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Q&A: Omni-channel communication in the modern retail world

The fast-paced retail environment has embraced new digital technologies to support online shopping. As a result, the increased need for online connectivity has meant retailers have had to adopt omni-channel communication strategies.

According to recent research from Interactive Intelligence, using the right communication channels is essential for businesses as nearly half the UK population (49 per cent) would consider abandoning their online shopping if the retailer did not offer their preferred method of communication. In the survey examining the buying behaviour of 1,000 UK consumers, nearly three quarters (74 per cent) said they would abandon their basket if a customer service representative was too slow to respond to them.

We spoke to Dave Paulding, UK Regional Director for Interactive Intelligence, about the importance of understanding your customer’s shopping habits to build the fundamentals to a successful business.

  • What do you see as the biggest issue facing online retailers today?

Retailers face a big challenge in having good communication across all channels, gone are the day of having a telephone and in-store presence only. Interactive Intelligence recently found that almost half (49 per cent) of consumers would potentially abandon their shopping basket if an online retailer failed to offer their preferred method of communication.

Nearly three quarters of consumers (74 per cent) said they would abandon their purchase if a retailer’s customer service representative was too slow in responding to them.

  • How important is it that online retailers offer multiple communication channels?

Nine in ten (90 per cent) consumers said they had a preferred method of communication when reaching out to a retailer. As half of consumers will abandon a sale without their preferred method of communication, it is vital retailers offer multiple channels in order to maximise sales.

  • What is the most popular communication method among UK consumer when reaching out to a retailer?

Email emerged as the top choice in terms of preferred retailer communication method with nearly half of UK consumers (48 per cent).

  • Is telephone still a popular method of retailer communication among UK consumers?

According to the survey the phone is not the king it once was amongst UK consumers, telephone and in-person communication are favoured by just 16 per cent of consumers respectively.

  • What about newer text-based methods like Real Time Chat – are they popular?

Live text chats are favoured by 2 per cent of UK consumers surveyed by Interactive Intelligence. We anticipate this will become a growing trend, in future years we will see these figures grow as they encroach on traditional methods.

  • Did instant messaging apps emerge as a favourite method of retailer communication?

When it comes to communicating with a retailer instant messaging apps have yet to make a significant impact – just one per cent of surveyed consumers said they favoured them when reaching out to a retailer, however we also see this as another growing area.

  • Based on the results of the Interactive Intelligence study, what actions should companies take to respond to customer requirements?

With more and more shopping online being carried out each year, businesses who get their customer engagement right will have a significant advantage over their competitors. This makes a big difference to sales. One channel fits all does not work. Businesses need to ensure they can offer the same high standard of customer service across every channel.

  • How many consumers took part in this Interactive Intelligence study?

The study was carried out online among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 British adults aged 18 and above.