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Omnichannel: A Simple Guide

Omnichannel strategies can significantly increase the rate of incremental store visits, with some studies reporting an 80% higher visitation.

Imagine placing an order online and picking it up in-store without initiating a new buying process. 

Excellent and convenient, right? 

Businesses are using omnichannel strategies for a seamless shopping experience across platforms. Google reports companies using this retail strategy get 80% more visitors.

Want to reap those benefits, too? This article will discuss omnichannel strategies and what to expect from this approach.

What is Omnichannel?

Omnichannel aims to connect your sales and marketing channels to provide an improved customer experience. In practice, that might mean what we saw a while ago: purchasing a product online and picking it up from the local store. It also ensures the marketing campaigns you run across various channels are connected.

For an effective omnichannel strategy, there should be back-end integration among communication, promotion, and distribution channels. These channels must be customer-centric and accessible. 

Omnichannel vs. Multichannel

The difference between omnichannel and multichannel strategies is their synchronization and approach. 

In multichannel marketing, businesses engage customers on different platforms, such as websites, social networks, and in-store displays. But rather than integrating their operations, multichannel interactions silo them into separate channels. Hence, the messaging may need to be more consistent. So, if a customer buys from a brand’s store and signs up for its email list, the first email they receive from the brand will have nothing to do with what they just bought. The customer will feel the email and store sales teams never talked.

Hence, as a service-driven sector, omnichannel becomes a necessity. Imagine you are managing a tour business; it makes sense to reach out to the targeted audience based on their preferred channels and provide the information that would cater to and excite them even more.

A simple guide to omnichannel marketing.

What is omnichannel? An omnichannel experience, on the other hand, integrates the customer experience across various communication channels, from product discovery to purchase and even after-sales customer support. 

Let’s take the Starbucks example to illustrate.

Once a customer creates a Starbucks rewards program account, they receive a free drink offer via email. That free drink offer is based on products the same digitally registered customer bought in the past. They can avail of the free drink offer in Starbucks stores. If they buy something else, they can earn Starbucks points, which allows them to help with other incentives in-store–like an upsized drink—once they accumulate a certain number of issues. See how everything is connected?

Omnichannel and multichannel strategies have one similarity. They both use various channels to attract, keep and please prospective customers—however, only omnichannel results in a consistent and seamless customer experience.

Of course, you shouldn’t just rely on your omnichannel strategy to ensure business growth. Leverage other systems like excellent PR services and SEO for the best results. With PR, you can manage your brand reputation so people will interact with your brand in the first place. Meanwhile, SEO helps you strengthen your online presence so potential customers can easily find you.

Benefits of Adopting an Omnichannel Approach

Because of the smooth, consistent customer and brand experience omnichannel strategies create, companies can yield these other benefits:

1. Improved Customer’s Trust

A staggering 42% of customers say a seamless experience across all devices and channels is a “top expectation.” So, you can win many customers over with omnichannel tactics like consistent messaging.

2. Increase in Revenue 

Here's a scenario: a prospect inquires about your product price online. Then they proceed to visit the physical store but get completely different information. What do you think happens? They get discouraged and end up not buying, for starters. And you lose money.

But, with a consistent brand experience, that's unlikely to happen. You'll win the prospect’s trust and bring them closer to being loyal customers.

Also, your team can pitch a sale better since they have the prospect's details in a central database. This makes outreach easy as your team fully understands initial interactions.

All that results in increased revenue for your brand.

3. Wider Audience 

With an omnichannel strategy in place, it becomes easy to reach your customers. Why? Because you use multiple channels—from your physical store to your online channels like your website and online community platform. The unified media also makes it easier for customers to find you than using just a single platform.

4. Increased Operational Efficiency

An omnichannel strategy reduces the need to collect customer data at every touchpoint. It collates customer data into a central database. That reduces friction and improves access to customer data. It ultimately leads to an efficient sales process. 

