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3 Big Omnichannel Trends to Expect in 2020

Credit: Timothy J Woods

Omnichannel is set to move front and center as part of customer experience (CX) strategy in 2020. Still a relatively nascent concept, it grew in prominence in 2019 but companies haven’t fully embraced it yet in a widespread manner. This is all set to change in 2020, as companies move to avoid falling behind competitors in the race to keep pace with changing customer demands.

Omnichannel marketing combines all customer interaction points, including both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce stores, email, and social media accounts across desktop and mobile into a single integrated customer journey toward purchase and long-term loyalty. So what exactly will be the drivers of change in 2020?

Trend #1: The rise of semi-automated packaged solutions

The global omnichannel retail commerce platform market is expected to grow to $11.1 billion by 2023, according to Market Research Future, which also notes that “Key factors driving the growth of omnichannel retail commerce platform market are the increasing adoption of e-commerce for convenient online shopping purposes and the rising adoption of smartphones and tablets.”

Customer experience is becoming complex, with 51% of businesses using at least eight channels for CX alone. With this in mind, semi-automated solutions may be particularly helpful for smaller SMBs, who stand to benefit from an AI-driven solution that covers omnichannel needs efficiently and at an affordable price point.

Trend #2: Brick-and-mortar transformation into a top-of-funnel engine

There’s been a lot of industry talk in recent years about the death of the brick-and-mortar store. But, rather than die, it’s more likely to evolve, as companies are getting wise to its potential as a top-of-funnel driver. According to TotalRetail’s Alan Finlay, “online retailers are beginning to see brick-and-mortar stores as a new marketing channel that offers lower customer acquisition costs while digital marketing costs continue to rise.”

From trying on clothes to sampling a pair of headphones, and from easy returns to the simple fun of shopping in-store, brands are keenly aware of the importance of appealing to this customer preference.

Trend #3: A new way to build customer relationships based on emotional connection

Brands are increasingly focusing on developing a deeper understanding of their customers, which is key to building the kind of relationship that keeps the customer sticking around in the long term. And what they’ve found is that customers increasingly want an emotional connection with brands. According to Harvard Business Review, “When companies connect with customers’ emotions, the payoff can be huge.”

Known as brand intimacy, the ability to generate positive emotions in a customer helps brands drive sales and customer loyalty. In 2020, we may see organizations aim to humanize touchpoints across channels with an overarching goal of building a strong emotional connection. However, this will likely be problematic for traditional organizations with aging technology, as their more tech-savvy, nimble, direct-to-consumer counterparts leverage hyper-personalization, customer behavior analytics, and AI-driven machine learning capabilities.

Accelerating brand success in 2020

2020 is a huge year for omnichannel. Other trends to watch out for include instant communication support, removing friction from the checkout process online, and using data better to hyper-personalize the CX. They all have one thing in common: a convergence toward the deliverance of a more intimate, urgent, and emotionally resonant experience. With customer experience becoming the key differentiator in the digital age, laggard adopters could soon find themselves behind the times.

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