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Whether a customer engages with a brand in store or online, the experience should feel consistent. But far too often, it doesn’t.
Channel silos are still the norm, which means consumers frequently get a disjointed experience as they move from touchpoint to touchpoint.
They may be able to buy a product online, but they can’t return it in-store. They might return an item in-store, only to be bombarded with display ads for the same product as they surf the web on their desktop. They may abandon your online chatbot out of frustration and contact your call center, only to have to repeat the same steps and share the same information all over again.
This experience is frustrating — and can lead to lost customers and lost revenue.
However, there’s a way brands can address these challenges and move closer to giving customers the seamless experience they expect: omnichannel ecommerce. Here’s what it is and how it can boost your business.
Omnichannel ecommerce is similar to multichannel commerce, but with one clear difference: It connects all customer touchpoints and channels to create a cohesive customer experience.
However, this is more of a dream than a reality for most brands today. According to Periscope Research, 78% of brands say they don’t provide a unified experience across channels. Omnichannel has become increasingly crucial to the customer journey.
Though about nine out of every 10 purchases happened in store before the pandemic, we’ve seen a massive shift to online shopping during the pandemic — which means brands need to invest more time and resources in connecting their online and offline channels.
Omnichannel ecommerce involves unifying the customer experience across every touchpoint in which customers interact with your brand. It’s about developing an integrated ecommerce strategy and executing against it to make it as easy as possible for consumers to do business with you.
From personalization to increased brand visibility, omnichannel commerce also provides several other advantages for your brand.
If your brand is already executing a multichannel strategy, you’re probably already collecting lots of customer data from different touchpoints. The challenge may be that you aren’t deploying it in the right way.
With an omnichannel ecommerce strategy, you look at your data differently to gain deeper insights into your customers and to figure out how you can take the learnings from one channel and apply it to another in a way that seamlessly connects these touchpoints.
It might mean discovering that a significant percentage of customers who make a purchase after visiting your social media channel never visit your website but often shop in-store. With these insights, you may be able to develop new social media promotions tailored to this audience segment that allows them to get larger discounts when they redeem their offer in-store.
With this omnichannel data, you can create a more connected customer experience while also increasing conversions.
The above example also highlights another critical advantage of omnichannel retail: personalization. In ecommerce, data equals power when used correctly. With better data, you can personalize the customer journey.
Personalization is critical because it drives loyalty and conversions. Research indicates that 80% of repeat shoppers only shop with brands that personalize their experience, and 86% of marketers say their campaigns perform better when tailored to different audience segments.
Brands that personalize the customer journey seize every interaction they have with customers to show how well they understand their unique preferences.
They use these opportunities to deliver contextual, relevant messaging, such as sending a mobile flash sale offer to a customer at the exact time they are in-store and considering whether to make a purchase — converting this customer’s "showrooming," which is when a shopper checks out merchandise in store before buying it online, into an actual sale.
Research shows omnichannel customers are also loyal customers. One Harvard study of 46,000 shoppers found that those who used at least four channels to shop spent 9% more in-store than single-channel customers.
Within six months of their omnichannel shopping experience, these same customers were more likely to recommend the brand to family and friends and make 23% more in-store shopping trips than single-channel customers.
The data suggests familiarity breeds loyalty, so being omnipresent — and delivering a frictionless experience across every touchpoint — could help your brand land repeat business.
With so much competition in different product categories, the battle for attention is fierce online. Consumers now have so many companies and channels to choose from. However, with omnichannel ecommerce, your brand also has the opportunity to expand its digital presence and make its mark.
The key to standing out on the digital shelf is to make sure you tell a consistent, compelling story on every channel.
It should be clear what problem you can solve for your customers and what value you offer them. Customers should be able to understand the full range of your offerings — like curbside pickup or next-day delivery for items over a certain price point — whether they interact with your brand in store, on social, or on your website.
However, it’s also important to understand that omnichannel commerce doesn’t mean your brand has to be everywhere to enhance its visibility — just the channels that matter most to your customers.
If a platform like TikTok doesn’t make sense for your brand or you can’t allocate the time and resources to create compelling content for this visually-driven medium, then invest your resources in higher-impact channels that have already shown measurable results for your brand.
There may be time for experimentation and innovation later, but executing an effective omnichannel ecommerce strategy requires a data-driven focus and fine-tuning your plan as your customer insights evolve, so you can deliver engaging experiences that drive sales and greater customer retention and loyalty.
Watch our on-demand webinar, “Exec POV: How to Transition to a Digital-First Omnichannel Organization,” to learn how omnichannel commerce could help your brand drive innovation.
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