Omnichannel shopping has increased in popularity over the past few years, and for a good reason – it meets consumer demand in both the physical and digital worlds. Now, as we enter one of the busiest times of the year – the holiday season – more retailers are relying on an omnichannel approach to make consumers' lives easier and help them seamlessly achieve all of their holiday shopping needs.
However, with so many options available for developing an omnichannel approach, what does it look like for retailers?
What Does Omnichannel Mean?
Omnichannel commerce "leverages technological solutions, including Ombori Grid, to blend the physical and digital retail worlds. It allows businesses to connect with customers via a variety of platforms (laptop, mobile device, face-to-face, etc.)" to increase reach, reduce friction, and boost sales.
A clothing brand, for example, might sell its products on a website or app, on Amazon or Instagram, as well as in-store. Regardless of whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by phone or in person, the experience remains consistent.
This approach helps retailers meet consumers' newest demands, as many often use multiple channels to complete a single purchase.
For instance, when buying a sofa, an individual might first conduct research online or use an app to view different colors and configurations. They can also see whether an item is in stock at the local store. Visiting in person allows them to interact with the item before buying it. If the sofa is unavailable in-store, the customer can place an order online and pick it up later or have it delivered directly to their home.
How Does Omnichannel Influence the Consumer Experience?
Today's consumers want control over buying decisions. They want to purchase products and services at their convenience, on their own terms, and through a method that best suits them. Here's how omnichannel retail can benefit customers and enhance their holiday shopping experience.
- Flexibility: Consumers can use multiple platforms to conduct their holiday shopping. They can shop online or visit a store – or even combine those experiences by shopping online and picking up their items in-store. They have the flexibility that will meet their busy schedule.
- Additional information: An omnichannel approach allows customers to see detailed information about products and services and compare configurations, prices, and fulfillment options. The more informed customers feel, the more confident they are in making decisions.
- More choices: Unconstrained by physical location, omnichannel retail allows customers to access a broader range of brands and products. They can also select from a variety of shipping methods and payment options. Now, consumers can be sure they select the right gifts for their friends and family.
- Increased transparency: Omnichannel commerce provides customers with real-time transparency into a retailer's physical inventory, so they can see if an item is in stock at a specific location or how many items remain available for online purchase. They can be sure to reserve high-priority items from their holiday lists.
- Streamline store visits: It allows customers to use self-serve digital technology and speeds up the pickup process. For example, an integrated shopping app offering BOPIS and curbside options allows them to shop whenever and wherever convenient. In-store, the store assistant, Endless Aisle and self-checkout make it quicker and easier to complete their purchase.
- Greater personalization: By utilizing an omnichannel approach, retailers can create tailored marketing campaigns based on data from previous purchases, social media, website cookies, email lists, in-store interactions, and other sources. They can even give every advertisement a holiday twist that entices their consumers even more.
At its core, omnichannel commerce is about empowering the customer, and that sense of empowerment often translates into greater satisfaction, which can lead to increased loyalty. Customers who have a positive omnichannel experience with a retailer are more likely to shop the brand again or recommend it to family and friends.
Benefits of an Omnichannel Approach for Business Owners and Retail Employees
An omnichannel approach also benefits business owners and retail employees.
- Expanded reach: An omnichannel approach allows retailers to reach customers where they are. No matter when or how customers choose to shop, products, sales associates, and customer service representatives are only a click, an email, a direct message, a phone call, or a store visit away.
- Increased brand awareness: A broad and flexible presence across multiple channels increases the odds that consumers will search for, find, and interact with a brand when exploring products or services online.
- Better data collection: With an omnichannel approach, retailers can develop a holistic customer data collection strategy that is more contextual. Better data means more informed decisions to improve customer engagement and reduce operating expenses.
- More upsell and cross-sell opportunities: Using data collected through omnichannel sources, retailers can design and send emails, texts, push notifications, and even direct mail to recommend complementary items and upgrades.
- Higher retention rates: As customers increasingly engage with multiple channels, their satisfaction numbers rise, as do their retention rates. Studies show that retailers who invest in strong omnichannel strategies have a 91% higher year-over-year customer retention rate than those who don't.
The bottom line is that an omni visit approach is good for business. In fact, retailers who have adopted a robust omnichannel approach have seen a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue, compared to 3.4% for those who haven't.
Omnichannel: Improving the Holiday Experience
Given the positive impact on revenue, it's not surprising to see retailers embracing an omnichannel approach, especially during the holidays. Thanks to the pandemic, "shoppers now expect to be able to engage, buy, and get products in their hands however works best for them," and retailers who fail to adapt to this new reality are likely to lose revenue.
Here are some best omnichannel practices for retailers to implement during the holiday shopping season – and beyond.
Create a Personalized Shopping Journey
Retailers can use data collected through multiple channels to get to know their customers and their preferred devices and platforms. This allows retailers to "reach customers more effectively, promoting holiday events, items, and experiences that are most relevant to them on the channels they frequent most." They can also personalize the shopping journey by tailoring promotions to shoppers' habits and preferences, crafting messages that speak directly to them.
Be Transparent about Fulfillment and Delivery
Supply chain woes threaten to spoil the holiday shopping season with higher prices, more out-of-stock items, and delayed shipments. Therefore, it's prudent for retailers to be transparent about fulfillment and delivery. They should also consider leveraging different shipping options across channels to include a mix of two-day fulfillment and in-store pickup options, and offer threshold-based free shipping or charging a flat rate to drive more sales.
Streamline Returns and Empower Customer Service Reps
Returns are unavoidable during the holidays and should be part of an omnichannel approach. When simplified, the return process offers retailers an opportunity to grow loyalty and prevent customers from defecting to competitors. To expedite customer service, representatives need to have instant access to critical data, such as if the customer bought an item with a loyalty card or purchased a similar item in the past. This gives the rep greater context when dealing with a customer and results in more personalized service and a faster resolution.
Get Ready for Holiday Shopping!
Omni visit is a must for retailers – however, the question remains, which solution is best for them? Here's a glimpse into the benefits Ombori Grid has offered its customers this holiday season. Ombori Grid Omni Visit is:
- Fully customizable, designed to fit the needs of any business
- Quick and simple to install and configure
- Able to be rolled out at various locations with minimal effort and cost
- Offers a single hub for central control
- Billed based on usage
- Includes mobile integration
- Driven by proven technology, including Microsoft Preferred Solution and Azure IoT
- Runs on a wide range of hardware, including Android and iOS tablets.
Additionally, it can be integrated with Ombori's numerous other solutions to further enhance the customer and retailer experience.
Björn is Chief Experience Officer of Ombori Grid. He spent the early part of his career in the music business before moving into retail design and video production. His passion is for creating unique and memorable retail experiences that excite and delight customers. He spent 6 years at Visual Art in Stockholm before joining Ombori in 2018.