Omnichannel ecommerce may seem like a hassle, but its benefits are undeniable
Omnichannel retail, also known as omnichannel ecommerce, is not only the future of business – it’s the cutting-edge of online retail today.
If you’re not implementing it, you’re going to lose out to your competitors who are.
According to the report “U.S. Cross-Channel Retail Forecast, 2015 to 2020,” Forrester Research Inc. predicts that online sales in the United States will reach $523 billion by 2020, up 56% from $335 billion in 2015.
If you want a piece of this market share, you’ve got to know what omnichannel ecommerce means, why it’s important, and how to execute it correctly.
That’s exactly what we cover in today’s post.
Let’s dive in.
What is Omnichannel Ecommerce?
A completely online and offline integrated shopping experience.
This isn’t just multi-channel ecommerce, where you sell on your site and a 3rd-party ecommerce website.
This is a cross-channel ecommerce strategy, where you have a physical store, plus a shopping cart on your website, plus shopping carts on many other 3rd-party websites.
Today’s consumers are not loyal to any particular shopping channel.
They jump from one to the next fluidly – and they expect their favorite brands to be sold by all their favorite ecommerce platforms.
The goal of omnichannel ecommerce is to deliver a consistent, seamless experience across all channels.
This may sound daunting, but the benefits are undeniable…
Why is Omnichannel Retail so Valuable?
According to a study from the Harvard Business Review (HBR), 7% of participants were online-only shoppers while 20% were store-only shoppers.
The majority of participants, 73%, used multiple channels during their shopping journey. These are omnichannel customers, and they’re the most valuable customers you can have.
- They spent on average 4% more on every shopping occasion in the store
- They spent on average 10% more online than single-channel customers
But the most surprising part of the study is this:
Customers who used 4+ shopping channels spent 9% more in the store, on average, than those who only used one channel.
There’s a common worry amongst retailers that the lack of loyalty to a specific brand or ecommerce site can hurt their sales in the long-term.
But HBR’s study reveals that the opposite is true:
When participants conducted research on the retailer’s website or the website of other retailers, they spent 13% more in-store than other omnichannel shoppers.
In fact, within 6 months of an omnichannel shopping experience, these customers had a 23% higher rate of repeat shopping at their favorite retailer’s store and were more likely to recommend that brand to their family and friends.
Are you starting to see the power of omnichannel ecommerce?
By delivering this experience correctly, you’ll have customers who spend more, who become more loyal, and who spread your brand through word-of-mouth more often.
Now, you just need to know how to create an omnichannel experience.
How do You Implement an Effective Omnichannel Ecommerce Strategy?
Omnichannel ecommerce is still very young. The suggestions we lay out below are simply ways to begin designing your strategy around some proven principles.
To create the best omnichannel strategy, you have to observe what works for you, what works for your customers, and what’s not working at all and needs to change.
Focus on measuring and testing, not setting and forgetting.
To do that, here are a few ways to begin:
Sell on Every Platform
You don’t have an omnichannel ecommerce strategy unless you’re selling everywhere, all the time, on every device and every platform.
OK, you probably can’t sell on every platform, but you can probably sell on more platforms than you are currently.
Just selling on your website and Amazon are not going to cut it.
Ideally, you want to be on all platforms that measurably increase your social media sales, online sales, and in-store sales.
Here’s a 4-step process to make this easier for you:
- Start with only a few social media platforms at first, and get those right: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, for example.
- Improve your shopping cart using our tips later in this post.
- Branch off into 3rd-party ecommerce sites like Amazon, Shopify, and WooCommerce.
- Keep doing what works and try something else for the strategies that don’t work.
Optimize Mobile Commerce
According to Gartner, Inc., mobile engagement behavior will drive mobile commerce revenue to 50% of U.S. digital commerce revenue.
Here are a few tips on optimizing for mobile commerce:
- Optimize your mobile site speed
- Disable your popups or sidebars as they’re annoying and hard to close on a mobile device
- Add a shopping cart at the top of the screen
- Design your mobile experience for fingers, touch, and people
Optimize Your Product Sourcing
According to Frost and Sullivan, online B2B revenue will reach $6.7 billion by 2020.
If you want to sell B2C, then consider using B2B marketplaces to source your products cost-effectively.
By tapping into this market, you can increase your margins and have more control over your inventory, while A/B testing products to find the winners in your market.
Optimize Your Shopping Cart
You should do everything in your power to fight shopping cart abandonment.
According to the Baymard Institute, the average documented rate of shopping cart abandonment is 69%.
If there’s anything worse than no customers, it’s having potential customers get all the way to the checkout page only to click away.
Here are some suggestions on optimizing your online checkout:
- Use the fewest forms possible on your checkout page
- Secure your web page with HTTPS
- Use high-quality images
- Use Paypal in addition to credit card processing
- Use testimonials
Track Your Inventory Across all Sales Channels
Omnichannel ecommerce relies on omnichannel inventory management.
In addition to all the things you can do on your website and 3rd-party sites to improve the shopping experience, you need to make sure you can track your inventory across all your sales channels.
What you need is a centralized, cloud-based inventory management system that tracks sales, shipments, deliveries, etc. on every platform.
Without this critical tool, you could quickly lose track of how much inventory you have in stock, leading to stockouts, which would result in a loss of revenue and customers.
With this tool, you’ll always know how much stock you have and how much you need, automating your stocktaking process, streamlining your supply chain, and improving your ability scale your business online.
If you want to reap the benefits of omnichannel ecommerce, Then we suggest using a proven inventory management tool.