Omnichannel Mystery Shopping in the Fashion Industry
Omnichannel mystery shopping is a fast-growing method of ensuring that customers across any industry experience smooth transitions between their online and offline experiences. Delivering great customer service doesn’t stop when a customer has made a purchase, nor should it take place in only one form – face-to-face or virtual; great customer service needs to encompass all customer touchpoints.
Let’s backtrack for a minute and define ‘omnichannel’. There are a lot of varied definitions out there at the moment:
“…ensuring [retailer] marketing strategies are geared toward enabling customers to convert on any channel.” – Google
“…the ability to deliver a seamless and consistent experience across channels, while factoring in the different devices that consumers are using to interact with your business.” – Hubspot
“Stores selling both online and offline — likely also selling through multiple online channels (i.e. on Amazon, eBay, Facebook, B2B). We’ve also been referencing the importance of listing your product wherever consumers are already spending their time. This is increasingly known as contextual commerce, a more strategic take on the overarching omni-channel term.” – BigCommerce
“Meeting people on the channels where they are shopping and buying, whether it’s in a physical store or an online store or on social media, and connecting the dots between those channels. The purpose is to keep customers moving around within the brand ecosystem, with each channel working in harmony to nurture more sales and engagement.” – Square
What all these definitions are talking about is customer touchpoints, both offline and online. A lot of the time we see fashion retailers struggling to find a balance between their offline stores and their online platforms – which do they prioritize? Is customer service better in person or via instant chat messenger? What omnichannel is really about is removing those lines that divide offline touchpoints and online touchpoints – at the of the day, omnichannel approaches are all about making sure that all customer touchpoints are equally fantastic.
Why Omnichannel now?
Online fashion shopping platforms are everywhere, and chances are, everyone has used them already. WIth the rise of Generation Z it’s now imperative that we take a look at how the fashion industry is handling its customer touchpoints. Why? Because Generation Z’s expectations and requirements are different from the Millenial and Gen X demands; Gen Z is far more comfortable with the one-click purchase scenarios we see online, and less fussy about trying things on in-store before buying the way Gen X might be.
Additionally, we are seeing a growing trend of Millenials and Gen X’ers being guided by the younger generation (Z) in making the most of online purchasing.
“With a pulse on popular culture and propensity to engage with brands on social platforms, Gen Z are proving to be important influencers of purchasing decisions by older generation family members. Put another way; parents and grandparents value the input of their in-the-know Gen Z children.” Daniel Sperling-Horowitz, Zentail President
More and more, Gen Z is become fully integrated with the world of ecommerce – buying online, engaging with ads, spending more money, and keying in to brand messages and personalities.
For those of us who’ve gotten a little muddled with the generational breakdown:
Generation Z: 18-21
Generation X: 38-53
Baby Boomers: 54-72
What this all means is: if you’re not on the omnichannel bandwagon you’d better get on fast – Gen Z is ready to take over the market, and part of their modus operandi is a great omnichannel experience.
How can Omnichannel Mystery Shopping help the Fashion Industry?
Now we know the what and the why of an omnichannel approach, let’s get to the how. A lot of companies believe their omnichannel approach is already up to scratch with the demands of their current demographic. It probably is. But, as we know, the demographic is shifting and the buying power is slipping steadily into the hands of the Gen Z’ers. For a fast-moving industry like fashion, knowing where your market is headed is one of the best ways to stay ahead of it, and, as a result, ahead of your customers.
Omnichannel mystery shopping programs can be used to measure changes in demographic demands and consumer expectations. What was a satisfying experience to the Millenial generation may differ from a satisfying experience for Gen Z.
Take the guesswork out of it. Use an omnichannel mystery shopping program to help you better understand the changing dynamics of the fashion industry’s consumers – Gen Z is wielding a big mallet of klout, and ignoring them isn’t going to do anyone any favours. Using omnichannel mystery shopping can give a company deeper insights into the way in which certain initiatives across their touchpoints are affecting consumer satisfaction and customer service experiences. Are new processes, training programs, and software add-ons having the desired effects? Are your online shoppers using the available contact systems? Are those systems efficient enough to deliver the desired outcomes?
Also read this article: Retail Customer Service: Reality of Retail Industry
Not knowing the answers to these – and many other – questions is a dangerous way forward. Every retailer, fashion or otherwise, knows how important it is to stay with or ahead of the changes in your consumer trends. You have to know your audience, your customer journey touchpoints, and where those touchpoints are excelling and failing. Using an omnichannel mystery shopping program can help isolate those areas where your touchpoints could use improvement and highlight where implemented changes and processes are having the desired effect.
The bottom line is, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know; and if you never know, then you’re running your business blindly into the unknown.