Today's marketplace is more competitive than ever. As a result, innovative businesses are leveraging omnichannel commerce to get ahead.
Regardless of where and how they shop, customers expect integrated experiences across all channels. These expectations include shopping via a website, mobile app, or in-store. 59% of shoppers indicate the importance of shopping on mobile platforms when purchasing.
The same data also shows that 56% of in-store shoppers use their smartphones to shop or look up items while they're in the store. So matter what channel the customer uses to shop, their experience must be consistent across all platforms.
A successful omnichannel commerce strategy requires more than just having a website and an app. Businesses need to understand the complete customer journey regardless of their shopping channel.
So what is omnichannel commerce, and why does it matter? Discover what businesses need to know about this modern approach to customer engagement.
What is omnichannel commerce? Experiences over touchpoints
Omnichannel commerce is an approach to merchandising and retailing that considers the customer’s purchase journey across multiple channels. Customers can shop seamlessly between traditional brick-and-mortar stores, online stores, and mobile apps.
An effective omnichannel strategy recognizes customer behavior and preferences across all channels and provides them with a consistent experience. This strategy includes personalization, tailored discounts, and loyalty programs to give customers more control over their shopping experience.
The idea is to visualize the entire customer experience, not simply the individual touchpoints. Seeing the big picture allows businesses to better understand what their customers want and how to provide a more satisfying experience.
With an omnichannel approach, businesses can provide a consistent shopping experience regardless of channel.
How does omnichannel commerce work? The online and offline customer journey
Omnichannel commerce requires a significant investment in technology, data integration, and customer service. It enables customers to start their shopping journey in one channel and complete it in another.
For example, let's say a customer wants to purchase a new refrigerator. They may start their journey by researching refrigerators on their laptop and switch to a mobile device to compare prices before purchasing the appliance in-store.
Businesses can track that customer's journey to better understand how they interact with their brand across all channels and tailor the experience accordingly. This personalization helps ensure customer satisfaction regardless of platform or device.
For the business, omnichannel commerce provides a better understanding of their customers’ preferences and purchasing behavior and helps them optimize operations for a better customer experience.
Why is omnichannel commerce important to the customer journey?
Omnichannel commerce is essential for any business looking to remain competitive in today's marketplace. It enables them to provide customers with a seamless experience across all channels and gain valuable insights into their customers’ behaviors.
Because of this, businesses can create personalized shopping experiences that drive customer loyalty and long-term engagement. Customers can find what they need quickly and easily, giving them the best shopping journey possible.
Difference between omnichannel and multichannel commerce
The difference in omnichannel versus multichannel commerce lies in the level of integration and consistency, though both involve selling through multiple channels.
Multichannel commerce refers to a strategy where businesses sell through multiple independent channels. Each channel operates in isolation, typically lacking interaction or integration between them.
For example, a business might have a physical store, an online store, and a mobile app, but customers' experiences and interactions on each platform are distinct and separate.
On the other hand, omnichannel commerce focuses on providing a seamless, integrated shopping experience across all channels. Channels are interconnected, allowing customers to switch between them effortlessly.
For instance, a customer might browse products on a mobile app, continue shopping on a desktop computer, and finally purchase in a physical store, while experiencing a consistent and continuous shopping journey. This level of integration and consistency is the hallmark of omnichannel commerce.
Benefits of an omnichannel retail strategy
Many business owners wonder if investing in omnichannel commerce is worth it. The answer is a resounding yes! There are a few reasons why.
1. It improves customer loyalty and engagement
Businesses that leverage omnichannel techniques can increase customer engagement and retention.
An omnichannel strategy allows customers to interact with your brand in a variety of ways, such as through personalized product recommendations, promotional offers, and discounts, creating a more engaging and enjoyable customer experience overall.
Smart businesses leverage omnichannel commerce to understand their customers' behaviors better. By tracking customer interactions across multiple channels, businesses can gain valuable insights into their customers' purchase habits and preferences.
These insights allow them to tailor their marketing and product offerings to meet customer needs.
2. It supports better inventory management
Omnichannel commerce makes it easier for businesses to manage inventory across multiple channels. If a product is unavailable at one store, the system can automatically check availability at other locations or online.
This capability means customers can still purchase the product by visiting a different store or ordering it online, improving customer satisfaction and increasing sales.
Additionally, omnichannel commerce enables businesses to fulfill orders from the most efficient location. For instance, if a customer orders a product online that's out of stock in the warehouse, the system can identify if the product is in a nearby store.
It can then ship the product directly from the store or arrange for customer pickup, reducing delivery times and costs.
3. It presents more selling opportunities
Omnichannel commerce presents additional selling opportunities that traditional retail methodologies may not offer. Customers can discover products while browsing social media, researching online, or entering a physical store. Each avenue becomes a potential selling opportunity.
Businesses can then upsell or cross-sell relevant products by offering personalized recommendations based on customers' shopping history or behavior. This personalized approach to selling enhances the customer experience and increases the average purchase value.
4. It can increase profits
Omnichannel commerce contributes to a significant increase in profits. Businesses gain a broader customer base with its reach across multiple channels.
This reach, in turn, leads to:
- Increased customer loyalty and a greater purchase frequency.
- Reduced marketing costs due to the ability to track customer behavior across channels and tailor campaigns accordingly.
- Enhanced brand awareness and visibility.
- Increased sales due to the availability of products online and in physical stores.
Enhanced customer engagement opportunities also allow strategic upselling and cross-selling that can increase average purchase value and other valuable ecommerce metrics.
How to build an omnichannel commerce retail strategy
Creating an effective omnichannel commerce strategy requires careful planning and execution. There are several steps businesses need to take to build an effective strategy.
