In the last few years, the eCommerce sector has seen a shift in what drives buyer behaviours. Where previously consumers looked for quality packaging and fast delivery, they are now prioritising convenience, experience and quality when making online purchase decisions.
The ever-changing perspectives on how consumers shop and interact with your brand are the reason there is a major push towards omnichannel strategies for businesses. For brands seeking growth via an omnichannel strategy, it is important that they consider everything they do from the perspective of the customer because the lifetime value of your customer relies on giving them what they want, how and when they want it.
Developing an omnichannel strategy
A company can achieve dramatic growth and business success with omnichannel retail, but it must first start with a culture of innovation that focuses on contemporary shopping habits. Determining how and where customers shop and then making it a seamless shopping experience for those customers across all channels.
For retailers and eCommerce businesses to accomplish omnichannel success, they need to first identify how customers are already interacting with their brand and why. Is it through a certain social media channel? What online communities are they part of? Who are the influencers they follow? Are they researching products via mobile, tablet or desktop? Where are they making their purchases?
The ability to answer these questions means that businesses can then send their customers more targeted and personalised offers and messages that are both relevant and consistent.
While the omnichannel strategy varies slightly between brick-and-mortar looking to expand digitally and brands that began as digital stores looking to expand to brick-and-mortar, it’s important to make customers’ shopping experiences seamless in both situations.
Ultimately, the omnichannel strategy relies on this seamless transition between online and offline, to generate more value to and from customers giving them a consistent brand experience wherever they are.
Understanding the different channels
When deciding where to execute your omnichannel strategy, always start by keeping your customers and target audience in mind. Begin with understanding what’s already working for you and start where your ideal customers are.
To ensure your brand is ready for omnichannel domination, it is necessary to have a holistic approach and gain a full understanding of which channel represents the most financial benefit to the business. Different channels can offer different opportunities, for example, some are great for strong sales, while others are good for introducing a product to the market and some for ridding yourself of obsolete inventory stock.
Research the benefits of each channel adopting new ones incrementally. Build a good dashboard that provides you with the real-time ability to see which channels are performing better so that you can reallocate resources accordingly.
Steps to implementing your omnichannel strategy
The first and most critical step is to look at your internal structure first. Ensure that you have your omnichannel systems in place prior to launching new channels. Choose a software system that integrates inventory stock with your online store as well as your physical location. Cloud-based software is a good option for businesses looking to be integrated and running their business in real-time.
Once you have integrated your internals systems, inventory stock is synced, and you have visibility the supply chain you are ready to tackle the following:
Define the goals for your new channel, what is it you want the channel to achieve? Is it to increase sales, drive brand awareness, encourage email sign-up? Determining your goals early is crucial to measuring the success of the new channels and calculating ROI.
A new channel needs its own unique marketing strategy so you must define your ideal customer and target demographic. Are they the right fit for the new channel?
How do you plan to attract, acquire, and retain customers? Start gathering data on consumer buying behaviours and keep track of metrics so you can make necessary adjustments in any area that is not performing.
Have a robust returns policy. Are you able to offer free returns? It is important to weigh up the cost and benefits of free delivery because it influences over 90 percent of online purchases and the likelihood of customers making repeat purchases.
Mastering your omnichannel strategy
For companies to succeed in an omnichannel world they need to master one channel at a time and conquer it before expanding into others. Select the channels you know well and that you feel the most comfortable with, adding new channels one at a time and mastering each before moving on to a new one.
Don’t enter every channel with the same strategy you had for the last, use it as a guide and match the message across all the channels, delivering a unique and consistent brand to your customers.
Start by creating an accurate measurement framework that allows you to accurately track all the channels. Tracking channel performance enables you to then focus on the better performing ones and to personalise customer experience accordingly.
It’s important to remember that individual touchpoints will define a customer’s view of your brand. Outlining the ideal customer experience and detailing how you imagine each customer interacting with all the touchpoints before making a purchase will help drive customer satisfaction and build brand loyalty.
Keep your customers first and foremost. Learn their preferences and prioritise your omnichannel strategy around them. After all, it’s these consumers who are driving changes in the eCommerce sector. If they are not viewing them as an essential part of your planning and strategy, you will lose them to a brand that does.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.