You’re in the right place if you’ve been asking yourself, “What is omnichannel eCommerce and how exactly am I supposed to do it?” Omnichannel eCommerce provides an opportunity to create a seamless customer experience across a variety of different sales channels. But while the idea offers a fantastic way to build relationships and increase revenue, it’s not the easiest to execute when you’re not even sure where to begin.
Here’s an introduction to omnichannel eCommerce and five digital marketing strategies for omnichannel eCommerce success.
Even though omnichannel eCommerce has been a buzzy topic the past few years, a whopping 78 percent of retailers say they don’t offer a consistent experience across their channels, while some are still unclear on what the term actually means.
The lines between physical and digital experiences are now blurred, with customers navigating these worlds each and every day. A BigCommerce survey of 3,000 digital consumers found that, before buying from a physical retail store, 39 percent of respondents had visited a brand’s website, 36 percent had read customer reviews, 33 percent attempted to price match online and 32 percent found the brand on Amazon. This type of consumer channel-bouncing is the basis for omnichannel eCommerce.
Just as today’s consumers seek content and experiences through a variety of different mediums, a solid omnichannel eCommerce strategy ties the customer journey together in a cohesive way. It’s not necessarily about being everywhere you could possibly be all at once. Rather, it’s about being there to delight your customers where they are when they need you most.
What Does Omnichannel Look Like?
To better understand what a customer’s omnichannel experience might look like, imagine the fictional fine jewelry company Elegant Gemstones, which has an eCommerce website and multiple physical locations.
Here is a sample omnichannel experience a consumer may journey through before making a purchase:
Step 1: A consumer visits a product page on elegantgemstones.com to view a gemstone necklace. The consumer does not spend much time on the page and leaves it without purchasing or adding the item to their cart.
Step 2: A day later, the consumer is delivered an ad on their Instagram feed from @elegantgemstones that features a lifestyle photo of the necklace being worn, and a caption that details how this item complements the pictured outfit.
Step 3: One day after receiving the Instagram ad, the consumer is delivered a Facebook video ad from Elegant Gemstones with a customer review about the necklace.
Step 4: Another day later, the consumer receives an invitation through Instagram to visit one of Elegant Gemstones’ retail locations for a private consultation. The consumer books a consultation using their email address and telephone number.
Step 5: The day of the consultation, the consumer receives a personalized reminder email about the appointment from the specialist they’ll be meeting at their local Elegant Gemstones location. The email includes links to products available at that location, including the necklace they had viewed earlier.
Step 6: During the appointment, the consumer inquires about and views in person the necklace they had first seen online and ultimately decides to purchase it.
Strategies for Omnichannel eCommerce Success
The omnichannel experience is all about strategically applying opportunities for interaction throughout the customer journey. It allows you to foster relationships with and build loyalty among your current and future customers. Here are some strategies for creating a successful omnichannel experience of your own.
1. Use Multiple Channels to Recover Abandoned Carts
Nearly three-quarters of online shopping carts are abandoned, and if you’re not making efforts to recover these abandonments in a unified, multichannel way, you’re missing out on revenue from extremely low funnel consumers. While cart recovery emails are standard, consider layering in one or several other channels to enhance your visibility.
- Remarket with branded ads through Google’s display network.
- Run dynamic product ads through Facebook.
- Advertise a lifestyle image through Instagram that shows how the product is used.
- Use dynamic product feeds on your homepage.
2. Provide a Customized Site Experience
Pay attention to the different subgroups that exist within your customer base. Even if you have a key target demographic, there are always additional opportunities to further customize each of their experiences whenever they visit your website.
- If you’re an international business, creating unique online storefronts that are written in your visitors’ languages and are priced using their currency makes for a localized experience.
- Create different versions of your homepage that speak to the different types of visitors who arrive on your site. A first-time visitor might appreciate the opportunity to learn more about your brand, so you may choose to lead with your origin story, while a returning customer might respond better to a homepage image that features all of your newest arrivals.
- Using dynamic product feeds on your homepage can help serve as a retargeting tactic by giving returning visitors the opportunity to be reminded of the products they’ve been interested in.
3. Keep Your Voice Consistent Across Channels
Creating a recognizable brand identity, and an associated voice, that is unique and distinct can set you apart from your competitors as you fight for your customers’ attention across multiple channels.
Keep your customers in mind when:
- Writing your site copy
- Creating social captions
- Crafting loyalty emails
- Describing product features
- Communicating offers
Just as you apply your brand consistently to your packaging and imagery, the more consistent you are with your brand voice, the easier it will be for your customers to recognize you when you’re in front of them.
4. Create Shoppable Feeds Using UGC
Research has shown that community engagement through social media can enhance the relationships consumers make with the brand community, which in turn helps to increase trust between the brand and its customers. By applying shoppable UGC, or user generated content, to your omnichannel eCommerce strategy, you can help provide context for your brand as well as amplify your customer relationships.
- Incentivize social sharing amongst your current customers to collect quality UGC that you can share in shoppable social posts later on.
- Work with social media influencers to produce branded content that tells your story in a unique and compelling way.
Aside from advertising opportunities, social media channels allow for shoppable content right within their organic feeds. The Instagram partnerships team recently launched its own account called @shop to generate more interest in shoppable posts on the platform. It’s a feature worth paying attention to.
5. Employ Loyalty Efforts
A main goal for building an omnichannel eCommerce strategy is to increase customer loyalty. Sephora’s Beauty Insider program is an example of an omnichannel loyalty program that is executed exceptionally well.
- The Beauty Insider program has two tiers based on annual spending habits: Very Important Beauty Insider status and Rouge status.
- Beauty Insiders build up points whether they make their purchase(s) in store or online.
- Beauty Insiders can reference their account information (including points and purchases) on a customized Beauty Insider page online.
- Beauty Insiders can redeem their rewards online or in store, with reward options consisting of products, services and VIP experiences.
A loyalty program that works across channels, and allows users to engage with your brand in a seamless way, can help you foster a more trusting relationship between you and your customers.
Things to Keep in Mind
Know Your Customers
While many digital marketing strategies can be easily applied across industries, it’s still important to evaluate your own customer base and make your decisions after evaluating the activities and desires of your unique audience.
- How old are they and how do they shop?
- What are their spending habits?
- What channels are they using?
- What do they value most in a shopping experience?
Omnichannel isn’t actually about being in all places at all times, but a deep understanding of where your customers are can give them the perception that you’re everywhere they are. Identify which channels will give you the best return on investment–and which you needn’t use at all.
Don’t Just Blast Everyone, Everywhere
No matter who your customers are, you won’t achieve your omnichannel goals if you hit them with ad after ad, through channel after channel, ad nauseam. Blasting your customers everywhere with product ads is one of the top mistakes that could cost your relationships with your customers. Instead, think strategically about how your brand fits into your customers’ lives and structure your tactics around adding value and telling compelling stories.
Customize, Test–and Adapt
Retail and eCommerce are changing quickly and drastically over time. It’s important to continue to learn about how customers are responding to new developments in omnichannel eCommerce in order to adapt your own omnichannel eCommerce strategy and consistently provide experiences that are fresh and effective. Pay attention to the results of your efforts–survey your customers, review your data, check up on your competitors–and you’ll be well on your way to achieving omnichannel eCommerce success.