Omnichannel has exploded in the world of retail and it shows no signs of slowing down. But why, and more specifically, why now? Well, in a nutshell, shoppers want their experience to be as seamless and convenient as possible, and omnichannel retail provides this.
What is Omnichannel Exactly?
There is some contention around how to define omnichannel, but let’s go with the idea that omnichannel retail is a practice that offers a consistent experience across channels. Retailers use an omnichannel strategy because it works in concert with strong brand positioning. In this day and age, we expect all types of information to be at our fingertips, especially in retail. An easily navigable website on desktops, and mobile, is a must to convert those browsers into customers. Few things are more frustrating for shoppers than trying to access a website on their favorite screen and being met with a less than functional experience. In order to protect those sales, an omnichannel shopping and brand experience is necessary.
Why is Omnichannel so Important Now?
The experience that shoppers have on one channel impacts how they move through the sales funnel. Take the rise of mobile, for example. The prevalence of mobile phones has made showrooming a big issue for brick and mortar retailers. Roughly 33% of consumers will check prices online while in-store and 80% of shoppers will check prices online before buying at all. Price checking apps and comparison shopping engines make it possible to find the best deal faster than ever. To position themselves for success, multichannel retailers must have consistent pricing across channels. Pricing must also take into consideration top competitors that will inevitably show up while consumers search for the best deal.
Who is Doing Omnichannel Right?
There isn’t just one way to do omnichannel correctly, but there are some retailers that started off online that have found additional success in brick and mortar. For Bonobos and BaubleBar, physical stores helped them unlock their sales potential because shoppers were finally able to fully experience their products before making a purchase. Andy Katz-Mayfield , the Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Harry’s, a razor and shaving accessories company, summed up the main focus of omnichannel retail rather well. He explained, ‘‘It’s less about creating another channel to sell product… It’s about providing a really great experience.’’ That improvement in experience made it possible for BaubleBar to see a 300% jump in in-store sales, compared to online. Bonobos had a similarly positive foray into brick and mortar, leading to its decision to quadruple its store count in the next two years. There are a few key points that retailers need to address if they want to emulate these two companies.
How Can Retailers Implement an Omnichannel Strategy?
- Online presence: Your online presence has a big impact on sales, so optimizing your webstore for desktop and mobile platforms is a must. Your online presence goes beyond your own website and also extends to social media. You should be active and responsive on social sites that relate to your market to not only interact, but gain insight as well.
- Retargeting: Social media can be an effective place to retarget existing customers. Say a shopper put a pair of pants into their cart, but never checked out. Get them back on your site with a retargeting ad for that product and maybe even one that compliments it.
- Link experiences: Selling on multiple channels means having multiple inventories, which can be beneficial for shoppers that want to have multiple access points to the merchandise. Over a third of major multi-channel retailers show in-store inventory on their webstores, and 33% of retailers fulfill online orders with inventory from brick and mortar stores. This is helpful for shoppers because offering BOPIS, or buy online, pickup in-store, is a very important factor when shopping online for over half of consumers. Your channels should work together to get consumers their goods in the way that is most convenient for them, like shipping an item that is out of stock in-store.
- Data is your friend: Knowing what your customers buy and what channel they buy it from can be hugely beneficial for your business. Integrate online and in-store analytics to get a complete view of your customer base. What prices are most effective? You know what they say, “you don’t know until you mine.”
What other tips can you think of to build a successful omnichannel retail strategy?