What is Omnichannel Retail? Your 2022 Business Strategy
When you think of omnichannel retail, the first brands to come to mind are Target, Alibaba, and Best Buy. This term is often associated with large brands and mass merchants, but it doesn’t need to be.
Sephora, Amazon, Walmart and Amazon may be the most prominent early adopters, achieving remarkable feats such as record store pickups, record sales following a viral TikTok or loyalty-boosting apps. Omnichannel retail is achievable for small to mid-sized brands, and it’s just as important to future success.
You can turn your online shop into an Omnichannel Hub with strategic planning and focus.
It is important to understand:
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What is Omnichannel Retail?
Whether defined as omnichannel retail, or omnichannel commerce–or hyphenated as ‘omni-channel’–omnichannel proves to be a term that garners a range of definitions. is a real-estate services and investment firm that works in the retail sector. It defines it as “retailers, consumers, and those who combine multiple channels to sell, buy, and deliver goods.”
Bloomreach, a commerce cloud provider, digs a little deeper, pointing out the proliferation in devices and interfaces that has propelled the business model. TM Forum describes omnichannel being the reinforcement and consistency of‘s brand.
This is what omnichannel commerce really is about: your customers.
If you are looking for a simple definition of Omnichannel Retail, this is it: Omnichannel retail refers to the unification of all sales channels to create seamless customer experiences. Omnichannel is not just about the jargon. It’s also about the journey. Omnichannel is another way to say “customer-first”.
A sample of omnichannel commerce
Your hands are dry and chapped in the middle of winter. You need a new lotion and you want one that is both sustainable and non-greasy. Your phone searches for Brand X and it appears to tick all the boxes.
Whole Foods in your area sells brand X products.
You love the scents and the design of the packaging. However, the store does not carry winter moisturizing products from Brand X.
A few days later, you see an Instagram story that promotes the organic lavender farm from which Brand X’s ingredients were sourced. You recall liking the products and how they look. You are offered a 10% discount code at the end of the story. So you go back to the eCommerce website on your laptop and place an order for the moisturizing kit. For an additional discount and future rewards, you can sign up for the loyalty program. In a matter of days, the kit will be delivered to your house.
You will receive an email invitation to review the product. This will give you additional loyalty points. At the end of each month, you will also receive an SMS coupon for more lotion. Make a second purchase. Print the return label for the used bottles and mention Brand X when you are talking to friends looking for gift ideas.
Omnichannel retail is possible for independent ecommerce merchants, not just eCommerce giants. Connecting the omnichannel dots requires that you get to know your customers, prioritize delivery of products on their preferred digital and physical touchpoints, and be able to communicate with them.
Omnichannel vs. multichannel
One reason people hesitate to use Omnichannel Retail is that it can be difficult to define exactly what it means.
- Omnichannel retail, as it is commonly known, is the practice of offering a seamless, coordinated shopping experience to consumers, regardless of where they shop or how they interact with brands. Omnichannel retail, at its broadest, affects the way retailers conduct sales, marketing, fulfillment and merchandising both in-store and online.
- Multi-channel retail is another term used to describe retailers that offer a variety of online and physical products. However, these efforts are not always integrated or inter-operational. An example: A retailer who has an eCommerce site that fulfills orders from a warehouse but shares only a name with stores is technically operating in two channels but is not leveraging the synergizing benefits between them.
- “Single channel retailer” is an almost-dead term that describes brands that operate only via websites or physical stores. Not only do store brands have to launch websites to meet changing consumer expectations, but in recent years “pure play” online retailers such as Warby Parker and Amazon have opened physical stores to complement their online offerings.
The Omnichannel Customer Experience
Because consumers are increasingly demanding it, retailers large and small expand and integrate their capabilities across the digital/physical divide.
Shoppers don’t care about channel boundaries. Shoppers expect consistency regardless of touchpoint, recognition of themselves as individuals, consistent behavior, easy-to-use experiences, and recollection about past purchases and interactions.
