In today’s digital age, both retailers and shoppers are no longer restricted to a single channel when it comes to making a purchase. Omnichannel retail makes the most of this freedom by allowing customers to make purchases at any step of the shopping journey and heightening the customer experience.
Suppose you’re interested in implementing an omnichannel retail strategy but have no idea where to begin. In that case, we’ll discuss the main points you need to know in this article, such as what “the omnichannel” and omnichannel retail is, why it’s beneficial to companies, and what you can find in the omnichannel, and how you can enter and explore the omnichannel.
What is the Omnichannel?
The omnichannel, at times called the omni-channel, is a business model. The term combines the suffix “Omni,” meaning “all,” with the word channel. When implemented correctly, an omnichannel strategy takes full advantage of how you can receive services through both online and offline channels. The omnichannel customer experience emphasizes seamlessness — a purchase can be made at any step of the customer journey.
For example, imagine your customer saw an online ad for your business that piqued their interest. Then, when they come across your physical store, they decide to go in and experience your product for themselves or learn more about your services. Now, if your business has an omnichannel approach, your customer is free to buy whenever they’re ready. They can either commit and make the purchase in-store or go home and make a purchase on your online platform.
It doesn’t matter if they start from virtual and move to physical, or start from physical and move to virtual — they have the same purchase decisions available to them regardless. They can hop, skip, and jump across different channels without being locked out.
Omnichannel vs. Multichannel
Multichannel, with the suffix “multi” meaning “many,” is a term often confused with omnichannel. They handle multiple channels, but an essential distinction is that an omnichannel strategy shares data between channels. Omnichannel is built on multiple promotions and distribution methods working in tandem — websites, physical stores, mobile apps, and social media. Customers are allowed to reach out however they want, whenever they want.
In contrast, a multichannel approach may allow you to purchase through multiple channels, but only if you began on that channel initially. For example, say you sign up for a business’ product demo online. The next day, you realize that you have free time to drive to their physical location. You make the trip, but once you’re there, you realize that you must go through the sign-up process again because they keep their website separate from their store.
What Is Omnichannel Retail?
Omnichannel retail revolves around creating a seamless shopping experience. Customers can transact across multiple channels, such as business websites, online marketplaces (e.g., Amazon, eBay), social channels (e.g., TikTok Shopping, Instagram Shopping, Facebook Marketplace), and brick-and-mortar stores. Customers can shop through whatever medium they prefer, be it desktop computers, hand-held mobile devices, or face-to-face interaction.
Omnichannel retailing combines the best of both online and offline retailing — you can offer products to customers outside your immediate geographic area while preserving the unique brand experience you’ve created in your physical store. Customers don’t have to feel like they’re missing out when they pick one channel over another.
Why an Omnichannel Retail Strategy Is Beneficial for Businesses
The advent of COVID-19 significantly impacted the way customers and businesses interact with each other. When the lockdowns and restrictions were put in place, there was little incentive for people to go outside, prompting many companies to adapt and invest in an eCommerce shop. 46% of retail executives said that COVID-19 prompted them to increase their investment in omnichannel retailing moving forward instead of their plans before the pandemic.
Here are some of the main benefits of investing in omnichannel retail:
Convenience = Customer Satisfaction
The omnichannel retail experience allows consumers to meet you on their own terms. Today, the multitude of digital channels available means that the customer journey is no longer as linear as it once was. People discover and interact with brands and products in a million and one way. A particular customer could see your ad on Facebook, check out a product review on YouTube, compare prices to similar products on Amazon, and then visit your brick-and-mortar store to test the product. At every stage of this customer journey, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to move through the consideration and purchase process. In the post-pandemic world, convenience is the name of the game: 83% of consumers say that convenience is more important to them now than five years ago.
Stand Out From Competitors
At any given moment, hundreds of direct and indirect competitors are vying for your customer’s attention. A sound omnichannel retail strategy can be an edge over the competition, offering customers a unified brand experience, an improved shopping experience, and outstanding customer service. As convenient as online shopping is, many people are still hesitant to leave the traditional experience of brick and mortar stores, especially with how COVID forced many into staying at home and reshaping their previous shopping habits.
A successful pivot to omnichannel retailing can make your existing customer base happier and draw in new omnichannel shoppers.
