The way people shop and interact with retail brands and online marketplaces has changed significantly in the last couple of years. The pandemic led to a boom in online shopping via websites, apps and social media platforms, and this growth has continued.
Omnichannel retailers are the ones winning in this new playing field.
Retailers understand the need for a variety of channels, and the figures speak for themselves, showing what a major trend this is.
In a recent survey, 45 per cent of businesses said they had integrated new channels to their offering during the pandemic, including social media or social selling (48 per cent), a website or online store (29 per cent), a mobile app (27 per cent), alternative ordering and delivery options (24 per cent) and quick response (QR) codes (21 per cent). Of those surveyed, 80 per cent said they were planning to keep them.
The reasoning behind the addition of these new channels? The majority of brands surveyed said they wanted to reach out to their customer community in new ways, to deliver their products and services in new ways and to respond to customer demand. Research shows that customers purchased 250 per cent more frequently when interacting with a brand with three or more channels compared with shoppers who engaged with only one channel.
What Is Omnichannel Marketing?
The approach of omnichannel marketing focuses on offering a unified retail experience across different platforms, also called channels. Websites, web apps, mobile apps, social media networks and even real-world shops are all examples of different channels.
For retailers, omnichannel allows customers to move seamlessly between physical and digital shopping platforms, giving customers what they want - how and where they want it.
Omnichannel vs Multichannel: What’s The Difference?
If omnichannel and multichannel sound like the same thing to you, then you’ll be glad to know that you’re right - but also wrong.
Both omnichannel and multichannel are about connecting with customers through multiple platforms - websites, apps, social media and real-world shops.
But from that point, they differ.
Most companies understand that the audiences for each of their channels vary slightly - and in some cases, significantly - and so with multichannel marketing, they tailor their marketing campaigns, customer experience and messaging accordingly.
Taking a different approach, omnichannel’s goal is to make all the platforms provide the same or a very similar customer experience, with almost identical brand design, UX and messaging.
Why Omnichannel is Important
A major benefit of omnichannel is the overall customer experience - every interaction with the company feels seamless.
This means there’s no learning curve or frustration level for customers, which risks losing them - and their purchases. You ensure their shopping baskets, favourites, recently viewed items and loyalty information work across all platforms so they can browse on their computer, then open their phone app to continue where they left off, for example.
With omnichannel retail, higher engagement is coupled with higher purchase rates. Inditex’ flagship clothing chain store Zara, for instance, implemented an omnichannel approach of digital and physical channels which included three additional features, Click and Go, Click and Find and Click and Try. The result? Inditex grew digital sales by 74 per cent in Q2 2020 – a record - at a time when competition was announcing losses.
There are key marketing benefits for the company, too.
In multichannel marketing, you’re pulling in data on different types of strategies, which can make it hard to understand what works best for your overall customer base.
With omnichannel, however, it’s easier to see what’s working - and what isn’t - for your overall customer base by looking at the aggregated data. For companies whose customer base is broadly similar across all platforms, this can be a much more effective strategy.
How Omnichannel Benefits Consumers
Customers are defining the way they shop – on desktop, mobile and in-store platforms. They want to be able to buy on all of these channels, easily and without worry.
Brands have found that customers will use multiple channels to shop. They might start on one device - for instance, browsing on the retailer’s website after receiving a personalised email - , then complete their purchase in a store whilst using a loyalty QR code on their mobile to get a reward.
Because omnichannel marketing allows brands to personalise these experiences, customers benefit from a wide-range of options, from shipping or payment methods to targeted loyalty programmes based on their needs/habits.
How to Create an Omnichannel Strategy
Here are four steps to help you go about creating an omnichannel strategy:
Know your audience
Firstly, it’s crucial to first know who your target customer is. Invaluable information such as age, location and gender will allow you to understand what their buyer journey might look like and where they might be more likely to shop. Younger generations may prefer social shopping, for instance.
Fine-tune your business model
Secondly, you will need to adjust your business model, and integrate existing siloed structures, teams or channels – your back-end processes should be as integrated as your shopper-facing channels.
Map out your channels
Thirdly, make good use of your analytics to find out how customers responded to your messages across various existing channels. This will allow you to map out your omnichannel strategy by choosing which marketing platforms to include and to add, as well as formulate the right messaging across all channels.
Find the right digital partner
Finally, to successfully implement your omnichannel strategy and meet the evolving needs and expectations of your customers, it is essential you invest in the right tools.
Businesses can today benefit from cheaper and faster capabilities offered by digital partners, who provide products and services key to a centralised strategy, from setting up e-shops infrastructure, digital marketing tools and loyalty tech, to customer-service solutions as well as inventory management and delivery.
As businesses and markets evolve, so too will omnichannel strategies. Finding the right digital partner is essential for agile brands to stay ahead of the curve.
Contact ADAMAPP today to discuss how our experience in bringing complex digital projects to life can help your business needs.