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    Why an Omnichannel Retail Strategy Is Vital for Growth

    December 29, 2020
    8 minute read
    Why an Omnichannel Retail Strategy Is Vital for Growth

    Omnichannel commerce is quite literally "commerce everywhere," or in all the places your customers are found.

    Where historically an omnichannel commerce strategy might have meant considering multiple stores, a mail-order catalog, and phone orders, the advent of the digital shelf has changed the world of commerce.

    Between direct-to-consumer (D2C) sites, seamless in-store and online shopping experiences, and the continually expanding number of digital shopping options, brands must evolve to meet these new demands.

    Where Online and In-Person Retail Strategies Converge

    Marketing communications agency Wunderman Thompson says omnichannel commerce is “not just about giving your customers multiple ways to buy from you or using a myriad of marketing channels. Instead, it’s a fully integrated approach both offline and online that unifies everything, from merchandising to fulfillment, marketing, and marketplaces.”

    They note that 78% of retailers still don’t provide a truly unified experience for customers. Yet, an omnichannel commerce strategy is vital for growth.

    Omnichannel commerce strategies include the ability to sell online and offline, with both physical and digital presence, and must also:

    • Provide fulfillment and shipping options, such as home delivery and in-store shopping;
    • Handle exchange and refunds, both physically and digitally; and
    • Cater to customer experiences that extend across all of these touchpoints.

    Capitalize on BOPIS Growth

    One of the most significant growth areas for retailers in this pandemic year has been buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS). BOPIS is part of the next wave of ecommerce, and it's a growing tactic for shoppers, with 90% of brick-and-mortar retailers expected to offer the service by 2021.

    These click-and-collect options will account for 8.2% of U.S. ecommerce sales in 2020, according to eMarketer, with overall click-and-collect ecommerce sales jumping 60.4% to $58.52 billion in 2020.

    But BOPIS is also a tactic that requires careful handling, as by its very nature, it's a fragmented journey: Customers research online, browse and buy from a website, and then pick up from a store or location near to them. While it saves on shipping costs for the consumer, it requires careful logistics planning.

    Plan Beyond the Initial Sale

    A robust omnichannel commerce strategy also means carefully planning beyond the initial sale. It means looking at how to enable seamless returns from any channel to a different channel — buy online, but return in-store, or vice versa, as well as enhancing the customer’s product research opportunity before, during, and after purchase.

    It means ensuring the customer has access to a full range of products and information, both online and in-store, and the ability to move fluidly and often simultaneously between these channels to meet their needs.

    Core Benefits of an Omnichannel Commerce Strategy

    “A truly omnichannel operation that spans the customer life cycle will optimize revenue, deliver capital efficiencies such as cost savings, spawn operational efficiencies, and improve the customer experience overall,” wrote Forrester’s Michelle Beeson. “Leading retailers are building the supporting technology, skills, processes, and organizational structures to develop these capabilities, even if this journey is complex and requires heavy investment.”

    An omnichannel commerce strategy can deliver many benefits to an organization, including:

    • Personalized digital customer journeys: Enabling cookies within data protection regulation guidelines means you can track and personalize the consumer journey. Almost half (44%) of consumers say they will likely become repeat buyers after a personalized shopping experience.
    • Better customer data: Knowing the digital journeys your customers are taking helps you better understand their interests and pain points, which allows you to create products and strategies to serve their needs.
    • Increased conversions and more significant sales: Wolfgang Digital found the average order value was 199% higher for in-store sales that had been touched by an online session.
    • Improved customer loyalty: Making the customer feel more valued through personalization, being where they are, and knowing them better go to make the customer feel more valued and therefore improve loyalty.
    • Enhanced brand visibility: Being everywhere your customers are means your brand remains top of mind when it comes to consideration.

    How to Move Your Single-Channel Commerce Strategies to the Omnichannel World

    Remember that customers engage with organizations, not channels, and they will expect the same level of service and information wherever they find you.

    Because “customers believe they are engaging with one unified brand or organization, regardless of the device or touchpoints that they use, retailers must ensure the continuity of information and resources across digital and store touchpoints — or risk losing customers to competitors that do,” said Forrester’s Michelle Beeson.

    A robust omnichannel commerce strategy is then vital for growth in this era of uncertainty and increasing digitalization of the retail journey — and the customer now demands it.

    A single digital touchpoint can make or break your brand’s opportunity for consideration, purchase, or endorsement.

    But how do you ensure all of the various channels and elements of the customer journey are in harmony? How do you make that omnichannel world seamless from the customer’s point of view?

    Building your omnichannel commerce strategy around a commerce experience management (CommerceXM) platform empowers brands to win on the digital shelf. The Salsify CommerceXM platform is organized into three fully integrated components:

    • Product experience management (PXM): Create best-in-class commerce experiences with integrated product information (PIM), digital asset management (DAM), and experience builder.
    • Retailer/distribution selling: Syndicate in-store and online product experience across a brand's entire indirect selling ecosystem.
    • Marketplace and direct-to-consumer (D2C) selling: Manage direct commerce experiences across marketplaces, D2C brand sites, and social commerce channels with order and inventory listing exchange in the same platform as a brand's product content data.

    Watch our on-demand webinar, "The Era of Omni-Commerce: New Insights for Dominating the Digital Shelf and Beyond," to learn more about the importance of omnichannel commerce.


    Written by: Lauren McMenemy

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