What is Omnichannel Retail?
Omnichannel retail is a term used to describe a specific approach to sales where retailers work to give their customers a convenient shopping experience by building an intuitive system that makes it easy to shop, regardless if they’re shopping from a smartphone, tablet, or a brick-and-mortar store.
While this definition can make Omnichannel retail seem pretty straightforward, it’s important to note that it is a much more complex topic than it’s made out to be and involves more components than most people realize.
In reality, omnichannel retail is an umbrella term that can be used to describe the “customer-first approach” that many brands are adopting, especially in the age of the internet where the buyer’s journey contains more steps than ever before.
Consider this, your current TV is becoming outdated and you’re looking to upgrade to a model that is more current and comes with all of the trendy amenities that are popular at the moment. So you first check Amazon to see their selection and get an idea of which TV would be best suited for your preferences. You land on a 4K Samsung smart TV that is priced at $500. So you begin checking other websites to see if you can find a better deal than the one you found on Amazon and you end up landing on Best Buy’s website because they are also selling the TV that you’re looking for, as well as having a special deal where you can get a discount by trading in your old one. You like the deal but you want to ensure that the TV looks as nice in person as it does on the computer, so you go to a brick-and-mortar Best Buy location so that you can examine the product for yourself. It is just as impressive in person and you end up going home with your brand new TV.
The situation above is commonplace throughout all over the world today and is a large aspect of many retailers’ strategies to stay successful in this internet first world that we live in. It also serves as a perfect example of the true strengths of a proper retail strategy centered around omnichannel retail. It is much more than having a pretty online store, it is about optimizing the buyer’s journey so that online and brick-and-mortar are working in unison to provide the best possible shopping experience so that it’s convenient for the customer and leads to major profits for the brands that utilize it.
How Online and Physical Stores Work in Unison
When you break down the term omnichannel, you’ll notice that the prefix, Omni, means all or of all things. Which explains why the connection between online and physical stores are considered to be under the umbrella of omnichannel retail. To put things into perspective, global online sales exceeded $2 trillion in 2017 and are expected to at least double by the year 2021. Even with the tremendous growth that brands are expecting to receive from their online stores, it should be noted that 85% of all retail sales are still made in brick-and-mortar stores. These facts work to show how brands aren’t seeing e-commerce as a way to replace their physical stores, but rather as an avenue to complement their physical stores and to assist buyer’s throughout their journey of researching and eventually purchasing products. Since physical stores aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, you still need operations in place that help you create and facilitate your employee scheduling process. To help you out with this, take a look at how Deputy’s features can make your life easier and free up your time by clicking on the button below to start your trial.
This is because there will always be the people that prefer to research products online before shopping for them in person, and there will always be the people that prefer to examine a product in person at a physical store before purchasing them online. These channels aren’t competing with each other, they are actually built to help one another. That’s why you see a mega-brand like Amazon purchasing a physical retailer like Whole Foods, even though they made a name for themselves through the world of e-commerce, they still understand the value of physical stores and know that they’re never going away. To give some real-world examples of omnichannel retail in action, take a look at some of the strategies that were set in action after Amazon made the purchase of Whole Foods.
- The physical retailer helped out Amazon minimize the cost of returns, delivery, and marketing.
- Amazon has begun to sell items like their Echo in Whole-Foods locations.
- Amazon has also installed lockers in Whole-Foods locations specifically so that people can come in and receive their Amazon orders in person rather than the mail. Which has greatly boosted what they call “micro visits”, which are visits that are three to five minutes in length and work as another avenue to boost sales because they are likely to purchase something small like a drink or snack while they’re picking up their packages.
- They’ve installed special discounts for Amazon Prime members, as well as free delivery when ordering from Whole Foods.
The way that Amazon and Whole Foods have come together to build a beneficial relationship for both companies displays just how useful omnichannel retail can be for brands as long as they use it correctly and play to its strengths.
Ways to Improve Your Omnichannel Retail Strategy
Now that you’re better aware of what Omnichannel retail is exactly and how it benefits commerce businesses all over the world, let’s take a look at some strategies that can be used to strengthen your existing Omnichannel strategy so that you’re getting the most out of it.