Regardless of industry, a well-defined omnichannel strategy gives you an edge over competitors. Plus, omnichannel strategies aren’t so complex to implement. Just create customer journey maps for your audience segments. They will help you visualize customer interactions with your brand at every touchpoint. As a result, you can easily connect the gaps between touchpoints. 

For instance, you can connect your Facebook account with your website through integrations that allow customers to shop directly from the platform. You can also link your email and website using email automation apps. However, please verify email addresses before setting your automated workflows based on website actions. You'd like to make sure the computerized emails reach your intended recipients.

Also, don’t forget to choose omnichannel marketing software that will allow you to manage your entire marketing strategy on a single platform.

Trends in Omnichannel Strategy

Would you be ready to grow your business with omnichannel? Here are omnichannel trends to keep in mind as you implement your omnichannel strategy:

1. Virtual Shopping

Virtual shopping allows customers to browse and shop for products online just as they would in a brick-and-mortar store. The result is an experience that merges the online and physical worlds.

Salvatore Ferragamo’s “House of Gifts” is an excellent example. The brand created its virtual store that mimics its brick-and-mortar stores. Guests can explore and get a 360-degree close-up look at items like handbags, watches, and shoes in the 3D environment, just like in a physical store. 

Potential customers can also interact with a client advisor on duty in a brick-and-mortar store via chat, call, or video call.

A simple guide featuring a room with a clock and a watch.

Potential customers may add their chosen online products to their online cart for delivery. Or they may include them on a wishlist they can share via WhatsApp or email to friends. For a seamless experience, the landing page must be easy to navigate so customers can easily find what they want. You can look for various landing page builders to help create that experience for your customers. Another option is for them to order the item online and pick it up themselves from their selected brick-and-mortar store. We’ll talk more about this omnichannel supply chain strategy in the next section.

2. Supply Chain

Omnichannel supply chains enable you to monitor customer interactions across all channels. The result is that you can make data-driven decisions regarding logistics and inventory. 

For instance, if you find many of your customers who live in Indiana buy the same product online, you can ensure a supply in your store in Indiana. So, the next time they purchase, the product they buy can reach them as soon as possible. You also reduce logistics costs.

Best Buy gets this omnichannel strategy well. 

The retail chain doesn’t just use its physical stores to facilitate in-store shopping and product demonstrations. It also uses them as distribution centers. Customers can pick something up in their preferred store when they buy it online. According to Best Buy, many pickup points are just 15 minutes away from the customer’s residence thanks to its omnichannel supply chain strategy. Due to their streamlined supply chain processes, online shoppers can also pick up their purchased items on the same day. 

3. Omnichannel Chatbots

Chatbots are virtual AI conversational agents that interact with customers across digital channels. They use natural language processing, AI, and machine learning to learn from past interactions. 

You can use them to deliver an omnichannel experience as well. Some chatbots can use stored information to provide real-time, personalized customer experiences across different platforms. That allows customers to hop through channels without starting the conversation with the brand from scratch.

FirstJob’s Mya is an excellent example of an omnichannel chatbot. The company's chatbot manages candidate pools and gives personalized consultations across different platforms, from email and Facebook Messenger to Skype and SMS.

A simple guide to understanding omnichannel communication featuring a screenshot of a conversation between two people.

So, if a candidate sends their resume via email but reaches out to follow up via Facebook another time, Mya doesn’t have to be explained. The chatbot can pick up the conversation where they left off.

In Closing

What is omnichannel? It’s a strategy brands use to ensure a seamless and consistent customer experience across several platforms. Omnichannel strategies ultimately improve engagement, sales, customer retention, and loyalty.

In other words, there’s ample room to scale your business going the omnichannel route. Just have a strategic plan in place to align customer experience across platforms. 

Leverage the omnichannel trends I mentioned in this article, too. Whether it’s virtual shopping, chatbots, or a supply chain omnichannel strategy you opt for (or all of them), expect excellent results.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an omnichannel strategy?
An omnichannel strategy is a sales and marketing approach that integrates various channels to provide a seamless and unified customer experience.

