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Comment: how effective is your multichannel strategy?

The UK is home to the world’s biggest online spenders. British shoppers spent £91 billion online in 2013*, a figure that’s expected to break through the £10 billion barrier in 2014. The opportunities for businesses from all sectors are huge.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Comment: how effective is your multichannel strategy?

Ahead of the Internet Retailing Expo, ecommerce expert, Ian Jindal, summarises key areas of focus for those looking to drive online and multichannel sales.

1. Enhance the online customer experience and journey
Focus on the customer's experience at every stage and touch point. Do not rely on your understanding of a 'perfect buying journey', but rather the customers' real, complicated and multi device contacts. While the reality may be messier than we'd like, we still have to be at our best at every stage, on their mobile, tablet or laptop. Successful multichannel brands start by learning from the customer. Marks & Spencer for example spent two years learning what its customers wanted before launching its new website.

2. Internationalise your online activity
An ecommerce website can be a relatively cheap and highly effective way to sell overseas, whether that’s cross border within Europe or further afield in new emerging markets. Easy steps to take towards international ecommerce include adding international delivery and payment options – fashion retailer Joules, for example, recently added payment on invoice and bank to bank transfer options, popular in Germany, to its website in that country. Find out which markets are key to your business by keeping an eye on analytics and learning where visitors and sales come from.

3. Prepare to go mobile
By 2016, 61% of web traffic will be driven by mobile and with the evolution of smartphones, tablets and other handheld devices, your current customers, and your potential ones, are never far away. The big retailers are already gearing up for this: House of Fraser recently launched its mobile-first website that has been designed first for viewing from mobile and touch devices, and second from desktop and laptop in recognition of the growing importance of mobile devices in the online retail cycle.

4. Develop your operations and logistics systems
Some 46% of shoppers abandon their order due to delivery concerns. When orders start to take off, it’s important that solid logistics underpin your operations. Returns or cancellation policies should be built efficiently whilst ensuring customer satisfaction and providing ROI. Most customers want progress updates after purchase: are you providing that? With the evolution of delivery options including click and collect and pick up and drop off, the benefits are clear.

Make sure your digital sales and marketing plan is effective
Building a successful multichannel sales and marketing strategy is the key to ecommerce sales growth and success. Ensure your email strategy drives sales and that you measure the ROI on email campaigns. Social media can be key to digital strategy: make sure your messages are consistent across all channels, are tailored to specific audiences and remember to measure, test and learn.

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