Benefits of Omnichannel Ecommerce
In the age of digitization, convenience, and a global marketplace, eCommerce sits at the forefront. Over 20% of all global sales transactions take place online, and by 2026, eCommerce is projected to account for nearly a quarter of all retail sales.
For shoppers, eCommerce opens up global access to products and services, allowing customers access to virtually anything they need while providing a seamless shopping experience. And for retailers, it significantly lowers the overhead costs of running a business.
But despite the clear advantages it provides, it has one major limitation: customers can only interact with products in person after making a purchase decision.
That’s why omnichannel eCommerce is now the status quo.
What is Omnichannel eCommerce, Exactly?
Have you ever shopped online but picked up the product in-store? Or maybe you found a product online and purchased it at the store you visited later?
It allows customers to shop on different channels, such as online or in physical stores, while still receiving an integrated customer experience across all platforms.
Just like multichannel selling (i.e., selling through multiple online channels), omnichannel eCommerce gives customers the flexibility to shop in whatever manner they prefer, while connecting different stores and platforms together.
However omnichannel eCommerce and multichannel selling have some key differences.
Omnichannel marketing puts a greater emphasis on providing customers with an effortless and cohesive experience. Unfortunately, traditional multichannel marketing fails to connect each channel from the back end—leading to disconnected buying experiences for shoppers.
With omnichannel, a unified shopping experience is created for consumers. For instance, users could look into the store’s inventory on their laptops and purchase it later on their mobile devices hassle-free.
Afterwards, they can pick up their item at the most convenient physical location for them and the business.
What Makes Up the Omnichannel?
The omnichannel has several components, including (but not limited to):
- An intuitive brand website that is easy to navigate and use.
- A mobile app for shopping on the go.
- Social media presence to engage customers, gather data and respond to queries.
- Connected inventory systems across all stores and channels.
- Mobile messages, chats, and notifications to keep customers up to date on new deals and offers.
- Integrated payment methods between physical stores, websites, and mobile applications.
- Oner-the-phone customer service for resolving queries quickly.
- Mobile apps for sales and order management.
- Online marketplaces like Shopify, Amazon, and eBay.
- Email communication for customer support and marketing materials.
The actual mix of components depends on the needs of the business—an omnichannel strategy is all about meeting customers where they are for a more seamless customer experience.
5 Essential Benefits of Omnichannel eCommerce
Omnichannel eCommerce offers a lot of advantages to businesses. In a customer-centric economy, it is one of the best ways to encourage customers to shop, do busines with you, and, ultimately, grow your brand and revenue.
1. Meet customers’ expectations.
McKinsey & Co.’s recent omnichannel survey revealed that eCommerce sales routes are the most successful for 41% of leaders, surpassing in-person (37%) and video (31%).
Almost all respondents predicted they would be able to produce physical sales by the year’s beginning, yet only 15% of B2B merchants look forward to this being their primary method of engagement.
In the direct-to-consumer space, omnichannel expansion is the status quo even for digital-first (or digital-only) brands.
Warby Parker is an industry leader amongst DTC brands that are venturing into omnichannel, with its first physical store opening all the way back in 2013. Proving their commitment to success and growth, they opened 40 new stores just last year.
For the third quarter of 2022, another remarkable metric was noted at the eyewear brand: On average, per-customer revenue catapulted to an all-time high of $258—up 7% from last year.
2. Price flexibility
Your customers aren’t looking for you. And if they are, they don’t want to look very hard.
A stellar customer experience trumps a higher price in many cases, according to PwC research. 43% would pay for greater convenience, 42% for a friendlier, more welcoming experience, and the vast majority for personalized customer support.
An omnichannel eCommerce strategy enables organizations to do just this—providing customers with the option of tailored pricing and product recommendations alongside convenient payment options, no matter where they are located.
3. Optimal inventory management
Stock control is tricky for several reasons: It requires a deep understanding of customer behaviour, supply chain management, and demand forecasting to ensure you’re not overstocking or understocking any items.
By utilizing omnichannel systems to share stock data, your business can significantly reduce the risk of stagnant inventory that goes unsold – thus minimizing storage and opportunity costs—as evidenced by prominent retailers like Coach, Kohl’s, Best Buy, Sears, Macy’s, and Walmart, which deploy an “endless aisle” concept in their brick-and-mortar stores.
Using this strategy, customers can browse online inventories with items available for delivery or pick up at different locations, making cross-channel inventory management a highly effective tool with vast implications for the business’s bottom line.
4. Revenue growth for the company
Focusing on customer experiences has the potential to facilitate a massive return on investment.
Qualtrics research shows that companies with $1B ARR accumulate an average of $775 million when they prioritize the customer experience.
For smaller companies, it’s a life-or-death situation. Thanks to the Amazon effect and eCommerce usage at an all-time high, customers expect immediate gratification with their shopping experience.
Companies grow their revenue through their customer experience in several ways:
- Increased conversions. With a seamless experience across channels, customers are more likely to convert on their purchase.
