First of all, what is omnichannel retail? You may have heard this buzzword being flung around like it’s rice at a wedding, but what does it actually mean?
Omnichannel retail refers to a unified and cohesive retail experience across multiple channels. You might be asking, then what’s the difference between multichannel and omnichannel retail? Great question. Multichannel retail is just what it sounds like – retail across multiple channels. Omnichannel retail simply takes it a step further – a vital step further – to make all of those channels connected and unified to make a seamless shopping experience for your shoppers.
So now you might be asking, well, what kind of channels are you talking about? Another great question. Wow, you’re really on your game today. Most retailers use in-store, ecommerce, social media, email, and even online marketplaces such as Ebay and Amazon, just to name a few. The possibilities are quite expansive – basically, any way for you to engage with your customers counts as a channel.
To become omnichannel, you have to find a way to connect all of your channels so that your customers experience a smooth and seamless experience. This might sound intimidating or impossible, but it’s not as scary as it sounds.
You don’t have to be present on every single channel – in fact you should definitely not be on every single channel. You should be where your customers are. Carefully select a few channels to be present on. Identify where your shoppers like to spend their time online – is it Instagram? Amazon? Etsy? Wherever they like to hang out is where you should make yourself at home, and try to engage with them across the different channels. For example, if a shopper added an item to their cart but never purchased, you can make a retargeting ad to nudge them back to their carts to complete their checkout. You can launch these ads wherever your shoppers spend time – such as Instagram or Facebook, or even directly email them about the products they left behind. This is an example of omnichannel marketing.
Ok, so if you’re a small business you might not have the luxury of having a big marketing budget, so you can’t launch fancy retargeting ads to those who abandoned their carts. But have no fear – because you don’t need to have an expensive marketing strategy to be omnichannel. You simply need to engage with your customers across these different channels in a unified way. Let’s go over how we can achieve this.
Engaging with your followers on social media is a simple, but effective way to keep your customer service omnichannel. For example, staying online to answer any questions or comments coming in from your followers. According to Sprout Social, 40% of consumers expect a response within the first hour of reaching out to a brand via social media, and 79% expect a response within 24 hours. Extend your customer service to social media, and help your page visitors with anything they need. This can very easily lead to a sale – if they have a question about a product you posted about, you should behave as if this is an in-store customer coming up and asking about the product. It becomes another channel to make sales.
These days, social media has become an essential step in the buying process. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, 73% of consumers use multiple channels during their shopping channel. Most shoppers will do their research before committing to a purchase, research that includes perusing the brand’s social media to get a sense of the brand personality, prices, and reviews.
But even more, social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook actually let you sell directly on them, making the buying process even easier for your customers. They don’t even have to leave the page they’re on, they can directly purchase right from your page. The fewer steps, the more likely your customers will purchase.
Omnichannel means all of your retail channels are connected. An integrated POS system will connect your in-store retail to your online store to make a seamless shopping experience for your customers and a convenient all-access platform for you.
A POS system like Oliver POS keeps all of your data constantly connected, so online and in-store inventory is always in-sync. This is important, because 71% of in-store shoppers agree that it’s important to be able to view in-store inventory from online. With a connected inventory, your customers can shop online or, if they see their desired product is available online, they may come into the physical location to shop instead. It creates a seamless shopping experience for your customers – not to mention an integrated inventory saves you time and helps you keep track of your inventory.
An integrated POS system will also keep track of your customers across channels. This is essential for omnichannel retail, as it makes your customer service more personalized. With Oliver POS, all of your customers, whether in-store or online, will be accessible from both your online store your in-store POS. You will be able to access any customer’s complete purchase history, loyalty points, store credit, and any other notes you may have about them, making for a completely seamless, omnichannel shopping experience for your customers.
To learn more about how to make a personalized experience for your customers, click here.
Email marketing is another effective channel for retail. Apps like Mailchimp are free, and can even integrate with your POS system. Something as simple as emailing your customer after their purchase by offering them a discount next time they’re shopping with you is an effective way of retaining customers and making sales.
Abandoned cart emails are an extremely effective way to make sales. This seems advanced, but there’s actually a free WooCommerce extension that does it for you. Send emails to all those customers who put something in their cart and never checked out. Remind them what they’re missing out on. Likewise, send out emails to those who made recent purchases with more product recommendations – including in-store customers, not just online customers.
A weekly or monthly newsletter is an excellent idea to promote new or features products or sales. Prompt your customers to sign up for your newsletter in-store at the checkout, and on your online store, with the guarantee of exclusive deals and discounts.
It’s one thing to have a presence on multiple channels. The key is connecting all the channels together to make a unified experience for your customers. More and more shoppers expect omnichannel retail experiences, and those businesses that do offer omnichannel customer service experience 89% higher customer retention. So, it’s probably worth the effort to make your retail channels more unified.
To learn more about how Oliver POS can increase your omnichannel capabilities, click here.