Bridging the gap between online and offline omnichannel sales channels

As innovative companies leverage breakthroughs in cloud, mobile, social, AI and chatbot technologies to deliver personalized omnichannel solutions, customers have come to expect an a seamless customer experience at every touchpoint.

Omnichannel Commerce: are you ready for it?

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According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, 70% of consumers agree that technology makes it easier to switch from brand to brand, and find the perfect experience that matches their expectations. Likewise, a study by Harvard Business Review found that customers that engage with a brand across multiple channels spend more on every shopping occasion.

In other words, from a customer satisfaction and business viewpoint, providing a seamless shift from offline to online sales channels is imperative.

If you’re struggling to connect the dots between your online and offline channels, here are some of the key tactics top businesses use to provide an integrated experience.

  1. 020 (online-to-offline) commerce

If you’ve ever bought a product online and picked it up in-store or returned an item bought online to a physical store, you’ve experienced O2O selling in action. Online-to-offline is a simple but effective business strategy designed to bring online customers to brick-and-mortar locations, while creating a seamless digital experience before, during, and after purchase.

O2O commerce provides a more convenient experience for customers, which helps removes barriers to purchase such as delivery fees or a restrictive returns policy. With a centralized inventory management system, you can begin offering O2O options to customers knowing that stock levels, returns etc. are updated in real-time, no matter where the activity is taking place.

  1. Cross-channel marketing

Cross-channel marketing is the practice of using multiple channels to reach customers, and it can help improve your marketing results everywhere you have a brand presence – online and offline. Every consumer has their own preferences and takes a unique path to purchase that involves a variety of devices and channels.

Catering to each customer’s journey through cross-channel marketing is no mean feat: it involves connecting with the individual through platforms like social advertising, display ads (with re-targeting), in-store marketing initiatives, email campaigns, and more. The key to getting it right is using a dedicated cross-channel marketing platform like Salesforce or Adobe Marketing Cloud to manage campaigns singularly rather than taking a fragmented approach that considers each channel as a separate entity.Omnichannel Sales Channels

  1. Social selling

Put simply, social selling is the art of using social networks to find, connect with, and nurture potential customers. Depending on your business, this could involve answering customer queries, sharing new products, or leveraging influencer marketing to build brand awareness.

A 2017 survey by Hubspot found that 23% are most likely to find out about new brands, products or services via social media. This means your customers are already engaging on social media for the purposes of brand discovery – and it’s up to you to dictate your message to them. Likewise, your customers conduct research and purchase products through multiple channels, so it makes sense for your sales strategy to encompass social media to provide a truly connected experience.

  1. Localization

To provide a truly streamlined experience, you have to think about your customers on a local level – especially if you operate across multiple markets or plan to get into international opportunities. This means providing an experience that meets the unique needs of customers in every location you sell, down to preferred shopping methods and products, fast shipping to anywhere, and trading in different currencies.

TradeGecko, for example, offer multi-currency support and provides up-to-date exchange rates, no matter where in the world your customers may be. It also functions as multiple warehouse management software, so you can easily transfer stock between locations to ensure timely delivery on a global scale. If you view omnichannel commerce through the perspective of your consumers and utilize the right tools, you can focus on delivering a great experience in the channels that your buyers prefer the most, all over the world.

How Macy’s does omnichannel commerce right

Macy’s was one of the pioneers in omnichannel selling, when, in 2010, it announced its mission to become “America’s Omnichannel Store”.

After spending several years analyzing customer data, Macy’s noticed that before visiting a store, customers often checked products on the Macy’s website to save time choosing at the physical store.

As a result, they implemented in-store available product visibility on the website to provide a better experience for online customers. Online customers could then easily see if their closest store had the item in stock. They can also select their preferred delivery optionssuch as click-and-collect at a nominated store (O2O), or home delivery.

The company also leveraged its expansive store network to serve as online order distribution centers. Introducing “ship from store” enabled Macy’s to optimize both its inventory management and its customer experience.Macy's Digital Transformation profit margin growth

This successful omnichannel transformation led to a 257% increase in profit margin in 2014. What’s more, Macy’s stock price increased over 40% in 2013.

As with all omnichannel strategies, analyzing customer and sales data was key to Macy’s successful digital transformation. If you’re on the road to omnichannel commerce, remember that TradeGecko Intelligence reports provide powerful retail and wholesale data to help you understand and cater to your customers’ preferences.

Streamlined workflows is essential to putting omnichannel commerce into practice.

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