Merchants Who Sell Through Affiliates Are 4X More Likely to Make A Sale
In the next 12 months, global eCommerce sales are expected to hit $1.4 trillion as more and more consumers increasingly use mobile and tablet devices to shop. But the future is not just about online shopping. Shoppers are demanding, smoother, more personal integrated shopping experiences, hence the ever growing trend of Omni-Channel.
Omni-Channel is an evolution of multi-channel retailing that provides the consumer a seamless shopping experience across shopping channels, online or off and its not just about mobile or responsive design. Omni-Channel should include the online to offline experience; consumers finding a product online as well as shopping in store. what does refocusing on omni-channel mean for online shoppers? What does the mean for retailers, what does this mean for affiliates?
Starbucks is a perfect example of how an omni-channel approach to marketing improves the customer experience. The Starbucks app makes coffee buying a smooth experience. All the information about the product is in the app as well as the ability to purchase. That commerce functionality is given a bit of omni-channel goodness making the reloading of one's Starbuck's card balance an agnostic one. It can be done from the app, from the Starbuck's website or in person at a Starbucks. Everything's updated no matter where the transaction takes place and awards accumulate without any action on the user's part.
Taking things a step further, a true omnichannel experience would seamlessly connect a merchant's online shopping cart (filled via mobile or web) with an in-store shopping cart that's at the ready when the customer walks into their chosen physical store and calls it up on a kiosk or at the register using NFC, Bluetooth or even a passcode.
The gist of the perfect omni-channel experience from the customer perspective is that the shopper should never have to do anything more than once or backtrack in any way during the shopping process no matter where or on what device the shopping occurs. And they should be served the right information at the right time based on the context of the situation.
In a way, the benefits of omni-channel to the retailer and similar to the benefits the shopper experiences; everything is seamless and smooth and moves in one, uninterrupted direction from initial contact to final checkout. Specifically for the retailer, this results in fewer abandoned shopping carts and increased sales because if something's not available in-store, it can easily be accessed while in the store via a kiosk or via the shopper's device. This increases the likelihood the retailer will not lose the sale and potentially make sales they wouldn't otherwise have made.
Because omni-channel ties together the entire chain of shopping events (through closely knit, all-in-one-channel data collection), a clearer picture is painted for the retailer allowing them to better serve the individual needs of shoppers as well as notice trends sooner and adapt more quickly to changing shopping patterns.
And by collecting this personalized information, the retailer can deliver a more personal shopping experience by delivering (via web, mobile or in-store kiosk) items that might be of interest to the shopper based on their search and shopping histories.
Recent Forrester research (http://info.linkshare.com/download-our-new-affiliate-marketing-whitepaper) found that deal-driven consumers turn to affiliate sites first and they often start and end their shopping experiences at an affiliate site. This, Forrester says, is because of the prevalence of affiliate deal sites, coupon sites and comparison-shopping sites. People are simply conditioned to look in these places during their omni-channel excursion. This is very good news for affiliates and brands working with affiliates.
In fact, according to the study, three times as many shoppers believe the promotional deals they find on affiliate sites are better than the ones they see on a retailer's website. In addition, affiliate channel shoppers are 4x more likely to try a new brand after receiving an offer and usually spend more than the average online shopper.
Because of these findings and because merchants are recognizing the benefits of omni-channel, the affiliate channel is ripe and well-positioned to experience rapid growth as long as everyone in the affiliate channel plays nice with one another. Merchants have to craft affiliate programs for their affiliates that are easily implemented and follow brand compliance. Networks have to facilitate transactions that are seamless and invisible to the consumer. Affiliates need to insure their selling efforts play nice with the brand's omni-channel practices. Basically, everyone needs to make the shopping process as easy as slipping a dollar bill into a dancer's g-string.
This guest post was written by Greg Shepard, CEO of AffiliateTraction.