The rise of the connected shopper is transforming the retail experience. We are now in an era of selling that many are calling Omni-Channel Retailing (don’t worry we will get to that). Smartphone and portable technology are taking the shopping experience beyond Ms. Jones home computer and way beyond your store. To move your business forward, retailers need to react to the opportunities caused by these behavioral and shopping changes.

Omni-Channel retailing is about the touch points the consumer has with your business through different shopping channels (i.e. mobile devices, computers, brick-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalog, etc). The omni-channel consumer wants to use all channels at the same time and expects everything to be available at his or her fingertips. In today’s brick and mortar stores, Ms. Jones is entering stores already informed about a product’s features and prices, and expects store employees to know more than they do.

You as a retailer need to be armed with numerous ways to reach consumers in real time. There are five steps to understanding your ‘omni-channel’ experience. These steps will help set the groundwork for an omni-channel marketing program.

1- Define the stages of your customer’s lifecycle

Think about it. When would your Ms. Jones begin to purchase furniture from you? Is it when she buys her first house or when she first gets married? How often in a lifetime is she going to buy furniture from you? What would be the last piece of furniture she might ever buy from you? Defining these lifecycles will allow you to develop the program needed to have her purchase from you.

2- Understand who your customer is

Although we would love for every consumer to be in the market to buy, that is simply not the case. Ms. Jones who purchases a $399 sofa is much different than the Ms. Jones who might buy a $399 accent pillow. Identify the similarities your customer base has and work to find those trends in other non-customers. This will make sure you have a way to find her and keep her.

3- Plot your program

What are you trying to accomplish? Is the purpose to enhance the experience of Ms. Jones to help increase the average ticket of every purchase made? Or perhaps the purpose is to sell a certain number of units? Identifying these objectives in conjunction with your customer type will help you bring in the dollars throughout her lifecycle.

4- Modify and optimize your marketing programs

Advertising vehicles are interrelated in today’s marketplace. Ms. Jones has the ability (and adaptability) to consume multiple messages across multiple platforms all at once. To encourage this omni-channel experience what she sees in one platform has to coincide with the other to encourage her to opt-in. This will allow for true success, which equals dollars in your store.

5- Measurement and Monitoring

Once the Internet was introduced to the consumer it has allowed for the possibility of all modes of advertising to be measured, tracked and monitored. Putting triggers on all advertisements that can allow for reactive measurement (vanity URLs, vanity phone numbers and differentiate offers) will allow your marketing programs to be put to the test for success and/or failure.

Now that you have a better understanding of how to recognize whom your customer is. Here are four omni-channel marketing programs to consider trying.

Welcome program: A welcome program is a series of coordinated trigger point messages, which seek to remind recipients that your brand, product or program is worthy of them sharing their details with you. They are designed to introduce a new subscriber or customer to the brand, build trust, inform and drive the subscriber toward a first purchase or related conversion event.

Post-Purchase program: Once a customer completes a transaction, you as the retailer need to view them as a valuable lead. This program is designed to keep the customer engaged and to build upon the relationship, with the aim of turning a one-time visitor into a loyal repeat customer.

VIP or loyalty program: A successful post-purchase program will turn the customer into an advertiser. At this stage it is important you are monitoring customer activity and rewarding them for their commitment to your brand.

Win Back program: As the name would suggest, this program exists to re-engage customers who have not visited you within a designated amount of time. This program is about getting the customer to buy back into your brand in a unique and persuasive way so they connect with you again.