Your Practical Guide to Getting Started with Omnichannel Commerce
In today’s hyper-connected world, customers interact with brands on multiple channels – online, offline, desktop, mobile, and social media. Retailers are capitalizing on this consumer behavior by allowing customers to connect, share, buy, and sell on all these channels. But this multichannel approach with disjointed paths to purchase is falling short of what today’s digitally empowered customers expect from a seamless shopping experience.
By connecting the dots between all these channels, omnichannel commerce promises a cohesive, connected, and truly seamless customer experience at any given touchpoint. Multiple studies suggest that in the modern ecommerce space, omnichannel experience can lure customers to spend as much as double in contrast to single or disconnected multiple channels.
However, implementing the omnichannel strategy is easier said than done. But once you have done your homework on where to look and what to do, it rather becomes just a matter of time and effort. To help you with that, here is a concise practical guide on how to begin with the omnichannel commerce.
Enable Social Commerce
Digital customers spend a good part of their day on social media. So, to enable an omnichannel commerce strategy, you first need to put an effective social commerce strategy in place.
Facebook buy buttons and Pinterest’s buyable pins are already around for a few years. More recently, Instagram and Snapchat (through 3rd party software) have also entered the space of direct selling on social media.
Leading ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Big Commerce, Kibo Commerce*, and others already offer inbuilt social commerce capabilities to enable retailers to deliver customers a connected shopping experience – where customers can come to know about a product at one channel, add to order at another, and checkout at a third one.
Additionally, it goes without saying that besides enabling social commerce, you also need to take care of everything in-between to leverage its full potential. This includes identifying most relevant channels, using hashtags, running ads, producing engaging content, interacting with followers, and so on.
Leverage Popular Marketplaces
The bitter truth of the current retail ecosystem is that the likes of Amazon and Walmart are playing at a level way higher than fair. As a modern retailer, you cannot beat Amazon in Amazon’s game (despite constant innovation and consumer-centric services), but you can play a different game.
The whole point of omnichannel commerce is to provide customers a seamless shopping experience wherever they are. Today, Amazon and other retail giants like Alibaba, Rakuten, Lazada, and Flipkart (in their respective markets) have become the platforms where most buyer journeys begin.
Stats: September 2017
Retailers must leverage the popularity of these online channels (and other niche-specific marketplaces) by being present on them and seamlessly connect back to their website/store.
Additionally, coupling your online omnipresence with marketing tactics like retargeting further enables you to engage customers back into their buying journey, as well as improves brand recall.
Capitalize on Mobile Commerce
With so much noise in the market – ads and promotional messages from numerous retailers offering similar services/products – keeping customers engaged throughout the checkout process is becoming increasingly challenging.
The prospect of omnichannel commerce is primarily addressing that challenge. And mobile is certainly the most powerful tool in that context; as it is accessible anytime, anywhere.
But there is a difference between a business mobile app and providing omnichannel experience. For omnichannel experience, your mobile app must be integrated with all the other digital and physical channels your brand is present on. Customers must be able to initiate, resume, or conclude purchases part of which happened on a different channel, digital or physical.
A couple of example in this context: Starbucks mobile app allows customers to collect stars (reward points) for in-store purchases. Crate and Barrel lets customers scan items at their stores and purchase online through the mobile app.
Implementing the omnichannel strategy primarily constitutes of a) identifying touchpoints across all the relevant channels, b) deploying the technology setup, and c) maintaining the engagement level on all these touchpoints with valuable content and letting customers take desired actions smoothly.
It is an ongoing process where you have to continuously innovate based on customers’ constantly changing demands. By and large, it is about coming up with new ways to help your customers, which eventually benefit your business’s bottom line.
* We are attending Kibo Summit 2018 (May 15-17, 2018) as its Platinum Technology Partners. The theme of the summit will be ‘Next Generation Innovation and Services in the Retail Sector’. Connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay updated.