What is ecommerce omnichannel sales

What is omnichannel and why you should use it

Omnichannel retail and marketing tailored to it are becoming more and more important.

Count yourself: How many apps do you have on your mobile phone? How many social media platforms are you on? How many internet-enabled devices are in the room as you read this?

This is exactly what omnichannel is.

With the development of technology, our daily life is more and more interwoven with the Internet. This fact has a particularly strong impact on retail: Consumers expect to be able to buy what they want, when they want it and how they want it.

Whether in store, on a website, via an app or on social media - consumers now move seamlessly between different channels.

Companies have to do the same.

In this article, you will learn what omnichannel marketing means in e-commerce and why you need it too. We'll also introduce you to three leading brands as examples of perfectly orchestrated omnichannel marketing.

So let's jump right in.

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What does omnichannel mean?

In short, omnichannel (also often spelled omni channel) is the ultimate marketing and sales approach.

But let's take a closer look at the whole thing.

The term “omnichannel” refers to an integrated approach to marketing, sales and operations activities.

This allows consumers to shop across multiple channels and devices while enjoying a unified customer experience.

For this reason, omnichannel retail encompasses and integrates all forms of online and offline sales, including:

  • E-commerce websites or online shops.
  • Ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and AliExpress.
  • Native selling on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
  • Stationary shops and pop-up shops.
  • Social media advertising and retargeting on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
  • Other online advertising and retargeting methods, such as Google Ads.
  • Extremely personalized email marketing.
  • Mobile websites and apps.
  • SMS and messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger.
  • Any other sales and marketing activity that a company might use.

In omnichannel marketing, data is collected from a wide variety of channels in order to standardize all these activities.

In this way, customers benefit from a seamless, personal customer journey - regardless of which type of interaction with a brand they choose.

At this point it is worth taking a look at the dictionary - do not worry, we will make it short and painless: "Omni" is a Latin word that means something like "everything".

It is commonly used with words like "omnipotent" and "omnipresent", which means "have unlimited knowledge and power" and "be everywhere".

With this in mind, "Omni" is the ideal vocabulary for a strategy that enables companies to track, understand, and customize the experience of each individual customer at every touchpoint.

As I said: it's the ultimate approach to marketing and sales.

What can an omnichannel strategy look like?

Remember, omnichannel retail is about communicating with consumers across multiple sales channels and knowing exactly where they are in the customer lifecycle.

With this in mind, let's consider a hypothetical example of what an omnichannel solution might look like:

The customer relationship begins

Sarah visits a Facebook page via Facebook Shopping, where she discovers and buys a size 8 sweater.

She will receive her sweater complete with an insert advertising other clothing and accessories that are not listed on the Facebook page. A discount is also offered on the insert and details about the brand's loyalty program are provided.

The customer relationship deepens

Sarah visits the landing page for the discount, which in turn causes the Facebook pixel installed on it to advertise her on Facebook and Instagram.

Still on the landing page, Sarah puts a pair of size 8 leggings in her shopping cart, but does not complete her purchase. Sarah immediately receives an email with the leggings that have not been purchased. This is combined with a time-dependent discount campaign to make the purchase even more attractive.

In the meantime, the retargeting ads on Facebook and Instagram are promoting the leggings Sarah put in her shopping cart, as well as the other clothes she looked at when she visited the online shop.

The ads also exclude all size 8 items that are currently sold out.

Sarah clicks on one of the Facebook ads to return to her shopping cart. She buys the leggings and a beanie hat using her discount code.

She receives an order confirmation by email, which also introduces the brand's recommendation program.

Personalization is intensifying

At this point, the Facebook and Instagram retargeting ads stop showing leggings and beanies - items Sarah has already bought. Instead, they are now focusing on related winter clothing like gloves, scarves, and coats.

Next, Sarah receives an email informing her of a pop-up shop near her. She will also receive information about the loyalty points she has earned from her previous purchases and how they can be used as a discount in the pop-up shop.

Sarah visits the pop-up shop with a friend who buys a pair of gloves while using the "referral program". This gives both of them a voucher for 10 euros.

Customers are built into brand advocates

Subsequent emails motivate Sarah to check out new looks on Pinterest. They are also encouraged to follow the brand on various social media platforms to collect additional loyalty points and post photos of their purchases with a branded hashtag on Instagram.

Sarah puts photos of her new look online, which the brand publishes as a repost on Instagram, further strengthening Sarah's relationship with the brand.

These reposts are set as so-called “Shoppable Post” in order to advertise the articles presented by Sarah.

