This article was originally published on TotalRetail.

In today’s shopping environment, consumer habits change by the day. One day shoppers may browse social media for a particular product, and the next, they browse different websites for the same product. Consumer behavior was already shifting towards digital before the coronavirus crisis.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic, with its stay-at-home orders, has taught even the most change-resistant consumers to venture into online shopping for hand sanitizers, toilet papers, OTC medications and food. According to research from Salesforce, digital spending on essential goods, such as food and personal care items, increased by 200 percent from March 10 to March 20 of this year. Mom-and-pop stores, midsize retail businesses and, increasingly, retail and CPG giants are finding their way to building or extending online presence quickly. Why? The coronavirus crisis has essentially changed the way many consumers shop. This new behavior is a catalyst that drives more and more retailers to focus on digital channels. No wonder we're seeing upward trending growth in online retail/e-commerce and direct-to-consumer services. Restaurant delivery services, for example, have increased 31 percent, according to a recent survey by Statista.

 

If retailers want to succeed in digital commerce, they must keep up with channels consumers use by embracing an omnichannel approach — or a one-to-one customer experience across all channels and devices. Whether consumers use mobile or desktop, or browse social media or a brand’s website, an omnichannel approach allows retailers of all sizes and in multiple markets to deliver a consistent and relatable brand experience to every consumer.

 

They should consider where their customers live and potential economic situations before delivering a personalized message. How can retailers balance an omnichannel approach while implementing a personalized message? We’re glad you asked.

 

Why invest in an omnichannel approach? The engagement lift on personalized ads through an omnichannel approach is 4.3 times higher than the industry benchmark — i.e., consumers are more likely to engage with brands when the content is personalized across channels they frequently visit. When brands invest in the proper tools to personalize the experience, they’re more likely to see a boost in customer satisfaction and loyalty.

 

While some brands have mastered an omnichannel approach, they still lag in the personalization aspect. Today’s consumers won’t stand for a one-size-fits-all message. When retailers marry the two — an omnichannel personalization approach — they deliver an integrated customer experience to consumers across all channels. In doing so, retailers can customize the message based on when the consumer is in market with factors like the time of day or their location’s weather forecast.

 

Still, many retailers struggle to integrate a successful omnichannel personalization approach. According to Gartner, 74 percent of marketing leaders struggle to scale their personalization efforts. Why is it so challenging to personalize messaging, and how can retailers overcome this challenge to increase conversions? There are three essential factors digital marketers should consider:

  1. Changing consumer behavior: The consumer purchasing process is constantly evolving across multiple channels. For example, consumers look at recommendations from a friend in one channel; they research in another channel; and they purchase in an entirely different channel. Research shows that when brands engage with consumers in multiple channels, they made purchases more often.
  2. Siloed marketing teams: Marketing teams work in silos between email, social media, search and marketing. In other instances, digital advertising is outsourced to agencies, and marketing functions are retained in-house.
  3. Multiple platforms: With multiple marketing and advertising platforms, it’s challenging for marketers to get a single view of a customer throughout their journey.

An example of a successful omnichannel personalization strategy comes from a large sporting equipment company. It used an omnichannel personalization approach across display, native, video and social ads to drive consumer engagement. The brand customized which products it delivered to consumers based on the weather of their current location. Consumers in cold, snowy locations received a different product recommendations than consumers in warmer climates. As a result, the campaign performed three times better than the industry average.

 

Now more than ever, it's essential retailers consider an omnichannel approach as part of their marketing strategy. What one customer is experiencing in China — from weather to economic status — differs from what a customer is experiencing in the U.S. A one-size-fits-all approach risks losing customers and can come across as tone deaf to today’s economic situation. By integrating an omnichannel personalization strategy, retailers can optimize the customer experience in a timely way while keeping the current world environment top of mind.

 

By Diaz Nesamoney | October 14th, 2020