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4 Strategies for Maximum Omnichannel Success

Macy's, a brand name virtually everyone in America has heard of, no longer refers to itself as a department store. The company called itself an "omnichannel retail organization" in its 2013 annual report. The 155-year-old company is one of the oldest on the block, and apparently one of the smartest.

A November 2013 report by MIT Technology Review identified the omnichannel consumer as the principal segment of shoppers both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce firms must address to stay ahead of the curve. These individuals will hop from their smartphones to their tablets, and then to the car so they can drive to see the product at a store, repeating the process until they make a purchase. Retailers who make the extra effort to accommodate this shopping trend will see tangible results on their balance sheets. Here are four pieces of advice for companies of all sizes.

Live Support

64 percent of customers expect real-time assistance regardless of shopping channel, according to a 2013 survey by consulting firm Loudhouse. Further, a 2013 IBM survey of 26,000 shoppers identified only 6 percent of the online shopping populous as "showroomers," a synonym for omnichannel shoppers. These individuals account for nearly 50 percent of all online purchases.

Companies that incorporate live online customer service have the opportunity to close hot leads and increase overall conversion rates. Customers can be greeted by a chat box whenever they visit your website. Olark is an option that is compatible with WordPress sites, along with Zendesk and SalesForce platforms. Zopim, Moxie Soft, and JivoSite are some others you can compare and determine which is right for your company.

All-For-One

Market research firm Gleanster found in a 2012 survey that 60 percent of marketing executives support the use of separate mobile and desktop websites. That same 60 percent are setting themselves up for failure in the future. When consumers experience inconsistent platforms from one device to the next, it increases the chance they will simply go elsewhere.

WordPress, Joomla, and Plone websites can easily be web-optimized by installing the required plugins. If you use a platform other than the aforementioned, you can do it yourself by learning a little CSS and HTML. There are paid services like bMobilized, and you can even consider the Google GoMo Initiative.

Payment Parody

67 percent of cardholders use their accounts for at least one recurring payment each month, according to a study commissioned by MasterCard. When asked why they prefer paying this way, 57 percent said convenience.

Companies that offer goods and services that are regularly purchased must offer customers a way to remain loyal without putting forth extra effort. Chargify offers services that allow businesses to set customers up for regular payment schedules, and the system automatically sends notification emails to customers with expired cards or failed payments.

Another phenomenon that cannot be ignored is Bitcoin. Dish Network and Dell are the latest large, mainstream companies that accept the cryptocurrency for payment. More than 30,000 businesses and non-profits around the globe currently accept Bitcoin through BitPay alone, one of the more popular merchant solutions.

At the very least, your company should have an active Bitcoin wallet and note that you accept Bitcoin in the checkout process. Give customers the option to contact you to pay with Bitcoin or use a processing service like the aforementioned BitPay, Coinkite, CoinBox, or Polycoin.

Old Fashioned Customer Service

RightNow Technologies, a CRM platform, found in its 2010 Customer Experience Impact Report that 82 percent of consumers stop doing business with a company after one bad customer service experience. The survey also found that 80 percent tell friends and family about the experience, and talk about it on social media.

The cheapest and easiest way to gain and keep customers is by making their experience a good one. No matter what Chick-fil-A location you visit, you'll be looked at in the eye by a smiling cashier. Employees will also visit the dining room and refill patrons empty drink cups. Because of the restaurant's dedication to customer service, it was named to the 2014 24/7 Wall St. Customer Service Hall of Fame.

If you're business is primarily an online enterprise, answer emails as quickly, politely, and completely as possible. First contact resolution, along with sincere apologies and acknowledgement of the issues ensures happy and repeat customers.

Companies that fail to address the trends of omnichannel consumerism are leaving a lot of money on the table. A seamless customer experience equals higher profits and loyalty to your brand.

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