- Repeat customers. Customers who have a better customer experience are more likely to buy from the same company again and again, meaning higher customer lifetime values.
- Increased loyalty. Satisfied customers are more likely to refer their friends, family and colleagues to the business, leading to a higher rate of customer acquisition as well as increased loyalty.
- Brand recommendations. Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful asset for businesses, and customers are likelier to talk about companies with which they have a positive experience.
It certainly pays to invest in a customer-focused approach, and an omnichannel eCommerce strategy is the only way to truly do that.
5. Opportunities for upselling and cross-selling.
Cross-selling and upsell opportunities benefit both customers and businesses alike, providing the former with a tailored selection of products while allowing the latter to increase their average order size and revenue.
Cross-channel strategies provide companies with the opportunity to distribute targeted messaging to their customers through a variety of means, including email, SMS and social media.
For instance, in-store businesses can take advantage of ship-to-store features, which allow them to save on delivery costs while providing the potential for more in-store purchases (e.g., matching accessories).
The opposite is also true—retailers that are predominantly brick-and-mortar can take advantage of digital channels to recommend additional items, order out-of-stock inventory, and even provide payment options.
At the same time, online customers can be prompted to add items to their cart through personalized product recommendations.
How Retailers Can Implement Omnichannel eCommerce Solutions
Transitioning from eCommerce to omnichannel isn’t always the easiest feat. It requires cross-channel consistency, a high degree of customer engagement, and the ability to meet business objectives effectively.
There are a few things businesses need to do to make these three things coexist:
Focus on the customer experience.
The most worthwhile part of this kind of strategy is how the omnichannel helps customers—but businesses must recognize their customer’s requirements first. With that knowledge, they can decide which aspects of an omnichannel plan will be the most useful and meet those needs best.
For example, digital experiences should harness the strengths of both online and in-store encounters by enabling customers to pan, zoom in and view items from multiple perspectives, simulating an on-site shopping experience.
Companies like Amazon and IKEA are taking this a step further, using AR technology to provide customers with a more immersive shopping experience.
An omnichannel approach should make it easy to exchange or return an item, no matter what touchpoint was used during the original purchase. This could include utilizing an app to process the return, dropping off the item at a retail outlet near you, or integrating with reverse logistics providers for maximum convenience.
Humanise the support process.
According to a PwC Future of Customer Experience Survey, 75% of global consumers want human interactions, not robots.
That isn’t to say chatbots, AI assistants, and automated responses don’t have their place. They are great for providing basic customer service, but real people need to be available to provide more in-depth support if needed.
Automation isn’t the answer for everything, and a personal touch goes a long way toward creating excellent customer experiences.
Spot-on inventory tracking.
In order to maximize omnichannel success, businesses need an in-depth and real-time view of both their online and brick-and-mortar stock. This allows staff from all departments, ranging from retail store employees, accounting personnel, and fulfilment teams access this information as needed.
To ensure that every purchase is tracked—be it made in a physical location or through the company’s website or app—a reliable inventory management system should be established so that counts can easily be adjusted when items are returned or taken out of shopping carts that have exceeded a limit time frame.
Integrate systems and data.
The in-depth inventory insights our customers receive ensure they are always kept well informed. Additionally, this data empowers internal stakeholders to confidently make decisions that will benefit their company as a whole.
To make sense of these deep inventory insights, data must be integrated from numerous sources, including:
- CRM software
- Warehouse management systems (WMS)
- Cloud databases
- Email lists
- Website data
- Social media engagement
- Ad analytics
By connecting all of these sources and tracking customer behaviour, businesses can gain valuable insights into their customers’ needs.
Build and leverage competitive intelligence.
Competitive intelligence (CI) gathers data from a variety of sources to provide insights into the competitive landscape. This comes in handy when trying to anticipate customer trends, create better services, and increase market share.
Businesses typically garner competitive intelligence through a combination of:
- Market research
- Research papers
- Social listening
By leveraging competitive intelligence, businesses can gain valuable insights into their customers and what they are looking for. This can be used to create better omnichannel experiences and provide tailored services that meet customer needs.
Segment your customers accordingly.
Through high-grade data collection, consumer segmentation is made more effective. This means that the omnichannel segmentation process includes traditional markers such as age, gender, location and financial status, but also app usage metrics, website traffic analytics, device preferences and purchase choices.
Lifestyle preferences, including attitudes or opinions, are crucial in forming a comprehensive approach to consumer segmentation. By combining these segments, businesses design exceptional customer experiences founded on factual data, as opposed to conjecture.
Achieve Omnichannel eCommerce Efficiency With WMS
An efficient and comprehensive warehouse management system (WMS) is the backbone of a successful omnichannel eCommerce business. It provides inventory control, order fulfilment and customer service functions across all channels to ensure that orders are allocated and shipped quickly and accurately.
It also ensures that customers receive items on time, prevents erroneous shipments, and provides up-to-date stock counts. with WMS, businesses improve their omnichannel eCommerce efficiency and provide better customer experiences.
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