retailing and Seamless Shopping
Omnichannel marketing is the next evolution of multichannel marketing. It identifies a larger and more all-encompassing network of experiences that contribute to the consumer’s purchasing process. Unlike multichannel, omnichannel recognizes the dual directionality of today’s decision-making process. Consumers recognize a need, see a solution via social networks and then launch a discussion using these same networks. All of this is happening outside of the company’s advertising efforts.
In the last few years, Bed Bath & Beyond has recognized the need to wrap its marketing channels into a larger Internet network. Like most brick-and-mortar businesses, Bed Bath & Beyond earns less than 2 percent of its revenue with online sales, according to Forbes. Yet, consumers use omnichannel, online discussions to make nearly all of their new product buying decisions. This also applies to sales shopping and selection decisions between highly competitive brands.
Relationship Marketing and Purchasing Platforms
Hand-in-hand with omnichannel marketing is relationship marketing theory. This tells retailers to create processes in which the relationship with the client, loyalty between the consumer and the business, and brand value are built in. Under relationship marketing theory, a business should ask, “What does the customer need?” The answers should be finding a good product or service and having a simple way to pay for it.
As part of the global omnichannel, a purchasing platform must be integrated into the experience. According to Sage, businesses are seeing the need to incorporate payment platforms into the total consumer experience. This includes multiple ways of paying, the ability to pay at different times and places, and the capability to interact socially around the purchase.
Gamification and the RFID Experience
A simple rule of thumb for most businesses is that the consumer’s experience should be pleasant and fun. The Internet has created a small world with many social interactions, and consumers are becoming accustomed to this way of being. Researchers writing for the International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management found that creating a game-like atmosphere enhances the consumer’s experience and customer loyalty. Likewise, RFID technology and geolocation advertising make for a fun purchasing process. Being able to see a house that is for sale or virtually tour a vacation destination is an entertaining way to develop brand recognition.
Ultimately, it is the retailer’s job to make the buying decision a good one that lasts long after the purchase is made. The Internet has given companies the opportunity to interact with consumers in a fun, multidirectional dialogue that humanizes the business and develops enduring relationships.