While retail revenue has rebounded across parts of Australia, it’s now crucial for retailers to ensure sales momentum continues through the rest of the year. However, with COVID cases still an issue in some states and health and safety a top concern for shoppers, retailers are being forced to adapt and pivot their sales strategies to maximise revenue while balancing the new regulations and comfort of customers.

Over the past few months, ecommerce and ‘click and collect’ proved an important lifeline as retailers took their offering online and to the curb, to counteract operating under strict social distancing restrictions. However, we have seen in the data that consumers are quick to get back in the store when restrictions are ease and therefore delightful in-store experiences with a focus on customer health and safety – supplemented by an effective, targeted online operation – will be integral to successful retailers for years to come. Afterall, positive customer experiences at every touchpoint will naturally lead to increased customer loyalty, positive word of mouth and, eventually, consistent sales. Here are a few tips to help you devise and implement an effective omnichannel retail sales strategy.

Implement in-store safeguards

During the ongoing pandemic, one of the best things you can do to drive traffic and sales is to instill confidence in your customers and alleviate any health and safety concerns. So, ensure you’re providing safeguards in-store. For instance, plan your store layout in line with social distancing restrictions, put posters and decals on the walls and floor so shoppers know what to do and where to stand and make sanitiser easily seen and accessible.

With your safeguards in place, ensure that you clearly communicate your in-store and back-of-house health and safety measures. Use multiple channels including your website, social media pages and physical signage, to explain the measures you’re taking to keep shoppers safe in-store. After all, considering 61% of consumers prefer to shop at retailers with a brick and mortar location than those who solely operate online, creating a safe in-store environment can act as a foundation to build your omnichannel approach.

Prioritise an omnichannel experience

While ecommerce has been gaining momentum over recent years, followed by a recent lockdown-induced spike, delightful in-store experiences are still essential to remain competitive – online sales in Australia account for only 12.3% of total retail spend. Driving sales is dependent on developing an omnichannel strategy that reaches, engages and delights shoppers on every channel. For instance, listing your in-store inventory online, developing loyalty programs, introducing click and collect, and using targeted social media marketing goes a long way to meeting consumers’ desire to interact with brands across multiple channels and devices.

Provide alternative, contactless delivery options

The pandemic has accelerated the use of alternative delivery methods such as click & collect, with 30.3% growth compared with last year. Largely driven by customer demand, contactless delivery options not only allow shoppers more flexibility and choice around how they collect their online order, but it reduces strain on Australia’s over-burdened postal network. Offering a contact-free click & collect service is not only convenient for shoppers, but it reassures them that their concerns are being taken seriously and that their wellbeing is a priority.

Not only does it help to meet customer expectations, but click & collect has a number of benefits for in-store traffic, too, with the potential to drive in-store footfall and increase in-store sales through upselling. As a result, it’s a seamless way to tie together your online and in-store presence. To ensure the customer experience is seamless and minimise the need for storage, utilise a point-of-sale system that has the ability to keep track of orders and notify customers when their order is ready for collection.

As consumers search for more ways to shop and interact with their favourite brands, retailers need to adapt in order to stay relevant and competitive. As a result, Australia’s savviest retailers are those who realise the importance of an omnichannel sales strategy, and continue to provide those well-loved, personalised and delightful experiences on every channel.

Gordana Redzovski is vice president for APAC at Vend