In a world where consumers have unprecedented access to information and purchase options, businesses must create experiences that meet customers wherever they are—online or in-store, mobile or desktop—and exceed expectations with every interaction. In today’s digital landscape, ecommerce has grown in prominence as customers become more informed and enlightened about their buying options.
As a result, omnichannel strategies have become increasingly popular among retailers looking to thrive in the new age of digital commerce. An omnichannel strategy integrates all sales channels in a way that gives customers access to the same products and services wherever they are: at home, on the road, or online. By combining online and offline sales channels into one seamless experience for shoppers, merchants can drive up conversion rates and capture new audiences while streamlining operations for efficiency.
Omnichannel also provides branding access across all the online and offline channels; however, it goes further by providing seamless and integrated experiences across all these channels. As consumers move between devices and digital platforms transitions are seamless and the message is informed through previous encounters.
Omnichannel allows organizations to take a true customer-centered approach which ensures a complete and consistent customer journey. Almost all brands agree that omnichannel can provide optimal customer service. Although adopting an integrated omnichannel strategy is no easy task, integrating it effectively requires some serious work.
As we’ve already established, an omnichannel business is one that sells across multiple channels. But how do you actually become an omnichannel business? Well, before you begin, you need to determine which channels you want to sell through (both online and offline channels). Most retailers sell their products through multiple channels, including their website, social media, an e-commerce marketplace, and brick-and-mortar stores.
Now, before you start selling through all of these channels, it’s important to know that some channels are easier to manage than others. For example, if you want to sell your products through social media, you’ll have to consider which networks are best to use. If you’re selling your products online, you’ll need to set up a website where you’ll have to make sure you have the right inventory and a payment system. It’s not easy, but it’s essential if you want to become an omnichannel business.
As you can see, becoming an omnichannel business is challenging, but if you’re willing to put in the work, it’s worth it. It can create a consistent brand experience that customers love. It’s a transitional period for retail businesses, so don’t feel bad if you’re struggling to keep up. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to help you along the way. Our product Breadstack can help you adapt an omnichannel approach. However, here are the basics for setting up your own omnichannel strategy.
The first step in creating an omnichannel strategy is determining which channels to include in your strategy. Here are a few key considerations: There are no set rules for which channels to include in your omnichannel strategy. However, the most successful strategies include online and offline sales channels that complement each other and don’t compete against one another.
For example, if you sell shoes online and in-store, you’ll want to make sure your online inventory reflects the products that are found in-store and vice versa. The key to successful omnichannel integration is seamless customer experience. Customers should be able to order products in one channel and seamlessly return or exchange them in another. This is the baseline for omnichannel; everything is connected.
The benefits of an omnichannel strategy are numerous, including:
Higher conversion rates – Customers are able to research products in-store and purchase them through their preferred channel, whether that be desktop, mobile, or in-store. This also allows you to capture data to better tailor future marketing efforts.
New customer segments – By using omnichannel strategies to extend your reach and accept additional payment methods, you can attract new customer segments that may otherwise have been unable to purchase from your business.
Improved customer service – By putting robust customer service tools in place, you can deliver flawless experiences across all channels, reducing the likelihood of negative reviews and improving overall brand sentiment.
Improved customer retention – Happy customers are likely to become repeat customers and improve customer loyalty, driving up sales and increasing profits.
An omnichannel inventory platform (OIP) is the digital infrastructure that connects your sales channels and allows customers to view inventory across all channels in real-time. For example, if you operate an ecommerce website and a physical store, an omnichannel inventory platform allows customers to view products across both channels in one place.
This seamless experience elevates customer satisfaction, reduces cart abandonment, and enables customers to shop online for products they may not have otherwise been aware of. In addition to improving the customer experience, an OIP also improves your operations for online channels and offline channels.
The system can be used to synchronize inventory, manage returns, and process payments. OIP provides businesses with crucial information about customer habits. You can use this data to better tailor product offerings, marketing campaigns, and customer service efforts.
Beyond inventory synchronization, there are a number of advanced shopping tools you can employ to improve the customer experience through omnichannel sales channels.
Virtual sessions – Virtual session uses this technology to host online styling sessions, enabling shoppers to interact with sales associates.
Augmented reality – AR technology allows you to bring products to life by allowing shoppers to interact with products in their environment via a mobile device or computer.
Digital fitting rooms – Digital fitting rooms allow customers to virtually view products. These tools also function as a way to collect measurements and provide sizing recommendations which are used to store customer data.
Store visitors can be an untapped source of revenue; however, some retailers struggle to re-engage these customers as they leave the store without making a purchase. To engage these customers and drive up sales, utilize omnichannel marketing strategies, such as:
In-store mobile experiences – Offer customers who visit your store access to exclusive mobile experiences, including product tutorials and quizzes, shopping lists, and exclusive deals and promotions.
Physical coupons – Offer physical coupons that are redeemable both online and in-store to increase foot traffic and boost sales.
Store events – Host in-store events, such as sample sales or product demonstrations, to engage customers and drive up sales.
Targeted promotions – Give offers or discounts to repeat customers based on past shopping online data. Tailor items directly to customers.
Chatbots – Basic product questions can be answered in real-time with a customer service chatbot.
Successfully integrating online and offline sales channels is an ongoing process that requires effort and investment from every member of the organization. Channels can be shown through a desktop or mobile device. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for creating an omnichannel strategy, there are a few key steps you can follow to get started.
Define your customer – Identify your target customer and their preferred purchasing channels and devices. What devices do they use to shop? What are the most comfortable with? How do they prefer to pay?
Map out your business – Identify the assets you currently have in place and which channels and devices you could integrate to accommodate your target customer. Think about your existing inventory, payment methods, and customer service efforts.
Map out your customers’ journey – Create a map of your customer’s journey through your sales channels. Where do they start, and where do they end up? What devices do they use? What steps do they take along the way?
The future of ecommerce is all about giving the customer what they want, when and where they want it. Successful retailers will be those who can master the art of omnichannel and provide customers with a consistent experience no matter where they shop.
To do so, businesses must create a seamless experience across all sales channels and integrate online and offline sales channels into one cohesive strategy. An omnichannel strategy is crucial in a world where customers have unprecedented access to information and purchase options.
Breadstack can offer to keep your business up to date. We bring a seamless approach to introducing new technology to your current business. Contact us today for a free demo!