This expectation of integrated retail affects every stage in the shopping experience.
- Consumers rely on the internet to find information before they make a purchase. This is regardless of where they made it. Fully 59 per cent consumers search for items online before visiting stores. 46 percent of consumers check online to see if items are available.
- Fully 71% of Internet users expect a personalized experience. This means that the brand will be able to reflect their preferences and past interactions through personalized recommendations and targeted promotions. 76% of consumers are frustrated when brands fail to deliver a personalized experience.
- Store purchases are back when it comes to completing their transactions. But digital is almost as common. 82% of U.S. shoppers have returned to shopping while 78% shop online. 36% of shoppers report that they purchase items digitally on their smartphones every day or weekly.
- Many retailers received a crash course on fulfillment during the pandemic. This had a lasting impact on consumer expectations. Nine out of ten consumers now expect their shipments to arrive in two to three days. However, fulfillment from stores is increasingly appealing: 38% now pick up online orders in-store, up 13 percent from before the pandemic.
- Customers expect brands to keep in touch with them after placing an order. 58 percent of respondents expect follow-up messages after purchase. As a result, 78 percent of customers are more likely to buy again from retailers that show interest in establishing a long-term relationship with them through personalized messaging.
Consumers expect to have a consistent, personal relationship with brands that makes it easier for them to find, buy, and receive the products they need.
6 Omnichannel retail benefits for merchants
Although it is difficult to meet these high expectations, merchants can reap substantial rewards from omnichannel shopping. They can deliver the experience shoppers desire, reduce operational costs and increase sales to position themselves for agility and transparency that the future requires.
01. Consistency builds trust, and sales is more likely to be achieved.
Omnichannel retail is a way to standardize merchant offerings across touchpoints. Omnichannel retail ensures that discounts do not clash and provides a consistent digital experience across all touchpoints. If shoppers are able to predict what to expect using their mobile phones, laptops, or store signage, they will be more likely to trust the brand and make purchases. Businesses that embrace usable design have been proven to generate 32 percent more revenue and brand consistency increases revenue 10 to 20%.
02. One brand voice is distinctive
Consumers are drawn to brands that have a unique identity. Retailers that coordinate marketing and merchandise across touchpoints have the opportunity to refine their brand voice.
03. Personalized experiences drive revenue
Consumers say that 76 percent will buy from brands that offer personalized experiences across touchpoints. However, 78 percent also prefer to recommend these brands to others. Omnichannel retailers have valuable word-of mouth credibility.
McKinsey reports that leading brands make 40% more revenue through effective personalization than lower-performing brands.
04. Integrations enable fulfillment efficiencies
Retailers face challenges from rising fees from major last mile carriers, high courier-style delivery costs, and complications from repurposing store space. However, integrating back-end inventory management and order management systems can improve efficiency and speed up the process.
Additionally, more than 85 percent of shoppers who visit stores to order online end up making an unplanned purchase. This helps retailers win additional business. Also, store-based fulfillment services make the best use of the merchandise in stock, which reduces the possibility of having stale inventory.
05. Unified operations are a key to sustainability
Omnichannel retail can not only meet the expectations of shoppers for convenience and personalization, but it can also set the stage for new sustainability initiatives like resale of used products and reuse of packaging. Brands are being asked to be more proactive in tackling climate change. shoppers are four-times more likely to purchase from brands who are addressing it.
06. Omnichannel retail yields holistic data insights
Retailers can connect touchpoints with back-end operations to better understand customer journeys, identify opportunities for improvement and invest more in projects that work well.
How to create an Omnichannel Retail Strategy
Omnichannel retail is becoming the norm for consumers and offers many potential benefits for merchants. Retailers should be strategic and thoughtful in their implementation, given the complexity of Omnichannel retail.
Who hasn’t had a frustrating store pickup experience, or received an off-base targeted email?
