Omnichannel retail strategy isn’t a trend.
It’s a clever shift in the right direction.
The end goal is to create a superior experience wherever and whenever customers need it.
This is something customers are hungry for – according to McKinsey & Company, “customers want an always-on, personalized, omnichannel experience. “
But shifting into an omnichannel strategy requires sufficient forethought. Here are some useful facts and tips on how to level up the customer experience for your small to medium-sized businesses.
What is omnichannel retail and why is it more important than other retail strategies?
Omnichannel strategy refers to the use of various platforms with the same objective and processes in mind.
“Omni” means “all” or “all of the things.” You create one cohesive experience for your shoppers in your physical store, your online shop or app, the marketplace–everywhere you do business. You link up all the touchpoints and ensure that they guide your customers where they need to go.
Multichannel is the next best thing. A lot of businesses use it these days, and it’s much easier to transition to omnichannel than a single channel retail strategy. In this strategy, businesses leverage different platforms that users can access, but each platform focuses on a single journey.
Going omnichannel is getting all these channels together and creating a unified experience. You can start by focusing on six key areas that matter most when designing an omnichannel strategy.
6 Omnichannel Strategy Points You Should Consider
Omnichannel retail can be intimidating. Retail giants such as Target have done it over the years and are continuing to polish their strategies over time.
But SMBs can also join in on the game. To help you break into it, follow these tips and get inspired by some excellent omnichannel retail examples:
1. Deliver Quality and Consistent Content
An omnichannel content strategy ensures your brand message is consistent across all your selling channels.
When users connect with a brand, they interact with anything that comes their way. You might want to grab their attention from your social media page and direct them to your website, but others come to your website first. Alternatively, they may not know you have a digital presence because they stumbled into your store one morning while shopping.
There are no hard and fast rules or a natural progression to how they consume your brand content. Make sure you deliver the same impression to everyone, every time.
Branding is one way to do that. Create a branding guide—tone, color, logo, elements—to help you maintain the same impression. Let’s look at how Mmmly, a healthy cookie brand does this:
The Mmmly cookies website features fun colors and fonts, which reflect the brand’s fun invitation to switch to healthier treats.
When you hop over to their Instagram, you see the same font and colors. Basically, same fun.
You can also include content repurposing in your omnichannel strategy. For example, try to reuse your existing product photos to create new product videos. Observe the engagement to find out what’s working for your target audience.
Mmmly repurposed some of their Instagram content on their new Amazon shop:
Last but not least, make sure your landing pages, advertisements, blog posts, and any other promotional content cater to your customers’ needs. As you gain insights into your customers’ journey, you can optimize your content according to the channel or their buying process.
2. Map Out Your Customer’s journey
Customers discover your brand through various touchpoints. Perhaps they scrolled through your ads or a friend recommended your product.
You can use an omnichannel strategy across these multiple touchpoints to increase customer conversions. Content is naturally associated with this. You’ll see why in a bit.
Let’s suppose a female follower of influencer @savvisilver sees this post and suddenly wants a pair of boots for herself. After reading the caption, she clicks @matissefootwear straightaway.
Now she can view the brand’s boot collection on Instagram by visiting their account. Which is nice and all–but this doesn’t clue her in on where to buy the shoes. Fortunately, the link in @matissefootwear’s bio is a lifesaver in this case. It can redirect prospects to further browse their promos and collections.
Clicking the link in the bio will take you to this page. Choosing one of these options would take her to the designated webpage which shows the promos and collections.
This makes it easier to look for @savvisilver’s recommendation and head to check out or browse other collections. If she has further queries, she can interact with a tiny pop-up chatbot you see in the right bottom corner that would guide her throughout her omnichannel shopping experience.
3. Optimize Your Web or App Design
The user experience is your omnichannel strategy’s top priority, and design is its core component. 65% of users put emphasis on whether the design and layout fit the device they’re using. This is a common problem with websites that are only accessible via PC browsers.
Above all, ensure that the designs don’t overwhelm your customers. Simplify the navigation and add tabs and categories if necessary.
This is a great example of a minimalist and optimized store design from Déplacé, a retail store of urban trekking shoes.
4. Streamline Inventory Management
An omnichannel strategy requires efficient reordering, tracking, and delivery processes to satisfy 100% order fulfillment across all channels.
Let’s say your e-commerce warehouse has excessive quantities of Item A, while your physical shop is running out of them. If your portfolio contains Items A to Z, the segmented process won’t let you track the level of each item per location. So you’re more prone to reordering Item A for the physical store instead of getting the excess from the e-shop’s warehouse.
Another challenge is to track items that are barely moving or selling out across all your channels. Because of the lack of inventory visibility, how can you ensure that your online listings are actually available?
Some digital-native brands try to trick the system (and their customers) by listing more stock on their e-commerce website than they actually have. But this creates more trouble once they run out of stock and customers keep ordering them.
To optimize your inventory’s omnichannel retail strategy, list down all the locations where you store your stocks. Determine the stock cycle movement: inbound (purchases), warehouse transfers, and outbound (sales) to easily track them.
