Imagine you’re planning a family beach vacation, and you want a “folding utility beach wagon” to carry your family’s towels, coolers, beverages, chairs, and umbrellas. You pull out your laptop to research online for “the best folding utility beach wagons for families,” and the results lead you to Jim’s Sporting Goods. You read the product descriptions but want consumer-based feedback, so you opt to comb through a few online reviews. You switch over to your mobile device to check your Twitter feed, and you notice Jim’s Sporting Goods advertising the beach wagon on your feed.
As you continue scrolling, you read several happy customers posting positive reviews. You tap on the app, and it leads you to the beach wagon’s product page on Jim’s website. As you reach checkout, you notice shipping time is three to five business days, but your family’s trip is scheduled two days from now. Excited to get to the beach, you decide to purchase and pick it up at the physical store. Does this scenario seem normal? Well, it’s omnichannel retail.
In fact, omnichannel retail is here to stay. According to Marketing Week, customers go through an average of six touchpoints before purchasing, with 50% consistently using over four. In the digital era, you can’t afford to ignore omnichannel retailing.
What is omnichannel retailing?
Omnichannel retailing is designed to meet the customers where they are — it understands consumers want a cohesive approach to marketing and purchase options, whether it is via websites, social media, brick-and-mortar, instant messaging, or email.
You can use an omnichannel retailing strategy to integrate every touchpoint across online and offline shopping. As a result of your brand-immersive approach, customers can experience a personalized way to interact with your brand from multiple online channels towards the final step of making a purchase.
From buying a beach wagon to a folding beach chair, omnichannel retailing drives customer retention and loyalty with multi-touch shopping. It addresses and meets rapidly evolving customer demands for a hyper-personalized and choice-filled shopping experience.
While this isn’t to say brick-and-mortars will cease to exist, consumers will continue seeking a single brand experience due to convenience, speed, and safety. Perhaps it is also a byproduct not just of the COVID-19 pandemic but also a result of the Amazon eCommerce giant effect. Forward-thinking retailers understood the need to compete with the Amazon shopping experience and followed suit.
B2B omnichannel retailing coming into fruition
Today, omnichannel is no longer the exception. It is the standard. While omnichannel retailing surged in the B2C environment, B2B eCommerce is having its moment. Customers want it all, and they’re getting it.
According to McKinsey’s Decision Maker Pulse survey, 83% of B2B leaders say that omnichannel retailing is a more effective method for prospecting and securing new business than traditional face-to-face sales. Future-proof your brand and retain a competitive edge, it is crucial to optimize your selling models. What does that mean? It means taking a holistic approach towards creating a hybrid sales model.
How does the customer view omnichannel retail?
How do customers respond to a unified brand experience? According to Zendesk, 87% of customers want brands to focus on providing a seamless shopping experience. Further, the Aberdeen Research group has found that brands with a robust eCommerce omnichannel experience retain 89% of their customers compared to 33% from companies with limited omnichannel engagement. ECommerce brands can capitalize on this norm with elevated customer expectations by providing a frictionless and consistent experience at each touchpoint.
Omnichannel vs. multichannel retailing: What’s the difference?
Digital commerce blurs the lines between physical markets and virtual storefronts. What are the differences between omnichannel and multichannel retail? The main difference is that multichannel retailing focuses on each channel as they operate independently, where omnichannel puts the customer’s needs first. Here are some other key points about omnichannel vs. multichannel retailing:
- Each channel in a multichannel approach is distinct, where within the omnichannel, it’s immersive.
- Multichannel retailing takes a fractured approach to the customer, where omnichannel puts the customer at the core.
- Omnichannel retailing removes boundaries between mobile, social, physical, email, onsite, and instant messaging to create a unified and integrated experience.
For instance, the multichannel retailing strategy is to offer multiple channels. However, each channel provides a different experience. On the other hand, omnichannel retailing builds on multichannel but provides a single eCommerce experience.
Benefits and challenges of omnichannel retailing
An omnichannel retailing strategy helps you meet and exceed contemporary customer expectations for streamlined and hyper-personalized services. One of the significant challenges facing the deployment of an omnichannel strategy involves channel inconsistency. What if a customer clicks on the ad promoting the beach wagon only to find it’s out of stock on the brand website? A customer will have a poor shopping experience.
To overcome this challenge requires improved tactics and integrated systems for gathering, analyzing, and sharing data across associated teams. The information may come from many sources, such as your inventory tracking software, online stores, or CRM. To illustrate, the marketing team should have easy access to inventory levels.
Invariably, your omnichannel execution must perform like a well-oiled machine. There are costs involved in hiring the right tech talent and investing in future-proof software such as scalable eCommerce solutions. As your brand grows, you will need a system that can evolve with your business without disrupting the omnichannel experience. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the demand for a perfectly integrated omnichannel retail experience is on the rise.
Nonetheless, there are many benefits to omnichannel retailing, including:
- Expansive reach in an always-on and mobile world
- Augmented resiliency even during a pandemic
- Increased customer engagement
- Seamless experiences
- Better customer retention
Incorporate a 5-Step omnichannel retailing strategy
It is essential to tailor your omnichannel retailing strategy to meet your customers’ needs first, then align it with your industry and business structure. Before adopting the tips below, take time to reexamine your objectives, company culture, and capabilities to tailor the strategy to meet your unique requirements.
- Integrate your brick-and-mortar store with your online storefronts (Make sure content and pricing is consistent across all channels).
- Invest in a future-proof eCommerce solution with the capacity to increase and effectively manage channels as needed, personalize your approach, and scale with your business.
- Design a unified omnichannel experience across every channel concerning branding, messaging, style, visuals, and fonts.
- Analyze and share accurate data across channels in real-time.
- Personalize each channel to meet the needs of your target audience.
How to implement omnichannel retail for your brand?
The most vital aspect for transforming your customer experience is digital retail transformation. It is critical to use cloud ecommerce platform to integrate your channels and serve as a single source of truth, whether viewing inventory levels in real-time or analyzing your marketing efforts.
The pace of innovation is evolving at a rapid clip. Customers are willing to pay more for products and services if they enjoy the brand interactions. Remember, put your customers’ needs at the heart of your strategy.