Omnichannel: Retail, ecommerce, and more

What is Omnichannel: Retailing, eCommerce and More

What is omnichannel?

Omnichannel is the strategy of using multiple marketing channels integrated in a way which affords the end user a seamless front-end experience. Customers interact with brands through a wide variety of sales and marketing channels: websites, mobile browsers, native apps, physical retail, social media, email, and more.

While in the past these would all have their own systems and processes, customers now expect their experiences to flow from one channel to the next without interruption.

Imagine, for instance, a customer places an order through a brand’s ecommerce website. She later goes to check the order status on her native mobile app to ensure it’s been shipped. When it arrives, she decides to go to the physical store to return an item she’s unhappy with. After returning the item, her account is automatically credited and a confirmation email is sent. The brand then begins to remarket similar products to her on social media. Once the exception, this example of a smooth ecommerce experience is now what customers expect.

Discover all the aspects of creating a seamless omnichannel experience

Omnichannel vs. multichannel

You may be wondering if there’s a difference between omnichannel and multichannel approaches. Multichannel is the strategy of having multiple different sales and marketing channels to engage your customers. Traditionally, these were isolated systems unable to share data or processes with one another. Omnichannel marketing effectively removes the boundaries between these disparate channels, creating an immersive customer experience.

The benefits of an omnichannel retail approach

There are many advantages to using an omnichannel strategy in retail:

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How to get the most out of omnichannel

To truly benefit from omnichannel retailing, you must focus on strategy and taking action on important data insights. Fortunately, there are many ways for getting the most out of your omnichannel strategy:

Anticipating possible omnichannel challenges

Like any major change, implementing an omnichannel experience comes with its share of roadblocks. Proper planning and precautions can help to avoid them.

Data privacy and security always come first as integrating systems increases overall data exposure. This requires control access is properly set up, software is regularly patched, data is encrypted both in transit and at rest, and industry-standard security protocols are followed. Also ensure you are compliant with any applicable data privacy standards, such as the GDPR for organizations that do business in the EU.

You should also factor in the cost of creating an omnichannel experience in advance. Integrating channels can be expensive, and costs can vary significantly depending on the scale and complexity. Whenever possible, use tools for tasks like order and product management to save time while reducing scaling-related expenses.

Finally, customer shipping is a necessary part of any omnichannel strategy for businesses focused on physical merchandise. Customers expect deliveries will be made in a timely fashion with little hassle. Building a cohesive fulfillment strategy is critical, from providing convenient return policies to varied shipment options. Creating a fulfillment plan and carefully considering what your customers expect will help create a pleasant, convenient experience that grows customer loyalty.

Make omnichannel work for your retail business

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Omnichannel in action

Omnichannel strategies are being adopted by retailers and brands around the world. Here are a few examples of businesses who have successfully integrated omnichannel workflows.

Increasing sales in a declining market

Primeau Velo is one of the major bicycle retailers in Canada. In early 2016, the brand found itself in a quickly declining market as ecommerce sellers were eating away at their sales and revenue. Primeu Velo decided to take control by implementing its own omnichannel strategy.

The company integrated all aspects of its business, which includes ecommerce, enterprise resource planning, and accounting. They developed a seamless customer service experience that lets consumers interact directly with the brand through a range of channels including their website, live chat, in-store, and mobile environments. In the process, they found customers who initiated chat sessions had 30% higher conversion rates and that 20% of their in-store customers had spoken to an associate before their visits. Primeau Velo increased its sales by 27% that year alone.

Revolutionizing a digital business

Rural King is a farm supply store serving the needs of communities across the Midwest US since 1960. Many customers use the Rural King online store to research and purchase specialty products to keep their operations running. However, manually servicing Rural King’s millions of in-store and online customers became increasingly difficult.

In 2017, Rural King implemented an omnichannel strategy to automate critical business processes including order tracking, inventory management, fulfillment, and reporting. The result was a seamless customer experience that helped customers find what they needed across all channels. In addition to streamlining delivery timeframes, Rural King also provided the option for in-store pickup.

Thanks to the power of its omnichannel strategy, Rural King increased its online revenue of 34%, increased traffic in 95% of its stores, and doubled its store locations within six years.

Personalizing the customer experience across all channels

Italian furniture design company Calligaris offers thousands of product variants to customers in over 100 countries. However, their proprietary ecommerce solution was showing its age. The system was unable to integrate with their pricing or promotion systems and did not handle mobile device ordering well. They decided to implement an omnichannel strategy to successfully merge their online and physical retail experiences.

Calligaris began with a much-needed performance update to their online offerings while integrating their pricing systems. They also developed a unique kiosk system in their stores that allows customers to generate and view 3D renderings of their custom furniture configurations. After creating a design through this system, customers can place an order or add these products to their wish lists. Product information is fully available in store and on its website. This improved the customer experience, dramatically reducing the backend maintenance overhead of managing otherwise disparate inventory systems.

Start implementing an omnichannel approach in your business

When implementing a great omnichannel experience for your customers, you need a partner who can help bridge the gaps between your existing channels — and take advantage of new ones — using secure integrations. Adobe Commerce provides comprehensive solutions for ecommerce, order management, and business intelligence.

Request a demo to see how the world’s most flexible commerce platform can help you provide your customers with a seamless shopping experience.