What does multichannel look like in a post-pandemic economy?
There has never been a one-size-fits-all approach to multichannel. It starts with a holistic picture of your own customer journey and continues with strategies tailored to the platforms that make the most sense for your business. As the pandemic pushes people to spend more time online, they are searching more often, in ways both new and familiar. As their intent changes, so should your ability to cater to these needs. In this piece, we’ll look at a few ways brands have enhanced their storytelling, products, or services to add value to their customers’ new normal. By the end, you’ll have three takeaways to help push your multichannel strategies forward—or pivot them—into the post-pandemic economy.
Tip #1: Don’t be everywhere, be wherever it makes sense.
Despite its evolution and COVID-inspired setbacks, one unifying theme of multichannel remains: meet your audience where they are. It’s easy for brands to flock to the newest and most buzzworthy channels (*cough* TikTok), but today, it’s too risky to cast a wide net in hopes of reaching a wider audience. Instead, you need to fish where the fish are. Your strategy should focus on where your audience is spending their time searching, and also why they are searching. By focusing on the root of customer decision-making, you can pinpoint the most effective ways to connect with potential customers.
Companies like Le Creuset have found new ways to create meaningful relationships with their audiences in places that make sense for their businesses. Le Creuset's latest eCommerce platform taps beyond the where and into the why. According to new data from Digital Commerce 360, “36% of consumers shop online weekly since the rise of COVID-19, up from 28% pre-pandemic.” Le Creuset recognized that more people are cooking for themselves during the pandemic, so they used this as an opportunity to offer up recipes, gift ideas, and the added ability to browse by color rather than product alone. By aiding discovery and adding more useful ways to engage beyond the sale, they are brewing more sustainable relationships with their customers online.
Tip #2: Build your online presence from the inside, out.
No matter where you end up meeting your customer along their journey, you have to do more than simply wave hello. You must consistently follow up and find meaningful ways to engage—especially virtually. Employees aren’t always at the register anymore, so how do you sustain that relationship while capturing them during the moments it matters most? You have to look inward at your own sites and mobile experiences.
Take a look at KFC. In 2019, it introduced online ordering to KFC.com to get ahead of the rising popularity of fast-food delivery. Even before COVID, its digital infrastructure was well-equipped to handle the demand that 2020 would bring. And when COVID closed the doors of nearly 4,660 locations, the KFC team found a few innovative ways to spice up their online presence. Alongside the ease of curbside pickup, they created new contactless delivery partnerships with Doordash and the like—making an already quick-and-easy process even more seamless when safety became a necessity. Back in April, CEO of KFC’s parent company Yum! Brands called out that “40% of KFCs online orders were coming directly from KFC.com.” With the ability to pivot their platform, the very site they launched to boost online ordering in 2019 quickly became a main source of revenue in 2020. It’s also worth noting that they temporarily pulled their long-standing slogan “It's Finger Lickin' Good” in an effort to stay sensitive to the moment. Yet another great example of its ability to pivot in the face of uncertainty.
Tip #3: Bring the showroom into their room.
Our goal at BASIC® is to turn cultural value into company value. This requires moving at the speed of culture as well as the speed of our partners’ businesses. Messaging has to be scalable yet feel tailor-made to fit customers' specific needs. As more brick-and-mortar retailers are forced to pivot with the needs of the pandemic, they’re looking to start relationships at the moment of consideration and sustain them beyond this initial interaction. Now more than ever, your products or services need to tell a useful, benefit-driven story to help customers contextualize where you fit into their day-to-day.
Let’s reflect on a recent BASIC® collaboration with Design Within Reach (DWR) in which we co-created its latest eCommerce experience. Along with the fame that follows its world-renowned furniture, DWR is also known for its hands-on, in-store experiences facilitated by expert Account Executives. Whether customers walk in knowing what they want or simply want to browse, they're welcomed with a conversation that's both educational and inspirational—helping them create a space that feels unique to their individual styles. But what happens when pandemic protocol removes this personal connection? Together with DWR, we brought this same one-to-one experience right into the eCommerce platform. We knew live chat alone wouldn’t be enough to replicate this relationship, so we included an option for live video walkthroughs of showroom inventory with the same in-store experts. This brings the familiar customer experience DWR is known for offline, into the online world. Now, when a user visits the site, they can browse at their leisure or reach out directly to have a personal conversation about their needs.
Put it all together.
Today, people have more leisure time at home, so the timeline for brand consideration is longer. This means customers have even more time to spend researching across your site, competitor sites, and an exhausting list of additional channels before making a decision. They may see a product three times before diving deeper, and just because they click doesn't mean they buy. But leisure time can become a nightmare, too, so it’s more important than ever to sustain personal connections online. Even before the pandemic, businesses were given countless ways to interact with new and returning customers virtually. What was once just a single channel has become the cornerstone of genuine connection. Now is the time to capitalize on the online presence you had going into 2020. Or in some cases, build it from scratch.