Retail customers are increasingly employing different sales channels to purchase products like never before. The days of heading to the mall to purchase clothes or household goods are over. People utilize different methods to buy their products, so companies that can capitalize on this mix are better suited for success in the highly competitive market for retail innovation.
The process of integrating all of these sales channels into one smooth sales strategy is called omnichannel commerce. At its most basic form, omnichannel commerce manages customer data gathered from each different sales channel into one targeted campaign aimed at increasing sales to a specific customer.
Whether the company is focused on brick-and-mortar, online, social media, or even phone-based sales, understanding how to leverage sales channel mix is crucial to compete in the modern marketplace. The following guide will provide a quick overview of how to accomplish a successful omnichannel commerce strategy by overviewing its key characteristics, along with the benefits it provides customers and the business.
The Characteristics of Omnichannel Commerce
To begin, let’s get a sense of the predecessors of omnichannel before dissecting its specific characteristics.
Traditionally, retailers would utilize a specific sales channel to conduct business. This is termed single-channel commerce, meaning that a retailer only conducts sales through one channel: online, brick-and-mortar, over the phone, through telemarketing, etc.
In the modern-day, there are very few retailers that have stuck to one sales channel, as most firms have attempted to expand their sales offering to various channels. The process of selling items on several channels is known as multi-channel commerce.
At its core, omnichannel commerce is just an extension of multi-channel commerce, but with additional layers to leverage the existing data available that comes with selling products on multiple channels. Some of the key characteristics of omnichannel commerce include:
- Creating a fluid information gathering data system that works across sales channels and enables employees and an online platform to provide shoppers with targeted products based on their specific needs
- Coordinating marketing and sales offers across channels, from display floor in a brick-and-mortar store to the website or social media advertising
- Providing employees with as much information as possible across sales channels, so they are offering a specific customer the right products or discounts
- Asking customers to provide information that can be applied to sales across channels
In a sense, omnichannel commerce is a customization of a multi-channel strategy tailored to each customer. This method also provides the basis of the overall marketing and sales scheme by applying the data collected into a unified approach.
Benefits of Omnichannel Commerce to Customers
While many assume that customers would be uncomfortable with the targeting methods that are inherent to omnichannel commerce, research suggests otherwise. In fact, omnichannel commerce provides various benefits to customers and consequentially has led to an increase in foot traffic for retailers who utilize this sales method.
Some of the key benefits of omnichannel commerce for customers include:
- Flexibility – Generally, consumers who utilize various sales channels are searching for flexibility in their in-store experience. That is the very reason they are choosing to shop through different channels. If a customer feels like shopping online instead of heading down to the store, they can expect the same level of service and products through a website as they would get when in-store shopping.
- Convenience – Building on flexibility, omnichannel marketing is also extremely convenient for the customer. It allows them to pick and choose how they want to shop when they want to shop.
- Better Service – Service is streamlined through omnichannel commerce because employees are equipped with the information necessary to make customers shopping experience seamless and give them exactly what they are looking for.
- Enhanced Options – Likely the best part of omnichannel commerce for customers is the unlimited amount of options available. If a customer wants to order online and have something delivered to their home, they can. If they prefer to pick-up their items in-store, why not? If they want to head down to the shop and try on everything they can find, no problem! Omnichannel commerce provides so many options for customers.
Benefits of Omnichannel Commerce to Business
Businesses will undoubtedly see the benefits of omnichannel commerce immediately. This sales technique improves staff efficiency, increases customers in retail, equips the business with valuable real-time data and analytics that can be applied for years, improves revenues and margins, and enhances customer loyalty, unlike any other strategy.
Still, omnichannel commerce does require investment but so does anything worth doing within the brick-and-mortar retail sector. As the market continuously experiences disruptive shifts due to constant technological development, it is vital to ensure businesses are one step ahead of the next big change by employing a sustainable sales and marketing strategy.
- Big Commerce. The Global Omni-Channel Consumer Shopping Research Report. https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/omni-channel-retail/#developing-your-omni-channel-strategy
- Bloom Reach. What is Omnichannel Commerce? Definition, Benefits and Trends. https://www.bloomreach.com/en/blog/2019/07/omnichannel-commerce-for-business.html
- E-Commerce Nation. Why Omnichannel Commerce is the Future of E-Commerce. https://www.ecommerce-nation.com/omni-channel-retail-future-ecommerce/
- Harvard Business Review. A Study of 46,000 Shoppers Shows That Omnichannel Retailing Works. https://hbr.org/2017/01/a-study-of-46000-shoppers-shows-that-omnichannel-retailing-works