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.
Table of Contents
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.