With constantly evolving technology and digital marketing capabilities comes the expectation of a seamless customer experience in any eCommerce environment. Accordingly, more and more online businesses are adopting an omnichannel approach to make serving customers as streamlined as possible.
Tracking sales and inventory is key to understanding what your business needs for successful omnichannel eCommerce.
So what exactly does omnichannel eCommerce entail, and how can it benefit businesses? Here’s a rundown.
Omnichannel: what is it and how does it compare to multi-channel?
Omnichannel commerce is an approach to sales whereby the focus is on providing a smooth and integrated customer experience. It works on the assumption that most customers will use multiple channels to engage with a brand before making a purchasing decision and caters to that behavior by offering a unified customer experience.
While multi-channel retailing utilizes different marketing and sales platforms, omnichannel is a cross-channel strategy that ties all channels together, so they work in harmony. You might have a well-designed website, sophisticated online store, and thriving social media presence, but if they don’t work together, your strategy isn’t omnichannel.
A good example of an omnichannel marketing strategy is the Starbucks reward app. The customer is given a free rewards card that can be used any time they make a purchase. But unlike other rewards cards, the customer can also check and reload their card via mobile, website, the app, or in-store. What’s more, any change to the card gets updated across all channels, in real time.
How to build an omnichannel strategy for eCommerce growth
Most businesses today invest in marketing across multiple channels, but they haven’t yet mastered the art of bringing them all together to form an end-to-end customer experience. To build an omnichannel strategy that leads to more sales, you should focus on the following:
Customers’ behaviors – It’s crucial to understand what your customers are looking for when they’re shopping, and how they’re shopping. This includes factors like how they’re landing on your site, what devices they’re using, what products they’re looking for, and your marketing sales funnel. With this information, you can form a clear picture of what your typical customer and their user journey looks like.
User experience – Once you understand your customers and their needs, it’s time to focus on your business’ current user experience and how it can be improved. Test the entire sales cycle across multiple devices and note any gaps. For example, if a buyer adds an item to their virtual cart on their mobile, will it still be in their cart when that buyer switches to their desktop? Is it easy for people to jump from your Facebook page to your online store? Streamlining the sales cycle is key to a seamless customer experience, reducing cart abandonment, and ultimately, increasing sales.
Software integration – Creating a streamlined customer experience also relies on integrating technology. Whether you’re a B2B or B2C business, it’s crucial to ensure that your eCommerce platform, inventory management system, and business applications work together. TradeGecko’s B2B eCommerce platform can be integrated with multiple sales channels, and can even pull product information from public B2C stores. The customer interface is also customizable, and the order history feature enables buyers to reorder easily, view past orders, and restock their cart with a single click. Investing in sophisticated software with user-intuitive integration capabilities is pivotal to creating an omnichannel sales environment.
Are there any disadvantages to an omnichannel approach?
One of the biggest challenges businesses face with omnichannel eCommerce is that it isn’t easy. Creating a truly omnichannel experience requires time and money, which are things many small business owners don’t have much of. Using the right tools with inbuilt integration capabilities will reduce a lot of the manual effort involved and make growing your business easier.
What’s the difference between omnichannel and O2O?
Online-to-offline (O2O) refers to the link between product or brand discovery online and actual sales offline, and it’s currently a huge trend in China’s eCommerce market. As an example, making a restaurant booking online and then paying for a meal in the restaurant is an O2O transaction, and so is online ordering and in-store pick up (click-and-collect) for retailers.
While O2O capabilities make up a piece of the puzzle, having online-to-offline functionality doesn’t equate to omnichannel commerce. For a business to be truly omnichannel, every single sales channel and device needs to be linked so that the customer experience is completely seamless.
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