Omnichannel eCommerce describes an approach to online selling that provides customers with a fully-integrated, consistent brand experience regardless of which, or how many, touchpoints the customer visits on the path-to-purchase.This strategy involves more than guaranteeing that brands and products are available on different channels. Omnichannel eCommerce requires a comprehensive philosophy that ensures a unified shopping experience that extends to every possible customer touchpoint: from in-store to online, from mobile browsing, brand-owned websites, third-party marketplaces to social media platforms, and every between point. A survey from Salesforce found that 75% of consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage with a brand. An omnichannel eCommerce strategy is a key to meeting customer expectations and providing a satisfactory, engaging experience.
It takes a lot of effort to make omnichannel work; however, that effort pays off for retailers in the end. A study of 46,000 shoppers by the Harvard Business Review found that omnichannel shoppers are more valuable to retailers: customers that engage with a brand on four or more channels have a 10% higher average spend online and 9% higher in store, on average, than those who use a single channel.
The HBR study corresponds with a IDC retail study, which found that retailers with a strong omnichannel eCommerce strategy saw a 15-35% increase in an average transaction; with shoppers that use multiple channels as touchpoints showing a 30% higher lifetime value than those that use only one.
To implement a successful omnichannel eCommerce strategy, a retailer must have:
A business must know its customers and have a deep understanding of the customer’s path to purchase. This entails visualizing the different ways that a customer can interact with a brand and making every interaction consistent and meaningful. Omnichannel customer focus can be used to create a bond between brand and audience, a relationship strengthened by presenting consistent messaging, communications, and interactions as part of an omnichannel eCommerce experience.
Data analytics can help to achieve an understanding of the customer journey, as well as measure the success rate and ROI of marketing efforts. Data analytics, used correctly, can help a company to optimize everything from the supply chain to targeted marketing to warehousing, distribution, and logistics; all of which are vital to omnichannel eCommerce.
Perhaps most importantly, a company that intends to provide a true omnichannel eCommerce experience must have the correct tools in place to support this strategy. It is vital to have a unified order management system, to provide for inventory visibility across all channels. These tools ensure that inventory levels are accurate, with real-time synchronization to eliminate overselling, out-of-stock errors and shipping delays. Companies with strong omnichannel eCommerce strategies retain an average of 89% of customers, compared to 33% retention for companies with weak omnichannel strategies. To achieve retail success in a competitive omnichannel environment, it is crucial to create a customer experience that is consistent, with seamless transitions between brand touchpoints.
It takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work to create and implement a viable omnichannel eCommerce experience. And, for the enormous amount of effort it takes to provide this experience, it must all be invisible to the customer. However, a strong omnichannel strategy benefits businesses by improving the customer experience, strengthening the bond between customer and brand, and increasing retention.
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