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How an omnichannel strategy can boost your e-commerce

Written by: Monica McCoy

Successful online shops understand that it's not enough to focus your efforts on one channel alone to attract sales. Instead, they opt for an omnichannel strategy. Here we'll talk about how an omnichannel strategy can boost your e-commerce.

What is an omnichannel?

To get started, I want to explain what an omnichannel is for those of you who haven't heard of this concept yet. Omnichannel refers to offering your clients an improved user experience by providing them with the possibility to buy your products wherever, whenever and however they want to. It's all about making the purchasing process as easy as possible for your clients by linking up all your sales channels. Your channels could include your online shop, your telephone sales team and a physical shop, for example.

And it goes ever further. Omnichannel marketing focuses on targeting multichannel sales that provides a more integrated and complete purchasing experience for your clients.

Using omnichannels implies the following:

  • Your clients can access the same information across all your channels.
  • Your brand maintains the same consistent personality across all your channels.
  • Your databases and networks are synced and communication is centralised and easily accessible.

How an omnichannel strategy can boost your e-commerce

An omnichannel strategy is based on boosting the satisfaction of your clients thanks to improving their buying experience. This is especially valuable for your e-commerce when the price isn't the only variable users consider when deciding to purchase your products from your online shop and not another.

With the omnichannel strategy, any client that starts the purchasing process from one of your channels, such as via your website accessed from their laptop, they can continue the process by speaking to your customer service and even finalise the purchase directly in your physical shop. The whole process is seemless for your clients because your information is centralised. This makes it possibly for the client to start the purchasing process in one channel and finish it in another.

Taking it one step further, the interactions your clients have with your shop aren't only during the purchasing process, like in the case of crosschannel strategies. Rather, with omnichannel strategies, the interactions with your clients are a complete experience throughout all the channels and throughout the relationship you have with each client.

An omnichannel is different from a singlechannel, where you only sell through your online shop, for example, or multichannel, where you might sell online and through a physical shop, both being completely independent. An omnichannel the user is unable to perceive the difference between the sales channels, rather they are immersed in one complete experience that blurs that lines between the channels. This is because the information and service you offer flows naturally throughout all your channels.

Why didn't Blockbuster become something like Netflix?

It would have made perfect sense, right? When one channel isn't sufficient for the needs of the consumers, the multichannel is born. This is where different channels work independently, unlike the omnichannel.

With multichannel strategies, new channels work autonomously and offer different solutions without offering the solution throughout the different channels. What happens with a multichannel strategy is that clients become frustrated, because they expect the same brand to manage the same information across all their channels. However many businesses fail to do this successfully. This results in a negative impression of the brand.

Blockbuster is the perfect example of a leader in the industry that failed to understand what their consumers needed. History tends to repeat itself. Companies discover the "perfect" business model and then fail to consider incorporating new alternatives to adapt to their consumers' changing needs. Nor did they anticipate their audience's changing needs. This is what happens when you believe your product is unbeatable.

The arrival of a new channel, such as Netflix, with a completely reinvented distribution format of streaming presented a new opportunity for them to introduce this format to their systems of distribution. No one will ever forget when Blockbuster passed up the chance to buy Netflix for 50 million dollars. Netflix is now valued high up in the billions.

Here are a few examples of effective coexistence and targeting using an omnichannel strategy:

  • Magazines that give you a free digital version with your subscription.
  • Traditional radio didn't disappear, it was reborn with video streaming of its programmes and gained an online audience that way.
  • TV is social and re-feeds its content via social media, with live comments of the programmes.

Benefits of applying an omnichannel strategy

1 Customer loyalty

A good user experience is the main characteristics of an omnichannel strategy. The goal is to create client satisfaction thanks to understanding their needs, preferences and expectations. That way you are able to create products, services and offers especially tailored for them.

2 Brand reputation

Good brand reputation improves the client's perception of your brand and the positioning of your brand in the mind of the consumer. This generates a positive impact in your sales and improves your conversions.

3 Differentiates you from the competition

When discussing how an omnichannel strategy can boost your e-commerce, you have to think about your competitors as well. An omnichannel strategy creates a unique ecosystem for your business. It's a business model that is hard for your competitors to copy on a structural level.

4 Increased performance

Your efforts towards optimising your organisation, along with the improved user experience you offer, positively impact your business performance and your ability to optimise of your resources.

5 Increased information and communication

Omnichannels provide more reliable and accurate information about your stock and optimise your ability to manage it. It also improved your internal communication processes within the business and minimises inaccurate forecasts.

In summary

An omnichannel strategy doesn't mean you've got to stretch your business across all channels. Instead it means that you create a plan that focuses on the points of contact that consumers have with your brand. It's about making sure those points are active and coordinated with the same defined objectives and information.

The different channels you decide to sync should be incorporated progressively, in phases, to ensure successful implementation. Consumers assume that a brand will respond to their needs in the same manner in any channel and that's what you should strive to achieve with an omnichannel strategy.

In any case, it seems more complicated than it really is. It can be especially simple for a small business to put into action and to start off on the right foot. I hope you enjoyed learning how an omnichannel strategy can boost your e-commerce. When your consumers have a positive and consistent user experience it reflects on the success of your business, so maybe this is your chance to give it a try.

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