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The omnichannel shopping experience – what does that mean for you and your customers?

Over the past few years, high street shops have had to close temporarily due to the pandemic so many retailers had to rethink and pivot their business models.

That contributed to a change in consumer attitudes towards spending. Our research showed they were spending less in certain categories, particularly on luxury goods (64%), clothing (60%) and home improvements (51%).1

So some adopted new features and ways of working, including implementing online chatbots, offering contactless delivery and alternative ways to pay to keep customers engaged. A well-known skin-care retailer, for example, rolled out virtual skincare consultations, which would usually take place in store for example, rolled out virtual skincare consultations, which would usually take place in store. It helped them to meet the increased demands and keep their retail staff working. Some large hair brands rolled out online hair consultations and some retailers offered online styling.

Changes like these have accelerated consumers’ usage of online and in-store shopping channels in tandem. And the reliance on the use of ecommerce has now grown into a dependence on the still-evolving omnichannel shopping experience.

As consumer expectations and attitudes evolve, should the shift towards omnichannel experience be front of mind for growing businesses?

Shifting shopping behaviours

An omnichannel refers to trading across multiple shopper platforms, which may include marketplaces, websites, and in brick-and-mortar stores.

A very common omnichannel pairing is eCommerce and a physical shop, which appears to have been enhanced with the growth of online shopping over the past few years, partially down to restrictions on movement and businesses rethinking their offering. Although, it’s not entirely pandemic-related – some say it’s easier to find products2 and for others, the convenience of it means they can shop at any time of day as opposed to in-store shopping.3 It also gives them time to compare products and prices, and when they’re ready, they can pay in just a few clicks.

But that’s not to say in-store shopping is – or will become – a thing of the past. Instead, consider how the strategic role of a physical shop has evolved. There are some aspects that are better in-store as opposed to online, including those personal touchpoints like giving advice and aftercare services.

And that shows with younger mobile shoppers, who despite being online more than any other age group, prefer a more hybrid shopping experience.2

So while the shift towards online shopping has helped to cement a place for omnichannel shopping in the retail sector, it’s just as important to note what the in-store role can play too, and how having both in place could work to your advantage.

It’s also important to review every stage of the payment journey, and to make it more effortless and intuitive wherever possible.

Richard Brassey, Head of Business Partnerships at BPF, comments: “It’s not simply about having a website and being on the high street. It’s about creating a seamlessly joined-up experience, where your customers can shop and pay effortlessly between the physical and digital realms in a convenient and intuitive way.”

Tech is changing how we shop

The shift towards digital has made it easier for some retailers to cast a much wider net when it comes to attracting shoppers. Businesses should give serious thought to how they straddle the line between in-store and online, striking the right balance between the potential volume of online sales and the benefits of a physical environment where the customer can see and touch products, creating a strong omnichannel approach that works for them and their customers.

One thing to consider is when shopping online or in store, how will your customers pay for their items? As technology evolves, consumers have plenty of options, but in the midst of that, convenience will still be valued.4

This is where an omnichannel strategy and payment solution such as retail finance could help create a seamless shopping experience for your customers.

That's why we've built capabilities that are flexible, easy to integrate and designed to support you and your customers across the end-to-end purchase journey. A straightforward, customer-focussed approach helps improve the finance application for your customers, which could help you increase conversions and avoid drop outs in the purchase journey whether you’re working in-store, online or taking an omni-channel approach.

Also, having our Remote Document Verification (RDV) built into the online application process means that your customers can send their financed purchase to an address that’s different to their billing address. It also lets you offer Click & Collect options to customers who use finance for their purchases to collect in store within a couple of hours. This allows you to make the most of both your online space and your physical store.

Giving customers options is key to the omnichannel experience

The shift towards offering an omnichannel experience focuses on providing shoppers with an integrated experience across digital and physical. But if you were to opt for an omnichannel strategy, it’s important you think about how you can use one to leverage the other. As Richard Brassey explains, it’ll enable you to strike the right balance between all your platforms:

“Think about every step of the process, from the design of your website to the layout of your stores. Look at the link between online and offline channels, as well as what payment solutions are available,and the types of customers your trying to attract to different payment methods.

“Creating a great omnichannel experience relies on giving your customer options, whether it’s the flexibility to select the channel that works for them or providing multiple options when they come to pay. Flexible payment methods like retail finance means they buy on their own terms. As we move to an era of ‘new retail’, we’re now recognising there is a need to blend the digital and in-store elements to create a seamless customer experience.” 

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The future of retail payments

Joshua Fabian Miller, Product & Proposition Director and Richard Brassey, Head of Business Partnerships, give their thoughts on key consumer trends and how the retail landscape has evolved, as well as taking an in-depth look at this year’s regulatory review and the impact it has had on the retail market. 

Get in touch

To discuss your business requirements and how Barclays can support you, contact us today.