When Shopping Is Not Enough: Retailers Must Embrace Omnichannel

Rita Marini

Christmas has always been the most special time of the year for me. What’s not to love? A friend told me once, “It’s that time when everyone is a little nicer to each other.” I can’t disagree. And although we Singaporeans lack the excuse of having a chimney on our roof and we will never experience (real) snow in this part of the world, imported Douglas fir, colorful lights along our famous shopping belt, and gifts, lots of them, are enough to make me feel the spirit of Christmas.

Speaking of gifts, I used to spend weeks to plan and get Christmas presents. Yet despite the early planning and shopping, you would find me standing in lines on Christmas Eve.

Not anymore.

Things are much simpler today. The fact that most shopping malls, including those that are located next to each other, carry pretty much the same brands and products, I could just visit one of them and complete my rounds. Predictable. But at the same time, it’s less exciting and more challenging to get meaningful gifts. I mean, how meaningful and personalized can your gift be when you buy a $30 lotion set or 3-for-$20 tins of cookies?

So, I went to the one thing I know best. I call it my continuous development program – after all, I work for the best commerce platform provider in the world. I’m talking about online shopping.

Armed with the Internet and a credit card, I am unstoppable (OK, except by my credit card limit). Within a few clicks, I can find the latest collections and switch between categories easily to find something for different people in my shopping list. No need to queue or be stuck in a traffic!

Well, I wish I could say it’s perfect. It’s not. One downside with online shopping is I will never be certain that the size of a shirt or shoes will fit. So, what is the perfect shopping experience?

For me, it’s the best of the two worlds: omnichannel. I can browse and shortlist my shopping selections online and then visit the physical store for wearable items to see the exact goods, try them out and confirm the sizes before I make the purchase. For the rest of the items, home delivery.

Looks like I’m not the only one; we recently surveyed 1,000 consumers in Singapore to uncover their Christmas shopping habits and found that 68 percent of the consumers prefer retailers with a physical store coupled with both e-commerce and mobile app.

With high Internet and mobile penetration rates, it is little wonder that Christmas online shopping is picking up among Singaporeans. The e-commerce market in Singapore is expected to be worth US$5.4 billion (S$7.46 billion) by 2025, according to a report by Temasek and Google released earlier in May this year, and is expected to make up 6.7 per cent of all retail sales by 2025.

The survey also reveals that 33 percent of the consumers didn’t personalize gifts and 51 percent were unsatisfied with their Christmas present. How can then retailers improve shopping experience this Christmas and help us find that perfect gift every time. Here are three tips:

  1. Embrace omnichannel. Do not miss out on pleasing customers on this season of giving, by ensuring your promotions, products and services are available across channels: in-stores, online and on mobiles.
  1. Contextualize just like you would personalize your gifts. Santa knows whether you’re naughty or nice – and who doesn’t like receiving a personalized gift that rewards how good he or she has been all year round? Just like how Santa curates his list, retailers and marketers should also be looking at analyzing data real-time, contextualizing them to the individual in order to deliver the best gifting options.
  1. Your backend elves are just as important. Free shipping and on-time delivery are the top two must-haves for retailers to ensure a great Christmas shopping experience. Beyond your front end promotions, it is just as important to ensure the backend processes like inventory and billing management are integrated to deliver the smoothest shopping experience.

Get the full findings of the study through the infographic below.

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