How to broaden your business' reach and sell across multiple channels
- Showfields, a retail store and art gallery in New York City, uses multiple sales channels to cater to its customers, including a mobile app, contactless payment, virtual store tours, and video shows.
- The store is just one example of companies that are finding new ways to satisfy drastically shifting consumer behaviors during the pandemic.
- Executives say a multi- and omni-channel approach is the way of the future.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
There's a store on New York City's Lower East Side where customers can enter, browse, and shop all without touching anything but their phones. Showfields, a retail store and art gallery in one, designed a touchless experience for a pandemic world.
Customers download the store's app, which guides them throughout the store and gives descriptions for the products displayed. Shoppers can then purchase directly in the app with contactless checkout. Those who want to shop from home can take a virtual tour of the store, shop online, or order for curbside pickup.
Showfields is using more than a handful of sales channels to cater to its customers, and it's just one example of companies that are finding new ways to satisfy drastically shifting consumer behaviours.
What is a multi- or omni-channel business?
Omnichannel payments and technology have aided many businesses to meet consumer needs during the coronavirus pandemic. A survey from specialized payments company Paysafe found small businesses in the US and Canada that expanded their payment options saw more success than those that did not. Eighty-eight percent of businesses made at least one change to their checkout in-store or online, resulting in 39% reporting an increase in volume during the pandemic.
"During the ongoing pandemic, many consumers may not necessarily prioritize shopping in store and prefer to buy online or via mobile channels," Yazdian said. "Future lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders could also prevent or at least limit restaurants and stores from hosting customers on their premises, albeit temporarily."
Social media platforms also offer business accounts multiple channels — Pinterest has pins that take you straight to a product page and Instagram users can shop ads without leaving the app.
How do brands use this approach?
One approach businesses can take to becoming multichannel is by offering contactless payments, such as Showfields' Magic Wand app that guides customers through its store, with a mobile payment screen at checkout.
"[Covid] pushed us to redefine many things we know how to do very well physically and try to figure out if there are other ways to do that," founder and CEO Tal Zvi Nathanel told Business Insider.
The store also wanted an ecommerce experience that mimics one customers might have in person, so it began regularly hosting video shows, partnering with other companies to curate product selections, and offering virtual store tours.
The pandemic has served as a catalyst for businesses to shift to digital channels. "This diversification was already happening at a consumer and a small business level, though a lot more gradually," Yazdian said. "As a business, you want to provide the payment experience that suits [a consumer's] specific preferences."
Finding the right channels for your business before adopting the technology
Nathanel said it's important to pinpoint your customer's needs before introducing any new technology into their experience. To him, it comes down to five Cs: community, content, curation, connection, and convenience. To better understand customers' everyday concerns, he suggested asking customers how can you improve their experience and what will add the most meaning or value.
"We don't believe that customers think in the terms that retailers think," Nathanel said. "It's less about the technology and more about trying to deliver on what they expect."
When adapting Showfields' approach during the pandemic, he asked, "What is the core value that we gave our customers before covid and what does this mean for them today? And then how can we deliver on it?"
Only then, did he figure out the technology that would best enable these changes, such as payment processors, apps, streaming services, and appointment booking tools.
"The hardest part today is to figure out what your customers are expecting and try to redefine that experience," he said. "The execution of it is actually the easy part."