Harvard Business Review says that 73% of online shoppers use several channels when shopping online. This is why it is imperative that businesses offer a unified eCommerce experience to their customers, no matter which channel they are on.
In this article, we will look at multi-channel and omnichannel eCommerce, why the latter is more efficient than the former, its benefits, drawbacks in implementing them, and a few examples of businesses that are currently doing it.
Multi-channel vs. Omnichannel:
Your brand is present on multiple channels, and your customers can interact with the brand. It could be a social media website, mobile websites, emails, apps, physical stores, etc. The experience on the social media website will be completely different from that of the mobile app. The experience will not be seamless.
This is where omnichannel comes in.
An omnichannel strategy understands that customers will use a different channel in the beginning and shift to another one as a part of their natural progression while buying something. It optimizes the buying process for today’s customers who love sophistication and convenience.
Benefits of Omnichannel eCommerce:
- Understanding customer journey:
Omnichannel eCommerce allows your company to collect and collate customer data from several channels. When you have all of this data in a single place, you will understand the kind of customers who like what you offer. It will give you a sneak peek into their behavior and put you in a position where you can personalize their journey.
- Better customer experience:
9 out of 10 customers want an omnichannel experience. The only other customer who doesn’t want an omnichannel experience while shopping might be someone who doesn’t even know about the term. With the number of customer touchpoints increasing, seamless integration on each of them becomes even more important. Your consumer will feel like shopping with you is a breeze when you break down the walls between different channels.
- More sales and traffic:
A Harvard Business Review study says that omnichannel customers spend more money than those who use only a single channel. The same study says that customers who used more than 4 channels spent 9% more in the store. Customers who had an omnichannel shopping experience had logged 23% more repeat trips within six months.
- Adapt to changing trends:
Consumers’ preferences keep changing, thanks to technology. eCommerce businesses need to keep a tab on the latest interests, passions, and purchasing behavior of their customers. By providing an omnichannel shopping experience, you can offer a consistent shopping experience and keep adapting to the latest trends.
- Retain more customers:
When you allow customers to interact with your brand using several channels, the chances of them buying from you again increase. If they had a great experience shopping at your store, they would surely check out your website or visit your social media handle. Prompted by their experience at the store, they will buy from you again.
- Personalized experience:
In an omnichannel eCommerce strategy, your branding and messaging should be consistent across channels and reflect where the customers are in the buying cycle. By providing a personalized experience, you increase the chances of the customers completing the order.
Challenges with implementing omnichannel eCommerce:
Omnichannel eCommerce offers so much for businesses, isn’t it? Then why aren’t all the eCommerce companies jumping into it? Because it can be difficult to implement without the technical know-how or the right partner.
Let us look at some challenges a business faces when trying to incorporate omnichannel eCommerce.
- Companies that want to implement omnichannel eCommerce should optimize their tech stack to gather all their customer intelligence. Most businesses don’t know how to do this.
- It is difficult to create unified customer profiles as you have to identify customers across devices and channels.
- Customer journeys these days aren’t linear. Therefore, tailoring customers’ experiences becomes difficult.
- Data privacy and security is an issue since integrating systems puts your data at a risk.
- Have to follow industry-standard security protocols during integration.
- Integrating different channels can be expensive and time-consuming, based on the scale and complexity of the project.
Future of omnichannel eCommerce:
The future of omnichannel retail will be all about convenience, physical experiences, personalization, and efficiency. Here are some of our predictions about omnichannel eCommerce’s future:
- Since the number of options for consumers has increased, it will all be about offering convenience. How quickly will the product arrive? How easy is it to order products? How do the products appear on the website or at the physical store?
- Consumers will want blended experiences. Videos, screen shares, virtual reality viewing, and so on will be some of the expectations.
- They want product recommendations just for themselves.
- The younger generation these days are particular about what the business they buy from represents. They care about society and how the products they buy impact the environment, diversity, culture, and future generations. E-Commerce companies might have to put some thought into this when creating products.
- Immersive 3D digital stores might be something that the future has in store for us.
- Transformative technologies such as smart sensors, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, green technology, sustainable energy, and nanotechnology will shape omnichannel eCommerce.
Omnichannel eCommerce’s future is not only about providing its customers with several channels to buy from, but it is also about ensuring that their experience is uniformly consistent everywhere.
Business examples of companies providing omnichannel eCommerce:
Let us look at some of the real-life business examples of how eCommerce companies implemented omnichannel strategies for their customers.
The retail pharmaceutical giant has a mobile app. Customers can manage their pharmacy prescriptions, find deals, make orders, and pick them up at the nearest location.
They offer devices that seamlessly sync with each other using the customers’ iCloud accounts. Messages, photos, and connected devices display the same way no matter which Apple device the customer uses. When a customer sets up their new device and signs in using their iCloud account, all the relevant information is downloaded to the new device.
The coffee behemoth is also known for its omnichannel strategy. When a Starbucks customer pays with a Starbucks card, they will accumulate reward points. Their linked app allows coffee lovers to send gifts, find nearby stores, and order drinks in advance.
The leading electronics retailer app provides an omnichannel experience. It is easy to navigate and has a nice flow. You can checkout with curbside pickup or add the products to the cart. The customer can locate the product at a different store and get it shipped to the designated MyStore.
You can manage and order existing and new devices in their mobile app, chat with support agents, make changes to your account, and get the best deals and offers available. When you open the app, you first see “Hi, (your name),” a classic example of good personalization.
They integrated with Pinterest Lens, using which people can use their smartphones to take a picture of something they like and see if the Target app has a similar product available. It offers a seamless experience for customers who see something they like and can immediately check if it is available on Target.
Adapting to the latest eCommerce trends is not easy. There are a gazillion things to be updated about. Today, eCommerce retailers across the world are trying to implement omnichannel eCommerce. It is well worth the effort and time invested in shifting to an omnichannel experience. Do you have the necessary wherewithal and expertise to offer an omnichannel experience for your customers? If not, you should find ways to add it to your tech stack.
Even though implementing an omnichannel experience for your customers is a must-do these days, it can be difficult to manage it alone. 99minds is here to help you create an omnichannel experience for your customers with the help of its plug-and-play software that can create loyalty programs, gift cards, discounts, referrals, etc.