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    What Is the Future of Omnichannel Retail?

    February 16, 2021
    7 minute read
    What Is the Future of Omnichannel Retail?

    From mobile apps and your direct-to-consumer (D2C) website to marketplaces and brick-and-mortar retailers, customers interact with your brand via a range of omnichannel touchpoints.

    In an omnichannel world, brands have to be omnipresent. But far too often, companies offer consumers an impersonal, disjointed experience — with inconsistent product content across channels and recommendations that don’t speak to their unique preferences. Seventy-eight percent of brands said they don’t provide a unified experience across channels, according to Periscope Research.

    Brands need to fine-tune their channel strategy to better compete in this environment, and this starts by understanding how ecommerce arrived at this point and what your company can do to better compete in this landscape.

    The Rise of Omnichannel: How We Got Here

    Several factors have led to the rise of omnichannel retail. Advancements in technology are largely responsible for the trends we see today. With more devices comes more data and more touchpoints. Consumers now can use mobile devices to navigate to the products they want in-store — or even better — buy them on Amazon with one click.

    Shoppers can browse different sites online, comparing product prices on your D2C channel with those displayed on Google Shopping. They can pin your product on Pinterest only to buy it after seeing a sponsored post on Instagram.

    We’re in an era of “commerce everywhere,” and technology is making it happen.

    This reality also underscores two other critical trends driving omnichannel retail: customer preference and channel choice. Customer loyalty is no longer a given. Consumers primarily shop based on price, so brands that want to get their repeat business must offer a compelling, connected, and engaging customer experience during every interaction.

    Consumers also prefer convenience. Fast and free shipping is now just as important as price for consumers, and so is personalization. Companies that offer a connected experience across physical and digital touchpoints can increase revenue by 5% to 15%.

    Digital commerce has created an environment where shopping is now boundary-less. But many brand manufacturers have traditionally focused on multichannel commerce: separate touchpoints with separate strategies — at the expense of omnichannel commerce.

    However, the industry is barreling toward an omnichannel future, and brands that want to compete need to focus on technology-driven automation, internal alignment, better data management, and improved product management.

    Preparing for an Omnichannel Future

    Data silos and lack of data visibility are among the core challenges facing brands trying to implement an omnichannel strategy. To address these challenges, brands need to leverage the right technology.

    Traditionally, this would have involved separate product information management (PIM)and digital asset management (DAM) systems, but a more effective approach is to leverage an integrated platform that creates a single source of truth for all product and organizational data.

    Consolidating customer content and insights into a single platform can help brands gain the visibility they need to manage their data better and deploy it more effectively for a range of omnichannel experiences.

    An integrated platform also helps brands automate their processes and move at the speed of their customers. Managing product content is often more labor-intensive than it should be, especially when you consider the various product page requirements for each different online retailer and marketplace.

    Content sharing, resizing and formatting images, employing consistent naming conventions, and deploying enhanced interactive content should be as streamlined as possible. Brands that want to deliver better omnichannel experiences need to make automation a cornerstone of their strategy.

    However, technology only can take companies so far. Omnichannel retail also calls for brands to realign their organizations and enact cultural transformation and digital transformation. This process involves maximizing tools and resources that foster more cross-functional collaboration, such as an integrated commerce experience management (CommerceXM) platform.

    It might also involve creating new ecommerce roles that align with your omnichannel strategy, such as a technologist with deep domain expertise, a director of ecommerce who oversees your entire strategy, or a business analyst who keeps track of and reports on metrics. Your team also will need content creators and copywriters who are skilled at writing copy that converts. Bringing this creative, technological, and operational expertise together can position your brand for omnichannel success.

    Winning With Omnichannel

    With so many touchpoints and channels, the customer path to purchase now looks more like a winding road than a straight line with defined beginning and endpoints.

    Though it has become more challenging to engage consumers at every step along their journey, putting the technology, people, and processes in place to achieve this is now more critical than ever in an omnichannel environment.

    Ecommerce is booming, and the relationship brands have with consumers has wholly changed. Consumers now dictate how, when, where, and from whom they buy. If your brand wants to land and stay on the top of its list, you need to deliver a consistent, connected experience every single time.

    Watch our on-demand webinar, "Exec POV: How to Transition to a Digital-First Omnichannel Organization," to learn how your brand can reshape itself for the new digital-first consumer journey.


    Written by: Satta Sarmah Hightower

    Satta Sarmah Hightower (she/her) is a former journalist-turned-content marketer who collaborates with agencies, content studios, technology, and financial services companies to produce compelling content that helps them engage prospects and powerfully convey their message. She has worked as a content strategist,...

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