It goes on and on ...

This example shows how creating an all-encompassing customer journey means integrating every aspect of your business - from marketing and sales to inventory management.

Chris Shaw, director of product marketing at Manhattan Associates, a supply chain and omnichannel technology company, says:

“When the customer places this order [online], calls the call center, or walks into the store, we try to do everything we can to put the customer and the order back together. Because without the other's context, they don't make sense. It's not just about the transactions that the customer has made in the respective store, but also all of the interactions that they have had outside of the store: the occasions on which they interacted with the call center, their interactions via social media or his messages by email. "

Well-done omnichannel marketing should enable consumers to seamlessly transition across multiple channels while guiding them deeper into the brand experience.

Omnichannel vs. multichannel

Is omnichannel the same as multichannel?

No, it's not like that.

In multichannel marketing, a company uses different marketing channels to interact with consumers and personalize their experiences.

However, these channels are managed separately and function independently of one another.

In multichannel marketing, the possibility for consumers to move between different channels is severely limited or simply not available.

Different departments and teams within a company may communicate with each other, but their efforts are not consistent.

The graphic below illustrates the differences between multichannel and omnichannel:

Most modern companies trade on the basis of a multichannel marketing concept.

You are likely using Facebook advertising, email marketing campaigns, content marketing, native social selling, and much more. However, very few companies have really standardized these sales channels and expanded them on the basis of omnichannel integration.

And that begs the following question:

Why is an omnichannel strategy important?

The need for omnichannel retail was predicted long ago.

A 1995 Harvard Business Review article entitled "Do You Want to Keep Your Customers Forever?" Stated in the first paragraph:

“Customers, whether consumers or businesses, don't want more choices. They want exactly what they want - when, where and how they want it. Technology now enables companies to give them just that. "

How can companies meet this demand?

It all starts with personalization

"If you look back three, four, or five decades, personalization was simply the way business was done, at least by the best traders of the time," says Shaw.

“When my grandfather, who was an engineer and mechanic, came to his local hardware store, the employees there knew who he was and what kind of products he was buying. They even went so far as to include certain brands of tools in their offer simply because they knew Hugh Shaw was dedicated to that brand and would only buy that brand. Sometimes they even brought a delivery to my grandfather's on the way home. "

So can most marketers today be able to effectively personalize customer experiences?

That is still not the case today.

Unfortunately, only 12 percent of marketers are “very” or “extremely” satisfied with the level of personalization in their marketing efforts, while 38 percent are only “moderately” satisfied.

However, this is not because personalization is not valued.

In a 2018 study by Evergage / Researchscape International, an overwhelming majority (98 percent) of surveyed marketers agreed that personalization helps drive customer relationships. 74 percent stated that it had a "strong" or "extremely strong" effect.

In addition, 88 percent said that their customers and prospects actually expect a personalized experience.

If personalization is so important, why are marketers struggling to implement it?

The challenges of personalization

It all comes down to data and integration. Marketing professionals struggle to link insights across sales channels and track customer journeys that span multiple devices and platforms.

According to the research, 55 percent of marketers feel they don't have enough data and insight to personalize effectively. This is no surprise when you consider that, on average, customer data is stored across multiple systems.

In short: an extraordinary personalization is easy to accomplish as a small shop.

However, as a company grows and starts using e-commerce channels, personalization becomes far more difficult.

An integrated omnichannel strategy is the solution

Unifying all aspects of your business makes it possible to apply insights and data about individual customers throughout the entire customer journey.

And that is extremely effective.

McKinsey Research and Harvard Business Review worked with a retailer who operates hundreds of stores across the United States to learn more about the effectiveness of omnichannel retail.

In the study, the term “channel” was defined as any interactive point of contact with the retailer - online or offline, including websites, mobile applications and tablets in the store.

The 46,000 participants in the study were divided as follows:

  • 7 percent only bought online
  • 20 percent only bought in the local store
  • 73 percent used multiple channels

“The [omni-channel customers] didn't just use smartphone apps to compare prices or download a voucher. They were also enthusiastic users of digital in-store tools such as an interactive catalog, a price checker or tablets. They bought online and then picked up their order at the local store. They also bought in the shop and then had their purchases delivered. "

But that's not all.

The study also found that omni-channel customers, on average, spent 4 percent more in-store and 10 percent more online than single-channel customers.

The best thing about it:The more channels a customer used, the more they spent overall.

"Customers who used 4 or more sales channels spent an average of 9 percent more in the local store than customers who only used one channel."

