The sales process constantly evolves to improve communication, customer satisfaction, and commerce profitability. Before, one sales channel, such as a physical store, was enough. Later on, technology advanced, and merchants started interacting with the customers via multiple channels, so email marketing, websites, chatbots, etc., added up.
However, the most modern approach to retail is the omnichannel strategy. Read ahead to find out the definition of omnichannel retail, how it affects the online and offline customer experience, and whether you should introduce it in your ecommerce business operation.
Omnichannel Retailing Definition
Omnichannel retailing combines all client communication and sales across online, offline, and media channels into one system, thus enabling continuous interaction with the customers and seamless transition from one channel to another. Omnichannel integration allows you to combine marketing efforts and develop the best possible business response to changes in customer behavior.
Here is an example of an omnichannel customer journey:
- A client wants to buy a new sweater.
- He or she starts Googling options and follows the first link from the search.
- The customer compares the results among several different sources and selects the preferred option.
- The user then checks the selected website for offers and promotions.
- The client joins the mailing list to receive a welcome bonus for the first purchase.
- Then, the user applies the received promo code and selects the click-and-collect option.
- The customer visits the offline store to collect the order and try on the sweater.
- The client sees another item they like in-store and purchases it as well.
This chain of events showcases how an omnichannel system works. Such a smooth customer experience is possible due to the fact that the online and offline sales outlets of the store are integrated and synchronized instead of being managed separately.
There are plenty of benefits that come along with omnichannel presence in commerce, which we will take a look at below.
Advantages of Omnichannel Sales
Now that you know how to define omnichannel retail, the next question is how you can benefit from implementing this strategy across your social media, offline and online channels. Here are some of the advantages an omnichannel retailer is sure to experience:
- Improved efficiency. Having a centralized database, accessible through any channel, implies increased visibility of your goods and promotions and easily accessible product information. Besides, interconnected online and offline sales outlets are extremely convenient for consumers.
- Increased sales. Your retail business’s sales volume will rise with the adoption of an omnichannel strategy since the products you offer will be available for ordering 24/7 in any convenient way for the clients.
- Higher retention rates. Users tend to return to companies with great products and customer service. An omnichannel business contributes to the latter and turns one-time buyers into your loyal clients.
- Better understanding of your consumers. The omnichannel technology enables you to collect valuable customer data from a variety of sources. For instance, you will know what the users check at the website, whether they read the newsletters, from which channel they purchase more often. This data can be used for end-to-end analytics and adjusting your sales accordingly.
- Faster updates. The synchronization between the sales channels allows you to speed up the process of introducing updates. Instead of dealing with multiple different services, you can manage everything in one window.
- Higher customer satisfaction. You won’t face the need to duplicate messages in different channels and spam your clients with irrelevant information. For example, when they buy a product, they will not receive an email or push notification promoting the same item.
The list goes on - sounds great, doesn’t it? What’s more, the latest statistics prove these statements about omnichannel retail to be right.
Let the Numbers Speak: Omnichannel Retail Statistics
Here are some impressive stats that further showcase the advantages of omnichannel solutions:
- 71% of in-store shoppers who use smartphones for online research claim that their device is becoming increasingly important for their experience at the physical store.
- Businesses with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement maintain an average of 89% of their clients, in contrast with 33% for companies where the omnichannel strategy is weak.
- The number of click-and-collect orders has grown by 208% throughout the pandemic.
- 45% of consumers expect sales associates at land-based stores to be aware of the online-only products.
- Omnichannel strategies generate an 80% higher rate of the clients’ in-store visits.
As you can see, omnichannel shopping has become an integral part of life for many customers across the globe. So if your retail business hasn’t adopted this strategy just yet, there’s no time better than now!
Excellent Examples of an Omnichannel Strategy in Retail
Omnichannel retail is no longer a black and white process like when it was just starting to emerge. Since there are many channels and strategies a store can use to attract and engage customers, businesses have to stay innovative to have a competitive advantage.
Here are some great examples of retail companies that bring the omnichannel marketing strategy to a whole new level:
Timberland is a renowned outdoor brand and omnichannel retail chain. It generates personalized offers for its customers by collecting data on their purchasing behavior in its offline stores around the world.
At points of sale, customers receive free tablets with information about the products, such as their characteristics and availability. Using a mobile gadget, every visitor can view the items online and decide which store to go to if they want to buy them.
The store collects the data received online and uses it to form a mailing list via the Internet so that after a while, the customer receives a personalized offer by e-mail.
Amazon is possibly one of the most renowned omnichannel retailers in the world with an unmatched customer experience. This sales platform has an app and website that automatically sync customers’ shopping carts and offers a choice of client support options.
The Amazon Prime members experience the company’s omnichannel approach to the fullest, as they get access to all their membership benefits across all platforms and devices they are using.
A fun example of omnichannel in retail was the marketing campaign of Topshop for London Fashion Week. The retail brand placed digital billboards across the UK, a ten-minute walking distance away from the store. Each of these billboards was synchronized with the company’s Twitter account.
