In the vibrant world of eCommerce, Omnichannel has become the most popular buzzword, as the driving factor behind enhanced in-store and online shopping experiences. Latest statistics and trends show that brands which use Omnichannel strategies are successful in retaining, on average, 89% of their customers, compared to the customer retention rate of 33% for those with weak Omnichannel customer engagement. Omnichannel implementation is also attributed to about a 20% increase in the conversion rate. That might be the reasons why retailers around the world are making the shift towards Omnichannel retailing.
So what is Omnichannel? What are the secrets behind an Omnichannel strategy that helps to boost the bottom line for retail businesses? This blog post will help to reveal the fundamentals of Omnichannel and the Roadmap to drive your business towards Omnichannel.
Simply put, the concept of Omnichannel retail is about integrating all touchpoints from both online and offline stores, in order to create a seamless and uninterrupted shopping experience across all channels. Not only can customers experience the same price or promotions across channels, but they can also have an uninterrupted shopping journey when they switch from one channel to another.
Let’s use the following example to see how a typical modern customer (named Anna) goes through an Omnichannel experience and interacts with a store using different touchpoints:
At home, Anna surfs Facebook and sees an advertisement, then navigates to the store website.
After visiting the website, Anna finds a T-shirt that she wants to buy. She creates an account and adds the item to her online shopping cart.
On the way to the store to try the T-shirt, Anna opens her mobile app (with the wishlist item synced to her mobile cart) to locate the nearest store.
The sales representative at the local store receives notifications of Anna’s upcoming visit and welcomes her once she arrives.
With support from the sales representative, Anna finds the T-shirt she likes and tries it on, but finds that her size is sold out. She asks the store to have the correct size T-shirt shipped to her front door.
The next day, Anna receives the item she ordered
Anna checks her online shopping cart and receives a notification that her order has been successfully completed. She receives reward points for her purchase.
The result? Anna feels awesome about her shopping experience and is excited to share it with her friends. As for the store, it has won a new loyalty customer! That is just one among hundreds of use cases on how an Omnichannel experience can help you to sell more and to ensure customer satisfaction.
When we talk about Omnichannel, it’s important to differentiate it from Multichannel. While both ways involve selling on various channels such as online, retail stores, marketplaces, social media, catalogue etc., the difference lies in its core.
At the heart of Multichannel retailing is the product. You get it listed on various channels. Each channel is treated as a separate purchase opportunity from another, with each one having its own stock, tracking its own customer behaviour and using its own marketing tactics to create the buying action.
On the other hand, the core of Omnichannel is, not product-based, but customer-centric. Nowadays, customers want to shop wherever they want and are not very happy if they have to start their shopping journey all-over-again when they switch between channels. That is where Omnichannel comes in – to remove the boundaries between sales channels and create a seamless shopping journey and experience across channels. All the information is integrated into one ecosystem, from products and stock, orders, to customer data.
In terms of marketing, Multichanneling marketing focuses on tactics that fit with each channel, such as website SEO, emails, retargeted ads, social media marketing or POSM at physical locations. However, Omnichannel marketing, with the integrated customer data across all channels, has merged the worlds of all the above tactics and shifted the focus to creating personalized offers, messages and shopping experiences.
In mature retail markets in western countries, the Omnichannel approach is already popular, with major brands such as Sephora and IKEA having already reaped the benefits of Omnichannel strategies. These are some examples of how brands used Omnichannel to improve their customers’ shopping experiences:
At Sephora stores, multiple tablets were placed in stores, which integrate with their online app and website. Suggestions for individual customers are personalised, based on their purchase history and search across all channels. Moreover, Sephora was quick to realize that their customers were facing major difficulties when shopping for cosmetics products because they had to choose among hundreds of items with many variations in colour and brand, for example, when making a quick “foundation” search. Realizing that, Sephora has built The Augmented Reality Fitting Room and Beauty Section to let customers virtually try on products and imagine how certain items may look on them.
IKEA is among the leading brands that are leveraging technology to enhance the Omnichannel shopping experience across its mobile, website and physical stores. To integrate between mobile and in-store, IKEA has built a mobile app that enables users to view, select and add their desired products to an online shopping list. The app then informs shoppers of the exact locations of the products on the list, making it much easier and faster to shop in IKEA retail stores. More notably, IKEA is infusing VR technology with a feature called “Place in Your Room” that allows users to virtually place and view nearly 300 IKEA products in their own homes, giving shoppers a clear 360-degree view of how the item fits into their house and with other furniture items.
In South-East Asian countries, the concept of Omnichannel is still in its nascent stage, although it has been adopted by brands such as COURTS Singapore.
COURTS aimed to build an Omnichannel approach and decided to incorporate a web-store to create an anytime and anywhere shopping experience. The main highlight included the implementation of a click-and-collect system that connects the more traditional retail experience with eCommerce while providing customers with more choice in how they shop. Loyalty features added included digital coupons, gift cards, free shipping thresholds and product bundling, all contributing to an improved customer experience and better scalability. Once the Omnichannel approach was implemented, online sales for the most exciting selling seasons such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday grew almost 100% year-on-year.
What is most evident in each brand’s shift towards Omnichannel is that it has allowed for seamless customer experiences, which is what has made their efforts in maintaining customer loyalty and generating revenue successful.
"The move toward omni is what our clients are looking for … and brands are definitely moving into a more customer-centric space at the moment"
- Jerry Smith, Chief Operating Officer of Ogilvy Asia
Now that you understand what Omnichannel is and how it can help to boost your bottom line as well and to promote customer loyalty to your brand, let’s look at how to go about implementing it using a roadmap:
Start with the “channel” aspect first and define the channels that fit the nature of your retail business. Considering all investments, ecommerce and mobile channels would be a good starting point.
Now let’s continue with the “Omni” part. This step consists of bringing together all channels into one system, with the backend data of CRM, ERP, OMS, warehouse, logistics or payment synced in real-time across all channels.
If you want to make the best of Omnichannel, the key is in not just building and implementing, but optimisation. At this point you should take a deeper dive into Customer Data Platform (CDP), to get a 360-degree view of your customers in order to better understand them. In this way, a CDP will help you create a more engaging and personalized Omnichannel experience for them.
What we’ve looked at so far is just a brief introduction of how you can move towards Omnichannel. Please subscribe to gain even more insight into the big picture of Omnichannel in our next blog post, where we’ll show you how to kickstart your journey in more detail.