Overall, this means: Omnichannel retail enables companies to offer their customers personalized, intuitive experiences across multiple points of contact - on a large scale.

3 brands that deliver remarkable omnichannel experiences

Now that you understand what omnichannel integration is all about and why it's so important, let's look at three real-world examples of how brands use omnichannel strategies to grow.

If you've just opened your Shopify store, you likely don't have a physical store or immersive technology. However, these examples show the potential and principles of omnichannel retail.

1. Crate and Barrel

Housewares store Crate and Barrel teamed up with omnichannel specialist CloudTags to test a program called “Mobile Totes” (translated as “mobile shopping bags”).

This enables Crate and Barrel to sync its physical stores and website and retarget online visitors to its local stores.

The program uses tablets in all business locations, which, based on the name of the program, serve as digital shopping bags. It allows customers to scan the product barcodes to learn more and read product reviews.

They can also email themselves their shopping list or checkout in the store, where a salesperson will put their items together for them.

If a customer does not buy any items but sends himself his list by email, Crate and Barrel can use the cookie ID to address him again with advertising for the products from his list after opening the email.

Crate and Barrel reported a 10% increase in sales within two months of testing Mobile Totes at its Skokie, Illinois, US store.

While some criticize this remarketing as scary, Joan King, VP of e-commerce at Crate and Barrel, disagrees: “More and more people actually expect us to know their shopping preferences. They expect us to keep getting smarter. "

2. Neiman Marcus

In 2017, the high-end fashion retailer Neiman Marcus received the IRT Retailer Innovation Award in the area of ​​customer engagement for its omni-channel efforts.

Neiman Marcus relies heavily on personalization. As Jeff Rosenfeld, VP of Customer Insight and Analytics, said: "Identity is at the core of personalization, and if you don't get it right, you won't be talking to the entire customer."

So how does Neiman Marcus implement his omnichannel solution?

If customers regularly look for clothes or shoes of a certain size, the website will remember them. The next time they browse the website, they'll see products in nearby store locations that currently have the item in stock.

Also, online shoppers are shown promotions that showcase relevant local events. The same is true for newly arrived items in nearby stores from brands that customers have shown interest in.

All of this is also integrated into email marketing and direct mail campaigns.

Neiman Marcus also integrates new technical aids into its omnichannel strategy, such as the "Memory Mirror".

With this magic mirror, visitors can record a 360-degree video of themselves trying on them.You can save this video to the mobile app to share with friends, or watch it again later when they're ready to buy in-store or online.

Neiman Marcus also has an app called Snap. Find. Shop. created.

Whenever users see a pair of shoes that they like, for example, they can use the app to take a photo, which is then searched for in Neiman Marcus' database with the help of intelligent image recognition.

If Neiman Marcus has something similar in stock, users can buy it right away in the app.

3. Timberland

The outdoor fashion brand Timberland is working hard to integrate their experiences in-store and online.

To this end, tablets and large screens called “TouchWalls” have been introduced in their stores.

These TouchWalls enable customers in the shops to find out about the purely online inventory. At the same time, they can create a shopping cart that brings together selected items and online products on site.

Customers can also use in-store tablets equipped with CloudTag technology and near field communication (NFC). Customers can use NFC to scan products to access additional product information and read online reviews. In addition, the tablet also advertises other products related to the products being scanned.

"You interact with consumers on a very personal level - you get directly communicated which products are of interest to them," says Kate Kibler, VP Direct-to-Consumer at Timberland. "This customer data is one of the most important things for a brand to grow."

Customers can also send their shopping lists to themselves by email. All of these activities are stored online in user profiles that allow Timberland to target users again with the appropriate articles.

Kibler explains: "What we do is simple: we give consumers the opportunity to shop how they want and when they want."

Summary: Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel or omnichannel marketing is still a relatively new approach.

Probably even the most sophisticated and cutting edge omnichannel examples are still only scratching the surface of what will soon be possible.

Omnichannel retail is about communicating with consumers and having a strong understanding of where they are on the customer journey - regardless of which communication channels they use to interact with a brand.

To deliver this seamless omnichannel experience, companies need to integrate all aspects of their business so that the data can be used and applied at every point of contact with the consumer.

And this applies to any business, regardless of its size - even if you have only a few points of contact with the consumer, such as B. an online shop, an Instagram account and automated email sequences.

Some people may find it intrusive, but omnichannel marketing is the future of retail.

What do you think about omnichannel marketing in e-commerce and personalization? How do you see the issue as a consumer? Do you find the approach intrusive or helpful? Let us know in the comments below.

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