Omnichannel: All you need to know

Posted by Hilda Wandawa on

Omnichannel: All you need to know

Omnichannel has become somewhat of a buzzword in the eCommerce vernacular. Signifying an evolution from multichannel retailing, omnichannel takes things a step further by not only acknowledging that consumers use multiple channels during the shopping process, but that they also expect synchronization between them. 

With 87% of retailers claiming that an omnichannel approach is crucial to their success, we’re sure you are eager to learn more about this hot topic.

What Does Omnichannel Mean?

If a company employs an omnichannel strategy, it means that they are focusing on providing shoppers with a seamless experience as they move from channel to channel. It puts the customer in the hot seat by communicating with them in ways that are aligned with the customer’s intended use of the channel. Data from all customer touchpoints must be connected and combined in a centralized system to form a single customer view.

Having an omnichannel strategy means that you wholly understand your customers and use this knowledge to provide a unified and integrated shopping experience that is highly personalized. 

What are the Benefits of an Omnichannel Strategy?

Consumers crave experiences uniquely tailored to them. They want brands to demonstrate this in the form of personalized messages, offers, and recommendations. This is such a necessity for the modern consumer that 74% of shoppers feel frustrated when they are presented with irrelevant content. An omnichannel approach takes personalization to new heights, as it uses behavior on previous channels to inform the content shown at the customer’s next touchpoint with the brand. Let’s create hypothetical scenarios to demonstrate the increased personalization of an omnichannel strategy. 

A company that has a singular channel focus for marketing activities may use geo-location to create Facebook ads for promotional events. With the help of geolocation, they can target consumers with ads in their native tongue, or shoppers in their most fruitful regions.

An omnichannel retailer, on the other hand, is more concerned with its individual customers. A customer may browse for a particular item and fail to complete a purchase. When this customer next logs in to Facebook, an ad for the product will appear with a promotional discount to draw the shopper back to make a purchase. An omnichannel retailer can communicate with their customers via a chatbot, and pick up the conversation where they left off via email or phone. Its adversary would need the customer to relay information again once the method of communication is switched.

But is this level of personalization really necessary? Totally! 72% of consumers expect businesses to know their past purchase history regardless of the method of communication, and 70% of consumers believe that companies should take steps to ensure that they don’t need to repeat information to different representatives. Additionally, the centralization of data and customer-centric implementation of strategies necessary for this degree of personalization is more efficient when contrasted with single-channel implementation tactics.

Another great benefit of being an omnichannel retailer is the type of customers they attract;  loyal, high-spending shoppers - the ultimate goal for every business. A study by Harvard Business Review unveiled that omnichannel shoppers have bigger baskets, spending 10% more online than their single-channel counterparts. Moreover, the same study found that consumers who had an omnichannel experience logged 23% more repeat shopping trips within a six-month period. Also, they were more likely to recommend the brand compared to single-channel shoppers. We can relate this behavioral pattern to omnichannel practices meeting the expectations of modern consumers.

An interesting development spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic is the potential necessity for omnichannel experiences. As the rise in COVID variants implants more worry into the safety of being around large crowds, brick-and-mortar retailers may need to consider ways to limit in-person contact with their customers. Businesses with physical stores will have to integrate their online operations with offline ones, allowing shoppers to build their baskets online, and complete or pick up their purchases in-store. This addresses customer worries with 79% of them citing in-store pick-up as an important option since the pandemic began.

Related: 4 Changes in Retail eCommerce Post-pandemic

The wealth that developing an omnichannel strategy presents is hopefully a tantalizing prospect. So with that, let’s jump straight into how your business could adopt an omnichannel presence.

How to Deliver Great Omnichannel Experiences

Understand your customers

As omnichannel experiences are customer-centric, it should come as no surprise that a solid knowledge of your customer base is needed. It requires you to go further than just knowing who your target groups are. You should be investigating questions like:

  • What channels does my customer base prefer to make purchases on?
  • How are they interacting with us on the current channels we offer?
  • Where are they turning to for customer service enquiries?
  • Which channels do they use for product research and discovery?

A useful exercise that will go a long way in helping you understand your customers is to create a customer journey map. With these insights, you’ll be better attuned with your customers, equipped with the ability to optimize each channel in ways that flow in sync with them. 

omnichannel experience
In this example customer journey map, we can see the different paths a consumer may take on their way to a purchase. With this knowledge, eCommerce merchants can ensure that each channel is equipped to handle the specified behaviors. (Source: Omni Talk)

Set up an omnichannel infrastructure

Considering that omnichannel strategies require individualistic messaging and integration across multiple channels, you will need an infrastructure which will allow you to connect these channels, and collect customer data from them.

Shopify Plus provides an omnichannel commerce solution, allowing merchants to sell across multiple channels and marketplaces, in addition to integrating them under one roof for efficient management that allows for automated and personalized marketing campaigns. 

Non-Shopify Plus merchants are able to integrate data and connect their channels together, albeit with a few extra steps. 

There is a range of apps that allow you to extend your storefront across countless channels such as Facebook, Amazon, Instagram, and more. 

omnichannel experience on red dress
Red Dress Boutique attributes a lot of their success to social media, Facebook page, advertising, Shopping on Instagram, and Stories that link directly to products. With 54% of social media users aged 18-34 have already purchased on social media, adding social commerce to your strategy is a no-brainer. (Source: Shopify Enterprise)

You’ll also need to integrate a marketing solution that will allow you to collect customer insights and deliver personalized messaging across platforms. Optimove may come in handy here as it takes customer data such as browsing history and automates campaigns across channels based on this.

omnichannel solutions on shopify
Shopify merchants can use Optimove in order to further the customer journey in various channels with tailored promotions based on a customer’s behavior. (Source: Shopify)

Make use of modern technologies

Enabling commerce via social and mobile platforms is nothing new, so why not go the extra mile to give your omnichannel strategy a competitive edge with the inclusion of innovative technology?

AR is increasingly showing its potential for being an excellent tool in bridging the gap between the online world and the offline world, with 51% of global consumers expressing an interest in using it for product evaluation. With such a high level of interest, and omnichannel strategies having a strong focus on consumer desires, AR could be the next frontier for omnichannel retailers. You can use Shopify AR to bring your products to life and take “try-before-you-buy” to a whole new level.

Final Thoughts

Consumers want to be treated as individuals, something that is fast becoming a necessity as many businesses follow suit. Omnichannel strategies go a long way in achieving this as they put consumers on the center stage.

The steps to achieving an omnichannel presence may seem gruelling at first, but there are many tools at hand for SMBs to assist in automating this process. Creating memorable, positive experiences for consumers is the key to forming long-lasting and valuable relationships. So don’t hesitate to start your journey on the path to omnichannel retail.