If you’re starting off with a manual inventory system, analyze if you can scale the process once your business grows.
Invest in inventory software that can track the real-time movement of your stocks per SKU. It’s not only the lack of a centralized database that can cause sloppy management, but it’s also an issue of compliance.
Do you have any questions about this?
Book a free, no strings attached chat with us to learn how the Megaventory team can help.
5. Make product Returns More Accessible
Ah. Returns. Yes, they’re annoying, but they’re inevitable – especially for digital-native brands. Research shows 20% of products purchased online are returned, compared to 9% for brick-and-mortar stores.
With your shift to omnichannel strategy, you can take the load off your shoulders and your customers by following these steps:
Make your omnichannel return policy clear and visible
Create a page dedicated to it on your website, tell your customers about it when you email their purchase receipt, and include a document when you ship products. Some information to include are products that are not returnable, return conditions, and return options.
Offer various ways to return items
Some of the common ways to do so are in-store returns, curbside pickup, door-to-door pickup, and return via courier. Make it simple by including return labels and mailing instructions.
If you eliminate the hurdles of returning a product, they can ship it more quickly, allowing you to sell your products sooner.
You also get to leverage this potentially negative experience to gain customer loyalty and goodwill. By showing your customers that you prioritize their experience over profit, the relationship becomes more personal for them rather than just businesslike.
Provide refund options
Aside from returning their money, you can offer gift cards or exchange options. This is especially easy when people come to your store. Having a deeper understanding of their online buying behavior (on your app or website) will help your staff recommend products they might be interested in. Besides raising conversions, you earn brownie points for recognizing their needs.
6. Leverage Data to Create a Personalized Experience
The concept of offering product recommendations brings us to one of the most important elements of an omnichannel strategy: data.
Your customer’s experience is based on the data you collect. Analyzing their journeys across physical and digital channels is key to maintaining an omnichannel retail experience. It ties everything together.
Data makes the omnichannel retail world go round.
Presenting the right information through content requires appropriate data.
Understanding your customer journey requires relevant data.
But consumers are reluctant to share information, even when offered a discount. This study by Clarus Commerce shows that only 73% of respondents would share their email, 65% their name, and 56% their birthday. This makes the process of requesting, handling, and analyzing data a tricky one. Follow these tips for success:
Comply with data protection regulations
Protect your customers’ data 24/7 as part of your omnichannel strategy. Limit access to specific persons in your team. Once you follow the minimum security standards, test your site for vulnerabilities now and then. Ensure that all the online tools you’re using are risk-free and up-to-date for a safe customer experience.
Gather insights where you can
When you collect data, ask only for important information that you can use for personalized experiences. Example: asking your apparel customers about their fit preferences, so you can give them style and size recommendations whenever they shop.
You can also glean insights from inventory, returns, and user behavior when they use your website or app. For instance, if your shopper returns a product because it’s too big, you can use that information the next time they visit your shop or website.
Analyze and use tools that provide you with the right customer and inventory insights
Maintaining accurate and up-to-date data about customers is essential for targeting customers with the right messaging. Look for tools that offer integration capabilities, such as Megaventory. When you use platforms that talk to each other, you create one source of truth. Updated customer information data gives you the power to create better customer profiles so they can have a personalized journey. Updated inventory insights, on the other hand, allow you to meet your customers’ needs and ensure product availability.
Omnichannel Strategy and Its Multiple Benefits
An omnichannel strategy fulfills the needs of customers no matter how they prefer to buy your products. With its integration and automation, it provides the following advantages:
Increased retention rate. Research shows you’ll retain happier and satisfied customers in the long run by offering a convenient, seamless shopping experience.
A wider customer base. The key drivers of acquiring new customers are trust, commitment, communication, and conflict resolution, all of which are addressed through omnichannel retailing.
Improved overall efficiency. With an omnichannel strategy, you can automate the laborious parts of your operation, such as the distribution of marketing content, customer data analysis, order tracking and fulfillment, and reports and analytics. Especially when it comes to inventory visibility, 47% of retailers see it as their top priority investment to best handle their stock positions.
Boosted brand image. Brand consistency contributes to revenue growth by 30%. A centralized omnichannel strategy can reach your customers and prospects anytime, anywhere.
Enhanced in-store experience. 83% of customers say they prefer a personalized in-store experience. And if retailers can offer that, they are more likely to increase their revenue by 20 to 30%. These numbers are a call for you to integrate your omnichannel strategy and inspire a unique in-store shopping experience.
Increased inventory turnover. The higher the inventory turnover rate, the lower the maintenance costs—thus, increasing your profit. With the right omnichannel strategy, distributing the inventory for each channel is made easier by transparency.
A Solid Omnichannel Strategy Can Help Your Business Succeed
Focusing on content, customer journey, design, inventory, returns, and data can help you come up with an omnichannel approach that will delight your customers.
Once you do, you can gain a higher retention rate, a wider customer base, improved efficiency, and customer service, as well as an increased inventory turnover, all of which lead to increased sales.
Are you ready to start your omnichannel journey?
Jul Domingo is a freelance writer for retail management and marketing platforms.