How does an omnichannel strategy differ from a multichannel strategy?
While both strategies involve using multiple channels to engage customers, an omnichannel approach ensures a seamless and integrated customer experience across all touchpoints. In contrast, a multichannel strategy often results in siloed operations and inconsistent messaging.

What are the benefits of an omnichannel strategy?
An omnichannel strategy can improve customer trust, increase revenue, reach a wider audience, and increase operational efficiency.

What are some current trends in omnichannel strategies?
Current trends include virtual shopping, omnichannel supply chains, and omnichannel chatbots.

How can an omnichannel strategy boost business growth?
Businesses can build trust, increase revenue, and gain a competitive edge by ensuring a seamless and consistent customer journey across various platforms.

What is virtual shopping in an omnichannel strategy?
Virtual shopping in an omnichannel strategy allows customers to browse and shop for products online in a manner that closely mimics the experience of shopping in a physical store.

What is an omnichannel supply chain?
An omnichannel supply chain enables businesses to monitor customer interactions across all channels, allowing them to make data-driven decisions regarding logistics and inventory.

What are omnichannel chatbots?
Omnichannel chatbots are AI-powered agents that deliver personalized customer experiences across different platforms. They use stored information to carry on conversations with customers across various channels without starting from scratch each time.

How does an omnichannel strategy improve customer trust?
An omnichannel strategy improves customer trust by providing a seamless and consistent experience across all devices and channels. This meets the top expectation of 42% of customers.

How does an omnichannel strategy increase revenue?
An omnichannel strategy increases revenue by providing consistent brand messaging and a centralized database of customer details, which allows businesses to pitch sales and convert prospects into loyal customers effectively.

How does an omnichannel strategy reach a wider audience?
An omnichannel strategy reaches a broader audience using multiple channels, from physical stores to online platforms like websites and community platforms. This makes it easier for customers to find the business.

How does an omnichannel strategy increase operational efficiency?
An omnichannel strategy increases operational efficiency by reducing the need to collect customer data at every touchpoint. It collates customer data into a central database, reducing friction and improving customer data access, leading to an efficient sales process.

What is the role of virtual shopping in an omnichannel strategy?
In an omnichannel strategy, virtual shopping merges the online and physical shopping experiences. Brands create virtual stores that mimic their physical counterparts, allowing customers to explore products in a 3D environment.

How does an omnichannel supply chain work?
An omnichannel supply chain enables businesses to monitor customer interactions across all channels. This allows them to make data-driven decisions regarding logistics and inventory, ensuring that products are available where and when customers need them.

What is the role of chatbots in an omnichannel strategy?
In an omnichannel strategy, chatbots deliver personalized customer experiences across different platforms. They use stored information to carry on conversations with customers across various channels without starting from scratch each time.

What is the future of omnichannel strategies?
The future of omnichannel strategies lies in further integrating various sales and marketing channels to provide an even more seamless and unified customer experience. This includes the continued use of virtual shopping, omnichannel supply chains, and chatbots.

How can businesses stay ahead in the omnichannel game?
Businesses can stay ahead in the omnichannel game by adopting current trends, such as virtual shopping and omnichannel supply chains, and using chatbots for personalized customer interactions.

How can an omnichannel strategy enhance the customer experience?
An omnichannel strategy enhances the customer experience by providing a seamless and consistent journey across various platforms. This builds trust, increases customer satisfaction, and boosts brand loyalty.

How can an omnichannel strategy boost brand loyalty?
An omnichannel strategy boosts brand loyalty by providing a seamless and consistent customer experience across all touchpoints. This meets customer expectations and increases their trust in the brand, making them more likely to remain loyal.

What are the critical components of a successful omnichannel strategy?
The critical components of a successful omnichannel strategy include a seamless integration of various sales and marketing channels, consistent brand messaging, a centralized database of customer details, and current trends such as virtual shopping and omnichannel supply chains.

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