Omnichannel commerce: how to implement an omnichannel approach in your e-commerce business

How many devices do you own in this current moment? Are you reading this on your smartphone, your tablet, or on your computer? The reason we ask is to make you reflect on how integrated today’s technology has become in our every-day lives. 

With multiple devices and channels available within an arm’s reach, consumers are jumping between channels in an unprecedented fashion – and online and offline experiences are rapidly converging into one.  

Moreover, as your customers switch between devices, their demands increase at a faster rate than ever before. It's no longer enough to create a great mobile experience, or a seamless website visit. Rather, you need to offer an omnichannel experience. 

Omnichannel is not a recent phenomenon – it’s a buzzword within sales and marketing, but what does it actually mean and how can you implement an omnichannel approach to your e-commerce store? 

Omnichannel commerce is the seamless integration of brick-and-mortar and online stores and focuses on meeting the customer wherever they are. The State of Commerce Experience 2021 shows that almost half of B2C buyers and 58% of B2B buyers say they either always or often research a product online before visiting a physical store. Even when in-store, they will still go online to continue their research. 

Multichannel vs. Omnichannel 

If you’ve heard the term omnichannel, you’ve probably heard the terms single channel and multichannel as well.  

Single channel commerce means only selling your product through one sales channel, such as a physical store.  

Multichannel commerce is selling your products in multiple channels, both online and offline.  

Like multichannel commerce, omnichannel commerce sells your product in various channels. However, omnichannel goes one step further and connects all your channels, giving your customer a seamless experience across all platforms. The biggest difference between the two is that a multichannel approach focuses on the product, whereas an omnichannel approach focuses on the customer. 

infographic showing the difference between multichannel and omnichannel commerce

Did you know? Nearly 90% of retail leaders believe that business success is dependent on a seamless experience, and research shows that customers spend 15-30% more when retailers facilitate an omnichannel strategy, rather than a multichannel strategy. 

Ready to transform your e-commerce store using an omnichannel strategy? Book a meeting with one of our expert consultants now! 

Omnichannel alignment 

Brick and mortar stores were traditionally a primary sales channel, but not anymore. Customers now have the option to shop from the comfort of their phones and laptops as well as on social media platforms such as Instagram or Pinterest. As the number of touchpoints is increasing, so is the need for seamless integration of such touchpoints. Customers can interact with your business via a social ad, e-mail newsletter, online chatbot, or in-person in your store. Make sure to align your branding and messaging across all channels to provide a consistent customer experience.  

infographic displaying omnichannel alignment

Did you know? Whilst 71% of customers say that they want the same experience on all channels, only 29% of customers are reported to be receiving it. 

Offering your product on various channels can cause conflicts if your online and offline teams are not aligned. Basic product features, such as the price of an item, must be consistent across all channels. If, for example, a customer comes into your store to buy a product and finds that it’s out of stock, chances are they will want to find out if it’s available online. If your online and offline stores are not aligned, you may not be able to answer the customer’s question which could result in you losing the sale. 

Innovation is Imperative  

Omnichannel strategy pushes industries into innovation. The pandemic has forced businesses to think outside of the box (and think faster than their competitors). Grocery stores, for example, are being challenged by delivery services such as Gorillas and Getir, as well as recipe box providers like Hello Fresh. Customers have become accustomed to this omnichannel approach to grocery shopping and as a result, many traditional brick and mortar grocery stores are trying out delivery and click-and-collect services of their own to stay competitive.  

Steps to building an omnichannel strategy 

Know where your customers are 

An omnichannel strategy doesn’t need to encompass every platform or channel there is; rather, your omnichannel approach should focus on where your customers are. Remember to consult your buyer personas to determine which channels are best for your omnichannel campaign.  

Does your brand market to Gen Z? If it does, make sure that you are keeping active on Instagram and other social media platforms to be seen by this audience.  

Map the customer journey 

As you develop your omnichannel strategy, try to map your customer’s journey from one platform to the next to ensure that you do not leave any gaps. Click here to learn more about customer journey mapping. 

Provide cross-channel customer support 

There's always another shop just a Google search away, and the slightest pain point your customer experiences on your website can make them go somewhere else. In this way, it’s important to provide customer support as it builds upon the customer journey. Ensure that your brand can handle customer support on multiple channels, such as email support and social media messaging. 

infographic showing a checklist for developing an omnichannel strategy

Omnichannel checklist 

Once you’ve developed your omnichannel strategy, make sure to include the following components: 

Responsive site 

A solid omnichannel strategy requires an abundance of effort from your IT department. Because omnichannel marries online and offline channels, your website needs to be optimised for different devices, especially mobile.  

Updated inventory 

To ensure seamless integration, your stock inventory needs to constantly updated on all channels. If something is showing as in-stock online, but the customer later receives an e-mail that the item they ordered is out of stock, you will lose their trust and ultimately their business.  

Click & collect 

In line with keeping your inventory updated, your webshop should offer a click-and-collect service. Did you know that 50% of consumers expect to buy online and be able to pick up in-store? This said,  customers will expect to  use online and offline channels seamlessly to place an order online and collect it in your physical store.  

Call to action 

A call to action (CTA) should be included in all areas where you interact with the customer. However, be reminded that CTAs should only link to relevant pages or else you could risk frustrating your users and losing a conversion. 

 

Customers expect an omnichannel approach, and if your e-commerce store doesn’t offer this then your competitors’ will. If you’re ready to take a customer-focused approach and create seamless integration between your sales channels, contact us today.