1. Understand your target customers
Before you can create an effective omnichannel strategy, understand who your target customers are and their needs. This knowledge informs the design of your website, mobile apps, and other channels.
For instance, if your customers tend to browse online before making purchases in-store, you can design your strategy to facilitate this journey.
Understanding your customers involves:
- Conducting market research to gain insights into customer preferences.
- Implementing customer feedback surveys and analytics tools to gather data on customer behavior.
- Monitoring changes in the marketplace, such as new competitors.
Above all, a nuanced understanding of your customers helps you create a seamless, consistent experience for those who use multiple channels, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty, which are key to the success of your omnichannel approach.
2. Sync all channels
Keep your channels connected and ensure that product information, inventory levels, and promotional offers remain consistent. A synchronized omnichannel experience ensures customers receive consistent messaging, branding, and user experience across all platforms.
Easy ways to connect your physical and digital channels include:
- Implementing ecommerce automation software to streamline data sharing.
- Integrating inventory management systems across channels.
- Using customer relationship management (CRM) software to track and store customer information.
For instance, a customer may start their shopping journey by browsing products on your website and reading reviews on social media before purchasing in your physical store. Connecting these channels provides a unified experience that prevents any confusion or discrepancy for the customer.
3. Leverage data and analytics
Customer data can identify patterns and trends that inform future strategies and decisions. Use customer data and business analytics to better understand your customers and tailor their shopping experiences accordingly.
A few ways to leverage data and analytics include:
- Tracking customer behavior and preferences across channels.
- Using analytics software to gain insights into customer purchase patterns and sales trends.
- Creating real-time notifications or email marketing tactics to inform customers when their favorite products are available or on sale.
Businesses can create a comprehensive view of the customer journey by integrating data from various channels. This integration allows them to anticipate customer needs and provide relevant, personalized content and product recommendations.
4. Know your technology
You’ll need to invest in the right technology and tools to make an omnichannel strategy successful. Consider investing in an ecommerce platform, customer relationship management (CRM) software, and analytics tools to help you monitor performance.
Ecommerce platforms allow you to create and manage an online store. They usually come with a range of features, including payment processing, product management tools, shipping integrations, and more.
CRM software helps streamline customer service processes by allowing you to track customer data and engage with customers across channels.
Analytics tools are essential for understanding profitability and performance metrics such as website traffic, customer engagement, and purchase history. With this data, you can identify trends in customer behavior and optimize your marketing strategies accordingly.
Implementing the right technology is essential for creating a user-friendly experience that meets customers' needs.
5. Make use of personalization
Personalization is essential to omnichannel commerce. In the age of digital connectivity, customers crave personalized experiences that recognize their unique needs and preferences.
Examples of personalization include:
- Custom recommendations based on past purchases or interests.
- Targeted emails and notifications based on customer behavior.
- Special offers tailored to individual customers.
- Personalized product recommendations.
Personalization helps reinforce brand loyalty by making customers feel recognized and appreciated. It can also create an opportunity for businesses to upsell additional products or services.
Most importantly, personalization should enhance the customer's shopping experience, making it more engaging and satisfying. Customers should feel recognized and valued by the brand, which, in turn, fosters customer loyalty and increases the likelihood of repeat purchases.
6. Create an omnichannel marketing strategy
Develop a comprehensive marketing plan leveraging all your channels to reach potential customers. These channels include organic and paid social media, email, and other digital marketing tactics to reach customers across multiple touchpoints.
Additional omnichannel marketing tips include:
- Using targeted ads to reach customers in the right places and times.
- Creating unique content for each platform and channel.
- Incorporating customer feedback into your strategy.
- Prioritizing mobile optimization for better visibility.
A cohesive marketing strategy ensures consistent brand messaging and customer shopping experiences.
Whether the customer prefers shopping in-store, browsing products on an ecommerce site, or engaging with the brand on social media, an omnichannel marketing strategy ensures that they receive a consistent and seamless experience.
Omnichannel commerce platforms for retailers
Omnichannel commerce platforms can offer businesses a great way to reach and engage customers. However, certain features define a truly omnichannel experience.
When selecting an omnichannel commerce platform, look for features such as:
- A single customer view across all channels.
- Seamless payment processing.
- Unified inventory management.
- Multichannel marketing capabilities.
- Shipping automation for order fulfillment.
Platforms like Webgility, for instance, automate accounting, inventory management, and more by syncing ecommerce channels with QuickBooks. Features like multichannel inventory sync create unified shopping experiences by updating inventory counts whenever someone orders on any store or marketplace.
Omnichannel commerce software
Omnichannel commerce software helps businesses manage operations by providing customers with a seamless shopping experience. There are a variety of solutions available, ranging from full-featured ecommerce platforms to more specialized products.
When deciding which software is right for you, keep in mind your budget, needs, and objectives. Primarily, your software must be able to manage both online and in-store purchases.
Research to find out which products are the best fit for your business. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that any solution you choose is compatible with your existing technology stack and can easily integrate with other systems.
How automation supports a strong omnichannel strategy
A strong omnichannel strategy is about how customers interact with your brand on the front end. And ecommerce automation can support those efforts on the back end.
The technology uses a QuickBooks integration to connect all your online stores, marketplace stores, shipping solutions, and more to your accounting solution.
As customers place orders or initiate transactions, the automation tool automatically downloads and posts that order, payment, and tax to your accounting solution and updates availability in every store you sell a given item.
Ultimately, this update ensures you have enough stock when customers are ready to buy and don't accidentally oversell or stock out.
Meanwhile, eliminating busywork from manually entering order and financial data manually frees up valuable time for other revenue-generating tasks.
Plus, some solutions include analytics tools that help you track sales performance by channel, review seasonal trends, and forecast inventory. Identify trends in customer behavior and optimize operations according to more accurate data.