Take Advantage of Analytics
Successfully weaving together your marketing and sales channels to create a cohesive omnichannel framework can be tricky, but the improved data at your fingertips is a massive boost. Viewing data across multiple channels allows you to examine where your marketing and distribution efforts are excelling and where they’re falling flat — do most of your sales come through your physical stores or your online stores? What ads are getting customers to click through to your website? Through what channel do they engage with your business the most?
Knowing tidbits like this can help you build better strategies for the future. You can focus on the practices or areas that net you the most sales while updating the other channels to better conform to consumer expectations.
Personalize the Customer Experience
No one likes feeling like they’re being sold to. What most people like, however, is feeling like you’re catering to them. A survey saw 74% of respondents saying they liked the idea of shopping websites curated for their personal interests.
One of the worst things you can do to a prospective customer is to make them feel like they’re a dime-a-dozen stranger and you only want their money. Personalized experiences can make customers feel valued and special, increasing their customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Omnichannel retail allows you to step up your game by collecting data from various user touchpoints, gaining greater insight into individual customers. This lets you offer a shopping experience that’s not only convenient but also personalized, flexible, and transparent.
Challenges Faced by Businesses Going Into Omnichannel Retailing
It’s important to note that as beneficial as omnichannel retail is, it’s not something you can casually implement. When implemented correctly, omnichannel retail gives customers the ultimate convenience. This requires good data management (of both customer data and inventory data) and a complex, flexible supply chain that can quickly meet demands across websites, stores, social media, and mobile apps (e.g., purely online shopping, buying online with an in-store pick-up, delivery lockers, etc.). Even if you offer omnichannel retail, customers will quickly move to another store if it takes you too long to fulfill your orders.
When implemented poorly, the omnichannel shopping experience your customers will face will likely be confusing, slow, and frustrating — imagine looking for something you saw in a physical location that turns out to be out-of-stock online or getting your order mixed up with someone else’s because you entered similar names on two different channels.
What Can You Find in the Omnichannel?
Omnichannel retail can be used for just about anything under the sun. Clothes, jewelry, makeup, shows, technology — you name it!
Here are some examples of real-world businesses that use omnichannel retail to their advantage:
- Disney Parks — Disney has to keep up a reputation for being “Where Dreams Come True,” and their omnichannel strategy helps with that. Their main website and their trip-planning website are pleasantly responsive on both desktop and mobile. After booking a trip, guests can use the My Disney Experience tool to plan their entire trip, including details like where to eat and where to secure passes. Once they’re in the park, they can use the mobile app to navigate the park and check wait times for the attractions they want to visit.
- Starbucks — The Starbucks rewards app performs incredibly well when it comes to enhancing the customer experience. The app gives customers a free rewards card to use whenever they buy something. What makes it stand out is the ability to check and reload the card via a mobile device, the Starbucks website, in-store, or on the app. Any changes made get uploaded to multiple channels in real-time.
- Timberland — Timberland enhances customers’ in-store shopping experience with the help of omnichannel retailing. When customers walk into a brick-and-mortar location, they’ll receive a tablet that they can press against products and signage that will give them information about that specific product or offer. In addition to making shopping more convenient for customers, the software on the tablet also personalizes their experience and makes product suggestions based on the items they’ve checked out. Timberland accomplishes this by using near-field communication technology, a software used by many data transfer tools (e.g., Apple Pay).
How Do You Enter the Omnichannel?
In keeping with the spirit of encompassing as many channels as possible, there are no restrictions on how you can enter the omnichannel. Customers can take part in the omnichannel retail experience through their desktop computers, mobile phones, iPads, or on their own two feet in a physical store — including pop-up stores and shop-in-a-box or shop-in-shop experiences.
Why? You want to honor the user journey and consumer experience. As an omnichannel retailer, it’s your responsibility to provide customers with a fun and quick way to purchase and shop, allowing them the freedom to flip through sales channels until they’re ready to close the deal.
Start Building a Custom Brand Experience With Felbro Displays
With the recent focus on online shopping, it’s important to remember that your physical stores are integral to omnichannel retailing — there’s nothing quite like an in-person experience. At Felbro Displays, we specialize in designing and manufacturing custom point-of-purchase displays for clients that want to increase their sell-through and enhance their branding. With over 75 years of experience under our belts, you can trust our expertise, skill, and commitment to quality — all our displays are designed, engineered, and manufactured under a single roof.
Fill out our contact form or give us a call at (800) 7-FELBRO to connect with our team and learn more about how we can ensure your customers have an unforgettable experience the moment they walk through the door.