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Omnichannel Retailing: Definition & Best Practices

January 31, 2019
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In the past, retailers would sell products on individual channels – in-store, online, and third-party marketplaces – with no way to connect the experiences. Today, the practice of omnichannel retail solves this issue as it is an approach that unifies the purchase journey across channels. Nearly 75% of shoppers engage with retailers on multiple channels. Both businesses and customers benefit from this consistent experience that allows companies to meet customers where they are.

Ensuring inventory counts are accurate across all channels including in-store, online, and third-party marketplaces can be a daunting task without the right processes and technology. The omnichannel approach consolidates channels so retailers can efficiently manage inventory and sales from a single platform.

For retailers looking to adopt an omnichannel solution to grow their business, consider these best practices: leverage analytics, empower sales through fluidity, enable multiple payment methods, and create personalized experiences.


Leverage Analytics

Analytics is key when making business decisions. Given that customers make purchases using different channels and more specifically various devices, knowing how, when, and where they’re engaging can benefit marketing and sales strategies, ultimately helping the bottom line.

Retailers can use analytics to determine how much time customers are spending in-store before making a purchase or leaving, similar to recording session times for online browsing.

Use purchase history data to send customers relevant offers, advertising similar or complementary products. For example, if a customer comes into your retail store and purchases five pairs of sneakers, a retailer could offer a discount on their next sneaker purchase or give free pairs of socks through email, a mobile app, text message, or through direct mail.


Empower Sales Through Fluidity

Often customers will buy products online, only to be dissatisfied when they finally arrive. However, retailers who have fluidity across channels allow unhappy customers to return products purchased online in a brick and mortar store location.

Fluidity is not only limited to channels but can facilitate sales across stores as well. This is especially helpful in situations where products are not in stock at your store, and with this access, you can order it for a customer from a different location and have it delivered to them. This increases sales, customer happiness, and builds customer loyalty over time.


Enable Multiple Payment Methods

Beyond multiple channels to purchase products, customers also benefit when they can make purchases using their mobile devices. Simplifying the purchase process can incline more customers to finish their orders. Often, customers will abandon their shopping cart due to complicated processes or the checkout process taking too long. Mobile payment and chip-based credit cards are becoming the norm as customers strive for both security and convenience in the payment process.


Create Personalized Experiences

Retailers can use customization across channels to give customers a seamless experience based on their interests and purchase history. Some retailers may even give customers an opportunity to build a profile either on their website or mobile application to have this data stored in one place. Customers may feel greater engagement and be more inclined to complete sales.

Many customers want the convenience of online shopping while receiving items on the same day. Today, retailers offer customers buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) services. Customers will place an online order and have the order fulfilled at their local brick-and-mortar store within a few hours as opposed to the traditional warehouse model which would take several days. However, for this to work effectively retailers must have real-time inventory tracking across store locations and your websites must be able to check the inventory on the fly to ensure the product is in stock locally and to reserve the item for the customer. Customers could then pick up their products and enjoy them the very same day, enhancing the customer experience.

Engaging customers across channels with a seamless experience is one of the best ways to earn their continued business. For more insights on how you can maximize the benefits of omnichannel retailing, download a free copy of our eBook “5 Considerations for Omnichannel Retailers.”