1. Utilize Mobile to its fullest extent
We all understand that mobile optimization is crucial for any retailer that chooses to make the move online, but many brands often make the mistake of thinking an online store or an app is the end of the process. Mobile is an omnipresent entity in terms of location and customer service, and retailers should make sure to take advantage of both qualities. An example is by sending them a coupon through their app or email whenever they’re in the vicinity of a physical location so that they’re more likely to come inside. Another example is sending customers an email survey after they leave so you can get a better idea of the areas that could use some improvement.
2. Put an end to “Showrooming”
If you’re unaware, showrooming is a term used to describe when people come to your store only to examine how a product looks and feels in-person so they can be sure of their choice before purchasing it online. While some may think that the customer will end up purchasing from your online outlet, they are just as likely to purchase from Amazon or any one of your other competitors. The best way to combat this is by offering promotions that are better than online and by pushing these deals so that customers are more likely to purchase whenever they’re in stores.
3. Better customer service
No matter how much you invest into your marketing, it will be for nothing if you don’t put forth the same effort into strengthening your customer service through all of your channels. This means responding to customer comments and complaints as soon as possible, as well as even utilizing a chat box so they can speak in real-time and have their questions answered quickly. Nowadays, brands are expected to uphold the same level of customer service in their online stores that they do in their physical stores.
4. Provide top-notch content across all of your platforms
When you’re buying a pair of running shoes on the internet, you won’t be able to make a purchasing decision based on a single image of the front of the shoe. You want a full 360-degree view of the shoes that you’re able to interact with so that you’re sure it looks nice at all angles. Not only that but you want to be able to read a couple paragraphs of product information detailing how these running shoes were specifically designed to absorb shock and support your angles while connecting with your smartphone to tell you your heart rate and how far you’ve jogged. All of this information has supported your choice and played a part in you eventually purchasing the shoes from the website.
This is an example of why it’s so important for retailers to provide quality product information on their online sites. No matter how convincing your physical location was, if your online store is deemed as not up to par, then customers will not hesitate to head to a competitor that will make them more comfortable with their purchase.
Let’s examine this pair of running shoes on Amazon for a second, you’re able to see multiple images of the shoe at different angles so that you’re more confident of the look, a full product description detailing different qualities of the shoe down to its exact weight, as well as a slew of customer reviews that often number in the thousands. This level of consistent product content is why Amazon is seen as the leader of e-commerce and is why you need to put the same level of detail into your own product pages. It may seem simple, but is still the foundation of any good omnichannel experience.
5. Customers want (and need!) transparency
More and more people are using online as a way to check if their items are in stock at the physical locations, as well as ordering online and picking it up in the store. That’s why you should make the investment into cloud technology that is updated in real time so that customers are always aware of whether or not their items are in stock at the store. Also, you should build your systems so that they, at least, receive an email telling them whenever their items have arrived in store. If you want to go the extra mile, then set up alerts so that customers waiting on a specific item know exactly when their item is restocked.
Omnichannel vs Multichannel
Now that you’re better aware of what Omnichannel is and how it can be used to better your retail experience, let’s take some time to go over multichannel retail, which is in the same realm as Omnichannel but differs in very distinct ways.
What is Multichannel Retail?
If omnichannel retailers are seen as a unification of all the sales & marketing avenues for a particular retailer, then multichannel is when those retailers choose to keep their physical retailers and online outlets as completely separate entities that don’t even share the same inventory. While they are both still focused on selling through physical & digital outlets, the customer experience is entirely different.
If you’re a customer that is considering buying a product from a multichannel retailer, you won’t be able to check the inventory online for in-store products because they are seen as totally separate in the eyes of the retailer and have their own stock.
While the multichannel strategy may prove to still be effective for certain retailers, it should be stated that more and more customers are viewing a retailer’s online store as an extension of their physical store and are expecting more from them in regards to customer service as well as their buyer’s journey. In the eyes of a typical consumer, a retailer’s online store is a direct extension of them and should be working in conjunction with every other component of the retailer.
As we grow as a society and become more interconnected than ever before, it’s only expected that retailers use the opportunity to offer consumers a singular buying experience that makes shopping easier than ever before. With the advent of mobile technology, apps, and other tools that make shopping through e-commerce easier than ever before, retailers have a duty to provide the most intuitive experience for their customers as possible.
One way of ensuring an intuitive experience for your customers is by making sure your employees are on-time and ready to work each and every day. If you want to learn more on how Deputy can help your business strengthen its employee scheduling process, click on the button below to book a demo and learn more.
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