These mistakes can make brands less memorable and have negative effects on the bottom line. After a few bad experiences, nearly 6 out 10 U.S. customers will abandon brands. After one , 17 percent of will stop interacting with brands.
These pitfalls can be avoided by eCommerce merchants who carefully select and scale their omnichannel offerings. Here are some tips.
- Get to know your customers’ journey
- Standardize basic selling instruments
- Select the right mix of marketing
- Optimize for Crossover Fulfillment Efficiency
- Use big players to fill the gaps
- Measure the results
01. Get to know your customers and their journeys
Omnichannel retail touches so many parts of a business, that sellers often don’t know where they should start. They have reliable support in determining priorities, thanks to their customers.
Retailers can identify the shopping habits of their target audience and adopt omnichannel strategies to connect their digital touchpoints with their physical stores.
eCommerce merchants must have a minimum of knowledge to understand the customer journey.
- What their customers prefer to learn about offers and products
- Which devices and which online/offline resources can they access for conducting research?
- Which payment methods are most popular?
- Fulfillment is about achieving your goals quickly, easily, and without compromising on other priorities.
- Where else can audiences meet and shop?
- What motivates customers to re-engage?
This information is crucial for assigning priority to omnichannel retail implementation. Asking customers for their help is a great way to show that you care about them. Find out more about the priorities of your customers.
- Use existing customer data. Existing customers can be accessed by brands that are open for business. They can access purchase histories, website analytics (such as those provided by WIX Analytics), referral tracking, customer service feedback and store traffic patterns. This will allow them to compile an overview of all existing behavior. Just be aware of the gaps in current offerings that may require further information-gathering to flesh out priorities for future development.
- Online and offline surveys of your target audience are important. Ask potential new audiences to help you understand their needs. Ask potential new audiences to participate in an online survey that is tailored to their demographic preferences. In exchange for a coupon, discount or coupon, ask shoppers to visit shopping centers to complete a form.
- You should be aware of the trends in your region, demographics, and categories that affect your brand. You can compare your findings to wider trends by understanding the industry, the offerings of your competitors, and the general expectations of the region, age bracket, and income bracket you serve.
02. Standardize the basic selling tools
Although your target audience’s buying habits and shopping habits can influence the details of the product, it is essential that retailers build a solid foundation of omnichannel functionality to their eCommerce site. A comprehensive online platform is essential in order to standardize design, centralize product information, and enable connections to back-end systems, marketing channels, and functionality-boosting plug-ins. Merchants should consider:
- Content that is shared by customers, brands, and product. Retailers can stand out by having a comprehensive catalogue of product-specific and value-added marketing content. This includes information about events and in-store services. It is possible to adapt and customize product feeds for different platforms, social media platforms, or third-party marketplaces, which can increase efficiency.
- Personalization that predicts. Personalized product recommendations that recommend complementary products or add-ons based on past brand interactions can boost revenue. These tools can influence 92% of shoppers to make purchasing decisions. Modern personalization engines blend analytics with artificial-intelligence-powered algorithms to predict preferences and serve relevant products and content.
- Mobile-first design and functionality. 4 out of 10 consumers now shop online via mobile commerce. This means that any digital product should be designed with small screens in view.
03. Select the right marketing mix
Although basic eCommerce functionality is essential, you have more options when it comes choosing the channels that will be used to market your brand’s products or offers. To avoid costly advertising and content investments that don’t deliver results, it’s important to match your marketing methods with the preferences of your target audience.
Although there is no single marketing strategy that works for all customers, it is useful to develop strategies for the key phases of the customer journey.
- Discovery. You can introduce your brand to potential customers and present new products to existing customers by creating brand outposts on social networks. To simplify marketing across multiple channels such as email, Facebook and Instagram, you can use Multichannel Campaigns. Instead of managing each site separately and logging in and out on multiple sites, you can create a single campaign dashboard and track your success.
