So, you’re well on your omnichannel commerce journey—not only selling across multiple platforms, but also offering shoppers a unified customer experience at every touchpoint. Congratulations! It’s no easy feat, which is why so many businesses are hesitant to make the jump. Now it’s on to the next challenge: Strengthening your operations to make them even more seamless, efficient, and profitable than the competition. Feeling stuck? Consider these omnichannel commerce operations strategies from four industry experts.
#1 Map Out Your Customer Journey
As you scaled your business, chances are you added new sales channels along the way rather than launching them all at once. Slow but steady growth ensures sustainability, so expanding in response to demand is a smart strategy. The only issue? As a result, there’s a real chance you now have some gaps in your customer journey. Perhaps shoppers’ carts aren’t saved between browsing on a laptop and mobile device, or maybe your marketplace storefront doesn’t offer purchase recommendations like your website does. Consumers expect a seamless transition between every channel, so savvy retailers know to plug these holes fast.
That’s why it’s a worthwhile exercise to map out your customer journey, or create a visual representation of how shoppers turn into buyers. With this resource, you’ll better understand your customers’ needs, pain points, and so much more. It will reveal the parts of your experience causing the most friction, as well as the most effective touchpoints for driving conversions. Research from McKinsey reveals that companies often fall short because they don’t understand the needs and preferences of their customers along omnichannel journeys, so gaining these insights puts your business on steadier ground.
Once you’ve identified if/where gaps exist, customer experience expert Bernard Chung recommends closing them by:
- Moving beyond the basics of customer demographics to better understand their online behavior
- Connecting online and offline behavior by integrating technology into in-store operations
- Keeping the relationship alive by enhancing customer touchpoints and building trust throughout the journey
A few key tweaks can create a truly seamless experience across channels, strengthening your omnichannel commerce operations.
#2 Leverage Your Omnichannel Data
If there’s one thing industry experts agree on, it’s the criticality of using data to improve omnichannel commerce operations. That’s because your customer touchpoints and sales channels offer immense amounts of data to inform the path forward, and that information gives you the power to streamline and personalize your customer experience. What’s more, quality data sets allow you to analyze performance in real time. “This allows agile organizations to act on the data to generate additional business value out of it, no matter the velocity at which it comes into the business,” says omnichannel marketing expert Brian Eisenberg.
Make sure that your data is providing you with operational insights to help improve your customer experience. Webgility can help get you started.
How can you take advantage of the priceless insights good data brings to the table? High-growth sellers employ the following omnichannel operational strategies, says Sean Buckley, Retail Partnerships Lead at Shopify:
- Making strategic investments according to the ways shoppers are discovering, considering, and eventually buying products.
- Identifying top conversion paths to increase the quality of their customer bases.
- Segmenting and prioritizing based on the number of purchases existing customers have made.
#3 Shift to a Customer Focus
As business owners, it’s easy to fixate on your To Do list and forget about your customers’ needs, especially when navigating the omnichannel chaos. But, let’s remember, customers are the reason you’re in business, so make sure they’re always a focal point of your strategy. The good news? If you’ve taken tip #2 to heart, you already have plenty of data with which to create great experiences for them.
For existing customers, the shift might be offering product recommendations based on their online and in-store browsing and purchase history. Utilizing this data across multiple touchpoints strengthens the connection between shoppers and retailers, ultimately driving more purchases. Rytis Lauris, CEO of omnichannel retail marketing platform Omnisend, has noticed the link between personalization and profits: “When you provide this relevancy, customers respond better to it, they purchase more, and they come back more often,” he says.
This concept also applies to omnichannel marketing, which helps retailers optimize their customer acquisition process. “Omnichannel marketing helps brands create the messages that customers want to see, when they want to see them, and on the channels they prefer the most,” Lauris says. In turn, retailers can dedicate the appropriate time and resources to those channels. It’s a win-win—shoppers are shown the content (messaging and products) that they actually want to see, and sellers reap the benefits of providing personalized experiences.
#4 Use Tech to Work Smarter
It’s no secret that omnichannel commerce is a complex business. Data collection alone is a major challenge, not to mention day-to-day operations like accounting and inventory management. But seasoned sellers leverage technology to streamline time-consuming processes and funnel performance analytics into a single hub. The marketplace’s best solutions not only help keep businesses running smoothly, but also help retailers make better decisions that result in higher profitability.
Controlling your products from one program is a great way to help minimize any sort of inventory mistakes.
Here’s a key example: If an online customer wants to make a return at a brick-and-mortar location, manually processing that return requires updating your in-store inventory, your online inventory, and your accounting system. You also have to issue a refund. That’s a lot to do by hand, and it takes time away from making more sales. (Additionally, this could lead to incorrect inventory counts and unhappy customers.) But by automating your inventory management, everything stays up to date and accurate across sales channels.
Nick Manzo, global omnichannel lead at 1WorldSync, perfectly summarizes the need for a solid tech stack: “Without establishing a firm foundation, brands can’t handle the challenges that a smooth omnichannel experience entails,” he says. “However, brands that invest in the right technology and implement proactive measures are more likely to succeed regardless of how sales channels or customer expectations evolve.”