Expert Advice for High-Growth Businesses

What is Omnichannel and Will It Really Make a Difference?

Christiane Soto
Marketing Manager - SMB

Ten years ago one of the most significant retail trends was well underway. From Mervyn’s to Linen’s and Things; from KB Toys to Kirklands; from Circuit City to 84 Lumber, retail store closings touched every geography and every retail size and segment.

The reason was simple. The internet was slowly changing the face of retail. Cyber Monday had garnered the same amount of mindshare (and mania) as its older counterpart―Black Friday.

Ten years later, the percent of retail sales conducted as e-commerce transactions (web, phones/tablets, social media platforms, kiosks, and digital assistants) hit almost (but not quite) 10 percent of total retail sales.

But wait a minute; I know what you are thinking. Those are surprisingly low numbers, considering all the attention brick-and-mortar store closings are getting. The truth is much more nuisance. Yes, stores are closing, but people are still buying in stores. No one wants to sit at home all day, everyday, and shop online. But what has changed is our definition of a great customer experience.

Buyers are not just shopping in-stores, even when they are inside the store. Instead, they are checking prices, comparing product features, looking up reviews, and pinging friends on social media for opinions.

Therefore, if your brand is not everywhere your customers are, you run of the risk of losing your customers to other retailers and decimating your bottom line.

This is the concept of omnichannel. Omnichannel is said a lot, and (in many cases) the phrase has reached jargon-level status. Many people get it confused with “multi-channel", but they are different.

Omnichannel Retail Definition

An omnichannel retail strategy is an approach to sales and marketing that provides customers with a fully integrated shopping experience by combining user experiences from brick-and-mortar to all the other possible ways the user could possibly interact with your brand.

A multi-channel strategy is providing your customers the ability to interact with you on various platforms (store, website, promotional email, social media).  It all about casting your net out far and wide enough to grab as many would-be (and hopefully returning) customers as possible.

Confused? If so, here are some questions you can ask yourself to see if you are offering a true omnichannel strategy.

  • Can your customers browse in a store, scan a product with your app, and add it to their bag to purchase when they get home (maybe even in a different size or color)?
  • Can they browse your online store for new styles, explore those looks via social media, and get a coupon to redeem either online or in your store?
  • Are you utilizing digital technologies to help your customers find your locations, get rewarded for their loyalty, pre-order for pick-up, send gifts, view menus or inventory, or even avoid lines during check-out? (whew)
  • Can online shopping carts, favorite items, and wishlists be saved across a variety of devices (phone, tablet, laptop)?
  • Does your data connect from all purchases (online, in-store, etc.) to that loyal customers get a notification when suggested styles are released online or available in a store?

The goal? To have every interaction carry over to the next, no matter how, when, and where that interaction occurred.  The result? A customer experience that is personalized, easy, and consistent.

Omnichannel ROI

Two omnichannel powerhouses have provided the data that proves that there is mind-share, market share, and money to be made by migrating from a multi-channel mindset to an omnichannel mindset.

  • Crate & Barrel’s implementation of an omnichannel customer experience strategy resulted in a 10% revenue increase
  • Sephora’s extremely lucrative omnichannel marketing strategy has nurtured over 11 million customers who spend 15 times more than the average Sephora customer.

Another study by Business Insider found that shoppers who engaged on multiple channels made purchases more often. For example, 49 percent of those who utilize 10+ channels for engagement purchase from their favorite retailer once a week. Fifty-two percent of those who only use one channel, only buy from their favorite retailer once a month (or so).

Technology is the Key

To support a seamless, personalized customer experience (CX), you need a seamlessly integrated CX cloud solution. Connecting your brick-and-mortar and online worlds so that every interaction carries over to the next requires a fully-integrated back-office (ERP) and front-office (CX). Data has to be accessible and accurate to provide accurate inventory counts, align logistics requirements, and access purchase history (to enhance loyalty programs). In addition, you need that fully integrated, robust CX solution to utilize artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, chatbots, and blockchain to make product suggestions that resonate, reduce abandoned shopping cart rates, and improve supply chain accuracy and authenticity.

And that is where Oracle Customer Experience Cloud can help. Read our new ebook to learn more.

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