4 minute read
Omnichannel has been the buzz as mobile and digital channels become increasingly important to retail overall. However, becoming an omnichannel retailer involves a significant, management-driven effort and often means restructuring certain processes or areas of the business. While it’s not easy to do, the reward of becoming omnichannel is significant: increased customer engagement, increased loyalty, as well as sales growth.
Part 1 will introduce the basics and the benefits of omnichannel retailing.
Part 2 will look at integrating data and insights across channels. If we think of the first step toward becoming omnichannel as having multiple channels, then the second step is integrating data and information across those channels to create a seamless experience.
Part 3 will explore how omnichannel retailing impacts the customer experience, which areas can benefit most, and how retailers can make their own improvements.
Lastly, part 4 will look at some retailers doing omnichannel well and provide tips for success.
So without further ado, let’s jump into part 1.
Part 1: The Concept
Omnichannel retailing as a concept isn’t all that complicated, it’s about leveraging multiple channels and allowing shoppers to shop online, in-store, and in-app. In practice, it’s much more difficult than that.
Omnichannel started back in 2003 when Best Buy made the conscious effort to put shoppers at the center of a cross-channel shopping experience. While Best Buy was focused on combining desktop, catalogue, and in-store shopping, omnichannel’s big break seems to have come in 2007 with introduction of the iPhone and then tablets in 2010.
Today, mobile is one of the most important devices in the equation, as it bridges the gap between physical and digital retail. But while at one point it may have been enough to simply have multiple channels, today omnichannel retailing means integrating data and leveraging insights across all channels, creating a personalized and relevant shopping experience. In short, you can have a beautiful website, a mobile app, a Facebook page, a Snapchat profile, and a brick-and-mortar store – but if they don’t work together, it’s not omnichannel.
There has also been a drastic increase in the number of channels retailers need to integrate. While Best Buy had only focused on desktop, catalogue, and in-store, we’ve since added mobile, social, email, messaging, and many others as their own distinct channels. Moreover, you might even consider some of the major digital environments such as Uber, Airbnb, or Houzz as their own channels.
The challenge for retailers is not only integrating with existing channels, but being ready to adapt to new, undiscovered channels.
And who knows what kind of channels are waiting for us down the road.
Implementing an omnichannel strategy is a massive task, and naturally it begs the question, why do it? Is the benefit of becoming omnichannel worth the growing pains and opportunity cost?
Indeed, it is. Well worth it.
The most recent quarterly Omnichannel Index from PYMNTS sheds some light on just how important omnichannel retailing is becoming:
- 51% of purchases are online
- 32% of consumers plan to shop more on desktop and 25% plan to shop more on mobile
- 1 in 3 consumers say social media influences their purchases
- 38% of purchases are cross-channel, combining in-store and digital channels.
1 in 2 shoppers have used pick up in-store, and 70% of those shoppers have made an additional purchase when they returned to the store.
That covers the core concepts of omnichannel retailing. Next week we will continue with our series by digging deeper into integrating data and insights using multiple channels.