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People aren’t about to give up the omnichannel conveniences they got used to over the past two years, and businesses must meet customers’ rising expectations in their preferred channels of choiceSupplied

In business, there is the age-old adage: the customer is always right. The phrase, which was popularized over a century ago, means a business’s success depends on the satisfaction of its customers. While that still rings true, a top-notch customer experience is a lot harder to achieve today, given the proliferation of communication, marketing and retail channels.

That’s why it’s critical to have an omnichannel strategy – where multiple channels function together to provide a seamless customer experience – especially in a post-pandemic world. People aren’t about to give up the omnichannel conveniences they got used to over the past two years, and businesses must meet customers’ rising expectations in their preferred channels of choice.

“At the heart of any great customer experience is the relationship between buyer and seller, which businesses cultivate by being clear about the value they’re providing, whether it’s low prices, unique products, or an appealing shopping experience,” says Roshan Jhunja, general manager of retail at Square, a technology company providing omnichannel solutions to businesses. “So, a great omnichannel experience essentially takes those brand experiences and ensures they translate across all channels.”

In retail, that means giving customers the option to buy, return and connect with staff both online or in-store. In Square’s “2022 Future of Retail” report, 38 per cent of respondents said not having an employee on site to help will likely make them avoid shopping at a particular business. As for receiving orders, the majority of consumers want their products delivered to them (72 per cent), while some (34 per cent) still want a curbside pickup option.

With consumers wanting that kind of flexibility, Jhunja notes it can come at a cost for businesses. “You have to ensure the item is prepped and ready to go at pickup time, that your staff is equipped to get orders shipped on time, and that you minimize out-of-stock moments,” he explains. “Those costs add up fast and consumers don’t expect to pay more to cover them.”

At the same time, it can be difficult for businesses to support more channels more flexibly if they don’t have the right system in place. “The problem Square solves is that a lot of sellers are having to stitch together different solutions, and it’s hard to make them all play nice,” says Jhunja. He adds that from hardware to software and financial services, Square builds it all, which means all of a business’s systems can interact harmoniously.

By having an omni-literate system, businesses can fulfill sales and keep products moving while minimizing excess inventory and, perhaps most importantly, provide the experience customers now expect. In addition, Square’s marketing software and automation tools assist businesses in gaining access to new customers through options like text messaging, marketing campaigns, or social media marketing channels, such as TikTok and Instagram.

“In a typical buyer’s journey, the first step is awareness, and we have various ways to get products in front of potential customers,” says Jhunja, adding that these options are customizable because “not every seller wants to be in every channel, so we can do a targeted campaign based on things like demographics.”

In the shift to omnichannel, it’s not just retailers finding new opportunities to serve customers. For foodservice operators, the new normal is not only offering an in-dining experience, but also providing options for online ordering, delivery and pick-up – a change many consumers want to continue.

In Square’s “2022 Future of Restaurants” report, restaurants that offer online ordering said 39 per cent of their revenue comes from those channels, which means they need to have the right setup to provide both online and in-dining experiences.

“This is why we put a lot of thought into our design and sit down with our customers to find out what they need for their unique business,” explains Jhunja, adding that many of Square’s products can be bundled into industry-specific software packages. “For restaurants, we have specific products that can do everything, from connecting with vendors and filling orders, to tracking inventory and creating staff schedules.”

There are even solutions for hybrid businesses – those that blur the lines between sectors, for example, an apparel shop that offers a pop-up café. “This is the future of business and we’re ready for it,” says Jhunja.

Ultimately, as businesses evolve to meet ever-changing consumer demands, it’s critical they pick the right technology to succeed. For Jhunja, “Having software on your side – that’s going to work the way you want it to and be reliable – goes a long way in bringing a business into the future.”

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Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Square. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.