- The “messy center” Omnichannel shoppers need to consider brand interactions in order to navigate the Google-named “messy mid”. This is the part that includes researching, consulting other sources and adding items to the shopping basket, comparing prices, asking friends, and even asking for recommendations. These shoppers can be influenced by reviews, buying guides, social media endorsements, and even nudges such as remarketing ads and abandoned-cart emails, discounts, and invitations for in-store experiences.
- Re-engagement post-purchase. For repeat business success, it is important to reach out to customers with relevant offers and content. There are many ways to connect: from email replenishment offers to SMS alerts to let recipients know about store events and calls for participation on Social Media.
Wix eCommerce, an omnichannel platform that allows you to create newsletters as well as a variety of email marketing campaigns in order to connect with customers who have already purchased. With our CRM, you can also set up automated messages via email and chat that are based on customer actions or account behavior.
04. Optimize for crossover fulfillment efficiencies
Small-to-mid-sized merchants often find it daunting to try to compete with large retailers like Walmart and Amazon when it comes order fulfillment.
Good news: Consumers are supportive of startups and small businesses and will give them some slack if they’re open about shipping options, costs and timelines and explain their limitations.
Accenture, for example, found that 57% of consumers would switch to a brand if they could clearly explain any changes to service levels as a result of a pandemic, economic or societal issue.
Having clear objectives and learning new capabilities one at a time can prevent cost overruns, customer service mishaps, and other problems. In addition, consider focusing on:
- The green option. A reminder that slow shipping is more efficient and less harmful to the environment can be a helpful tool for shoppers looking for delivery options that are both faster and cheaper, in light of the growing preference for sustainable options.
- Stores are a fast and free alternative. Nearly 50% of online shoppers who abandon their shopping carts due to unexpected costs such as shipping fees. Although free shipping is not feasible for many independent retailers, they do have an alternative: their shops. Local customers can pick up the items within a few days. Shipping from local stores can be faster and cheaper than home delivery to the region.
05. To fill the gaps, leverage the power of the major players
No matter how well you plan, you won’t be able to do everything in all channels. You can still ride the coattails bigger players that offer fulfillment, selling, and marketing opportunities to help you bridge the gap.
Independent retailers are a key component of technology and retail’s big brands. They can help expand their product ranges, localize content and increase relevancy. These David-and-Goliath relationships have their drawbacks but they can help omnichannel retail reach scale and efficiency in areas that are important to their customers. Consider:
- If your customers are looking for speed, Amazon fulfillment is a good option. You may consider listing your items on Amazon’s third party marketplace if your customers live far from your physical locations. You’ll also benefit from increased visibility and new customers by leveraging Amazon’s industry-leading fulfillment. Amazon is the most popular destination for online shopping search queries.
- Mobile social commerce platforms that increase visual content capabilities. Social media users use their mobile devices for 99 percent of their social media interactions. Omnichannel retailers can increase visibility to new audiences via brand outposts. Shopping capabilities on sites such as Pinterest or Instagram allow followers to share eye-catching content. Additionally, retailers have access to cutting-edge augmented reality shopping features on Snapchat.
06. Take the time to measure the results
Comprehensive integration and execution are crucial for the success of omnichannel efforts. It’s also important to capture shoppers’ activities using omnichannel features, and to compile one customer record that reflects all interactions with the brand.
It’s important to ensure that the results from omnichannel activities are correctly reflected in web analytics. These tools can also be used to track the impact on the bottom line. They’ll provide unprecedented insight into customers’ preferences and behavior, which will help your brand create more relevant future offerings.
Success in Omnichannel commerce is possible
Rising eCommerce retailers face omnichannel commerce as a difficult task. However, customers expect brands to seamlessly blend offline and online experiences. They also want to be able to integrate offerings across all digital properties. It is possible to win sales by eCommerce merchants who are focused on their audience and execute their omnichannel initiatives flawlessly. This will allow them to create blended experiences that delight and satisfy customers and help them achieve their goals.