If the past few years have taught us anything, it is just how beneficial the multi-channel sales strategy has been for retailers all over the world. But now there’s a new strategy on the rise that combines best practices from both online and offline retail and brings the customer experience to a whole new level. It is called omnichannel. And this post shows you exactly what it means, how it can benefit your business, and how to put it into practice.
In a conventional multi-channel retail strategy, you sell your products through multiple, separate sales channels: real-life stores, your website and social media channels, for example.
Even though you probably sell the same products through all those channels, you probably offer different sales conditions depending on which channel your customer uses. For example, a customer who buys a product in your store cannot ask for you to ship it to their house for free, even though you might have given them free shipping if they’d bought the same product from your website.
There are specific benefits for each different sales channel. And these benefits are exactly why your customers choose one channel over the other. For example, a customer may prefer in-store shopping, because of the real-life service experience and interactivity. Another customer may prefer the convenience and anonymity of online shopping. Some prefer to purchase online and collect the products in store.
It is about offering your customers the same level of service and convenience, no matter which channel they buy from
Unified Commerce is a new sales strategy that combines the unique benefits of each of your various sales channels. It is about offering your customers the same level of service and convenience, no matter which channel they buy from. You can think of it as a way to remove unnecessary boundaries between your various sales channels, so that your customers benefit and engage even more. We’ll show you some examples a little further below.
The omnichannel approach reminds us that our customers are all equally valuable. So, we should offer them a consistent customer experience each time they interact with our brands.
This is a shift away from the old “silo” mentality of multi-channel, in which we somehow see an online customer as being fundamentally different from an in-store customer.
Omnichannel creates a customer experience that is more flexible and more in line with the expectations of today’s customers. Since most customers are now familiar and happy with the convenience of online shopping, it is important to offer them that same level of convenience when they shop in-store.
By improving the customer experience, you grow your customer base and generate more repeat business. You’ll also win new business through referrals. This is why omnichannel is quickly becoming a major retail trend.
There are already plenty of great examples of hybrid omnichannel models in the retail world. For example:
These are all solid omnichannel strategies that have gained wide acceptance among retailers and customers over the past few years. But which omnichannel models do we expect to become more prevalent in the near future? Here are a few trends to watch out for.
Offering flexible in-store payment methods is becoming increasingly valuable. Retailers must now do everything they can to appeal to customers who are accustomed to the flexibility of online shopping. It is a good time to start thinking of how you can implement more customer-friendly payment options into your offline shopping.
Why should the same customer be faced with two different sets of payment options, depending on whether they buy online or in-store? In some cases, such as buy-now-pay-later, there may be legal hurdles that still need to be overcome before the payments industry is ready to offer those options in-store. Meanwhile, many major retailers have already embraced digital payment options, such as digital wallets, in their offline shops.
Omnichannel is a powerful strategy for boosting the customer experience and growing your business. By giving your customers the best of both offline and online shopping, you cater to their expectations and show that your brand is fully in step with the hybrid world we’re living in.
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