When social media followers and customers used the hashtag #LFW when tweeting, the billboards displayed the tweets with a relevant product from Topshop’s catalog. This way, fashion enthusiasts could see where they could purchase a trending item.
Orvis is a retailer of sporting goods that received awards for its clever omnichannel strategy. The brand analyzed first-party data and realized that its target customer groups consisted mainly of customers over the age of 50.
With this knowledge, the company concluded that while this demographic isn’t fluent with technology, they demonstrate a genuine interest in such modern tools.
That’s why the brand provided its employees with tablets that had Customer Relationship Management and ecommerce tools installed, enabling ordering out-of-stock items to the brick-and-mortar store and charging customers for online and offline shopping.
This idea has proven to boost customer experience and collect valuable data from the clients, such as shopping habits and purchase history.
How to Adopt the Omnichannel Approach?
The main question is: how difficult is it to implement the omnichannel strategy in the online and offline platforms of a retail store?
Adopting an omnichannel trading model is a natural process that more and more companies of various scales are getting involved in across many industries. Here are the main steps you should take for a smooth transition from a multichannel to an omnichannel marketing strategy:
1. Customer Profiling
The first thing you could do to adopt an omnichannel approach is customer profiling. Unlike a business-centric multichannel strategy, the logical path of an omnichannel system is traced from the client to the merchant.
Thus, the better you understand the habits of your target customer groups and social following, the more precisely you will know how to adjust the omnichannel marketing strategy to the needs of your store.
2. Optimizing Data Collection
The second step of shifting from a multichannel to an omnichannel strategy is optimizing the storage and processing of data across all sales platforms your store uses, like the website, social media, and land-based locations.
The key data to collect is:
- Full name
- E-mail address
- Online cookies
- Home address
- IP address
- Cell phone number
The more data you can collect about customers across channels, the more accurately you can offer them products. Besides, you’ll be able to better select a communication approach and target your ad spend wisely.
3. Create a Channel Roadmap
For step three, it’s advisable to prepare a roadmap of the channels your store uses to reach out to the customers and think about how they will be developing when they are linked together in an omnichannel system.
Undoubtedly, your expectations for the future may end up not matching reality, as customer habits change, new channels will appear, and fresh payment trends arise. However, the aim of such a roadmap is not to make an accurate prediction but rather to have an overview of the channels you currently have and a clear understanding of your vision and goals.
4. Determine the Tools You Will Need
Various types of businesses will need different tools to transition to an omnichannel marketing approach in their operation. The main options you will have to choose from are:
- In-house resources
- Ready-made solutions from vendors
If you have a team of professionals in your team that are ready to make the necessary adjustments for your store to shift to an omnichannel model, it can be a great option. However, as you can see, there are many nuances to take into account for such significant updates to be conducted successfully.
Possible Challenges When Shifting to an Omnichannel Approach
It’s not always easy to implement omnichannel marketing solutions. Here are some common obstacles retail businesses can face along the transition process:
Established Business Processes
Companies that have been operating for more than a year, as a rule, have long-established strategies of interacting with customers and work algorithms that aren’t easy to change when switching to an omnichannel operation model.
In particular, there can be technical difficulties with optimizing the Customer Relationship Management software, connection of new communication channels, and challenges with the training of employees.
Lack of Finance
The integration of an omnichannel retail solution can be quite expensive if the organization is large and requires the design of an individual system to achieve its goals. However, the investment that a store makes to join the offline and online channels in a unified system pays off rather fast.
Shift of Roles
The job tasks of the retail store employees may experience big changes after the introduction of the omnichannel approach. For instance, a cashier at a brick-and-mortar store might face the need to deal with customers picking up click-and-collect orders, processing online returns, and new logistic mechanisms.
Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that when online and offline channels blend, you will need to provide your staff members with proper training and, perhaps, expand the team to avoid compromising customer experience.
Shortage of Staff
Some retail businesses hope to save up money when transitioning to an omnichannel marketing approach by avoiding outsourcing services and trying to perform the shift with the help of in-house talent.
While large companies that have employees that specialize in marketing, IT, and sales and have a clear understanding of the company goals may handle the omnichannel transition process, smaller businesses are likely to face significant challenges due to limited human resources.
Thus, a safe option that guarantees you peace of mind, smooth experience of transitioning to an omnichannel retail system, and customer satisfaction is reaching out to a trusted industry expert.
Fast and Simple Omnichannel Integration with Payneteasy
Have you made up your mind to introduce an omnichannel retail strategy to your company’s operation?
Payneteasy is here to make your sales channels convenient for every end customer both online and offline. With our all-in-one solution, you can offer your customers to make payments via:
- A website with a branded payments page. Manage multiple payment options through one interface.
- A mobile app using an SDK library for the integration of a payment acceptance function.
- mPOS and POS terminals at physical stores.
- ChatBots on any social media platform.
- Phone using Mail Order/Telephone Order (MOTO) transactions.
- Digital Wallets, such as American Express, Apple Pay, Microsoft Wallet, Samsung Pay, and more.
Reach out to us now and receive a working effective omnichannel solution in no time!