Traditional sales strategies such as single-channel and multichannel have their benefits, but an omnichannel e-commerce strategy brings much more to the table
- Omnichannel helps connect the dots between the online and offline shopping experience
- Overall, 73% of customers use multiple channels during their purchase journey
- To successfully adopt an omnichannel e-commerce approach, brands must follow a 4-step strategy
What is omnichannel e-commerce?
Omnichannel e-commerce is a multichannel sales approach that aims to provide a seamless customer experience, irrespective of whether the customer is shopping online or in a physical store. Single-channel commerce sells through one sales channel, such as a store, website, or app. On the other hand, multichannel commerce simultaneously sells through multiple channels by combining both online and offline modes. Omnichannel helps us connect the dots between all these channels. “Ultimately, customers don’t care about what channel they’re shopping in about how we deliver them a product or service,” says Walmart CEO, Doug Mcmillon. “They simply know they're shopping with Walmart.” Most of the time, customers research a product online and then buy it from a store. With B2C, this represents 44% of such buyers, whereas for B2B, this figure stands at 58%. Overall, 73% of customers use multiple channels during their purchase journey, creating a need for connecting online and offline sales channels. This is where omnichannel comes in.
What are the benefits of omnichannel e-commerce?
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we’re the hosts. It’s our everyday job to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little better.” Jeff Bezos, Amazon
Some of the benefits of an omnichannel e-commerce strategy include;
Enhanced customer experience
Omnichannel improves the customer experience by establishing a seamless connection between communication methods. Businesses need effortless integration between multiple touchpoints, be it a social media ad, newsletter, or app notification. Omnichannel e-commerce helps them to do that by breaking down the walls between business channels.
Personalized customer journey
By connecting online and offline sales channels, brands can easily collect customer data from multiple channels and use it to draw a full picture of their customer demographic, i.e., who they are, where they live, their buyer behavior, habits, and shopping history etc. It gives businesses a lot of scope to personalize their customer journeys.
Creating an omnichannel e-commerce strategy takes a lot of effort, but this is worth the time and money since omnichannel customers are likely to spend more compared to single-channel buyers. Customers using four or more channels spend on average of 9% more than those using a single channel.
How to implement an omnichannel e-commerce strategy
- Know your customer: Research your target audience's behavior, interests, and needs — don’t assume anything. You can do this by running survey forms, asking them questions, and inviting customers to leave their feedback. Also, pick the right channels to identify their location and needs.
- Establish clear goals for each channel: You can dedicate one channel, such as Instagram, for interacting with your customers. Other channels can be used to give buyers product updates and so on.
- Connect all channels: This is one of the trickiest parts, but having the right technology to stay connected with your customers across all touchpoints can make the task easier. From leaving reviews on your website to engaging with your social media ads, window shopping, and finally purchasing at your store, customers must feel acknowledged at all times.
- Maintain your channels: Connecting your online and offline sales channels is an active process. You constantly need to test and improve your strategy. Documenting all touchpoints can help serve your customers better since it allows you to create a loyal customer base.
Leading companies that have successfully embraced the omnichannel strategy
Apple has used omnichannel e-commerce strategies to ensure that its mobile app, website, and physical stores feed into each other to enhance sales. For instance, you can use its mobile app to book a support appointment at a Genius Bar in an Apple store near you. Similarly, if you order an Apple product online and want to collect it from the store, you will receive an alert when you are near the store. It also provides you with the relevant order information you can present to a sales assistant.
Staples, an American retail company, was struggling to automate the task of merchandising the relevant products its customers were looking for. Its legacy system overlooked online customer behavior, which further added to the complexity of the process. With an omnichannel e-commerce strategy, Staples increased its stock-keeping units by a factor of ten, helping it become a global B2B one-stop shop for businesses worldwide.
Brands like Clinique, John Lewis, and Starbucks have also used this strategy to gain an edge over their competitors. All sales strategies have their own unique benefits, but an omnichannel e-commerce strategy brings more to the table. It not only combines all modes of sales channels, but also helps improve customer experience and retention, making it an ideal choice for businesses looking to boost their sales and revenue figures.