Every eCommerce guru is talking about going omnichannel right now. But you’re probably a bit confused about what omnichannel retail actually is and whether it’s really important for your Shopify store.
Let’s get all your questions answered in this article. You ready?
We’re diving in!
What is omnichannel retail?
The name might make you feel like this concept is about being everywhere and selling on every channel that you can think of. But that’s not logical, especially since there are far too many channels popping up all the time for you to be able to keep up with them and conduct business over all of them.
Now you’re wondering, “If it doesn’t mean that I have to be everywhere, what does it mean?”. It just means that you’re creating unified shopping experiences for your customers over all the channels that they spend a substantial amount of time using. You aren’t trying to be everywhere - you’re just trying to be wherever your customers are, and tie their experiences over all these channels together to offer them a smooth, connected experience, not one that’s disjointed and requires them to start from scratch every time they move to a new channel.
Omnichannel retail involves going beyond your Shopify store to social media, online marketplaces, and wherever your customers like to spend their time or shop (yep, that also includes brick-and-mortar stores and pop-ups). It even involves interacting with your customers on social media.
The whole idea is that you show up wherever your customers are, and offer them value there, while also learning more about them and using the insights that you have gleaned about them to create better, connected experiences for them on other channels and platforms. You aren’t always pushing for the sale, instead, you’re guiding them through the sales funnel across multiple channels that they tend to use, instead of having them reach a certain stage in the funnel and then need to restart their interaction with your brand as if they’re back to the first stage every time they switch channels or hop to another platform.
You basically have all your channels integrated in such a way that you can offer your customers a seamless shopping experience. This is made possible by the use of centralized data management, which enables customers to start looking for a product on one channel, learn more about the product on a different platform, and complete the purchase on yet another channel. They essentially get to create shopping routes that suit them.
Why bother with omnichannel retail?
Well, to start off with, most customers are already trying to shop in an omnichannel fashion. An HBR study of 46000 shoppers showed that around 75% of shoppers use multiple channels to compare prices, hunt for discounts, or use in-store tablets to shop online.
A study conducted by IDC Retail Insights showed that retailers who opted for omnichannel marketing strategies ended up experiencing a 15–35% increase in average order value, a 5 – 10% increase in the profitability of loyal customers’, and 30% higher customer lifetime value for customers who engaged in omnichannel shopping than customers who shopped using just a single channel.
Studies have also shown that a strong omnichannel approach can lead to a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue and an 89% customer retention rate in comparison with the 33% customer retention rate for companies that do not have an effective omnichannel customer engagement strategy.
Going omnichannel pretty much protects online stores and helps them work in a more flexible manner. If a company runs its business completely over a single channel, it’s leaving itself vulnerable. If a new channel comes up and grabs its customers’ attention from the sole channel that the brand was focusing on, the brand will have to scramble to move to the other channel and spend time trying to figure out what works best on that channel. But if the brand already worked on an omnichannel shopping model, it could use a headless commerce architecture, which would allow the brand to drive commerce wherever its customers hang out.
This strategy is particularly effective for customer retention. It helps deepen relationships with existing customers and make repeat purchases at a faster pace, thus boosting customer loyalty, and increasing your customer lifetime value substantially.
Multichannel retail vs omnichannel retail
Multichannel retail and omnichannel retail both involve running commerce over several channels that your customers tend to use often. But there’s a major difference between both these models - multichannel retail involves managing all the channels separately instead of tying them together like omnichannel retail does.
This means that with multichannel retail, your customers don’t get a connected experience that spans across all the platforms that they use. Every time a customer hops across a platform, they’d have to start from scratch as if they hadn’t flowed through the buying process at all in the first place. And let’s be honest… that can get very frustrating for your customers.
Think of it this way - multichannel retail is adopted from a selfish point of view - the whole idea is for the retailer to have more channels to sell their products, which makes it possible for them to sell more products than they could over a single channel (but end up annoying customers who actually want an omnichannel experience). Omnichannel retail benefits both, the customer and the retailer. It lets the retailers sell over more channels, but it also allows customers to continue their buying journey across these channels instead of forcing them to go back to the start.
Multi-channel commerce is geared more towards getting a one-time purchase, while omnichannel commerce is more about getting long-term customers with a higher customer lifetime value.
It isn’t limited to just selling everywhere
Taking your Shopify store omnichannel isn’t just about driving sales only several channels and tying the experiences together. It’s also about taking your marketing and customer support omnichannel.
If your customers have questions about a product or are facing an issue with it while they’re on any channel, they should be able to get answers right there, without having to move to another platform. And the next time they have another question or face another issue while they’re on another channel, you should have know about their previous questions and issues which they talked about on the first channel, thus giving you context to answer their questions and solve their issues in a better, more holistic manner.
That’s why Engati focuses on letting your live chat agents and your chatbot interact with your customers on your Shopify store and 10+ other channels like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger and even ties all these conversations together into a OneView Inbox, so that your bot and agents always have context about past interactions that your customers have had with your across all your channels. This allows you to adopt omnichannel retail in the truest sense, creating the best customer experience possible.