What are we talking about when it comes to Omnichannel? Why is it such a great opportunity for your business? What challenges does it involve?
Now customers no longer distinguish between physical stores and e–commerce. When they want a product, they search for it on different channels, they read e–mails and look for apps. They use different ways to get it, all those that you should optimize if you want to catch their attention and convert it into purchases. In fact, you need to have a 360 ° look at the customer journey.
Implementing an Omnichannel strategy means being present where your customers are, whatever channel they use, in an organized and integrated way.
The difference between Omnichannel and Multichannel strategy
“In an organized way”, we said: this is precisely the difference between an Omnichannel strategy and a more common Multichannel strategy. Many companies manage multiple sales channels at the same time, and accompany the customer from pre-sales to post-sales phase. The Omnichannel strategy aligns these two approaches, giving uniformity to your business model.
It is true that many e–commerce no longer limit themselves to just their website, but opening and managing many channels at the same time does not automatically mean implementing an Omnichannel strategy.
An example? Think about the e–mails you send to your customers after purchase. When you don’t just inform them about the status of the shipment but you offer coupons or discounts, you are already pursuing a first form of Omnichannel strategy.
So, on one side the Multichannel approach, which provides for a widespread presence, both online and offline, but not fully organized and coherent on all channels.
On the other side, the Omnichannel strategy, thanks to which you can take the potential customer by the hand when he is still a simple visitor to your site or physical store and accompany him from the sale to the after-sales phase, with a widespread and planned presence. Especially now that this presence is even more necessary, given that the buyer can get in touch with your brand in many different ways and moments.
This is why you need to guide the buyer online but also offline, offering a consistent shopping experience as regards prices, payment methods and offers.
What is the current role of physical stores?
Physical stores, today, are not separated rooms that organize themselves and that only sell to customers in their reference city.
Increasingly, entrepreneurs with a well-established physical store chain open e–commerce sites (or the other way round) to reach customers all over the world. This is how traditional stores often turn into shop windows for customers who then buy online.
So here is the big challenge for present and future physical stores: maintain appeal and attract customers even now that many people buy easily from their PC, tablet or smartphones.
Especially since the lockdown has imposed shopping habits that do not encourage to wander calmly between shelves and corridors.
For this reason, a holistic approach such as an Omnichannel strategy would allow your company, if it has an important presence in the area, to offer services such as pickup or return in store.
One more way to meet customers’ needs.
Now, however, let’s focus on 3 specific advantages that such a synergistic approach can offer to your business.
The 3 advantages of an Omnichannel strategy
We identified 3 important opportunities that an Omnichannel strategy can offer you:
- Long-lasting loyalty: by accompanying the customer in every phase of the purchase process on every available channel, you will be able to remain stick in his mind and to establish a lasting relationship with him. With a coordinated marketing strategy that also involves the sales and customer service departments, you can say to your customer: “Hey, remember me? If you bought and liked this product, you could also try our new arrivals!”
- Development of a customer-centric approach: we know how much a self-referential sales strategy, which focuses only on its offer and presents itself aggressively to the customer, does not give the desired results. On the contrary, you need to be focused on the customer, his needs and desires. And an Omnichannel strategy allows you to focus on his direct experience with your company, responding to his expectations.
- Guided and data-supported decisions: Think about how much data you can currently get from the interactions customers and potential customers develop with your brand. There are those who request information, those who follow your social pages, those who tried to make a purchase on your e–commerce but abandoned the cart just a moment before paying. All these people leave data and traces of their path and can become the centerpiece of your Omnichannel approach. It is (also) to them that you must direct your sponsored posts, your newsletters, the possibility of pickup in the store, and so on.
Now that we have seen how much you can revolutionize your sales strategy with an Omnichannel approach, let’s analyze some concrete examples, in order to show you what are the actions that can attract customers in target with your business.
3 excellent examples of the Omnichannel model
The 3 companies we want to talk to you about have already introduced the Omnichannel model into their sales process and are achieving great results. We are talking about two giants like IKEA and Adidas and a growing startup, Velasca, specialized in handmade and made in Italy shoes at competitive prices. In the case of Velasca, then, born with an online store and then spreading throughout the territory, the Omnichannel strategy has been part of the company vision since the beginning.
Here are the measures adopted by these 3 companies:
- IKEA. The Swedish brand does not only stand on the outskirts of large cities, with its warehouses stocked with any household items. For years, it has also been present online, but only since 2017 has it made a decisive step forward towards an Omnichannel approach. Just think of the use of augmented reality to plan the arrangement of the furniture in your living room, or the blog, which always offers valid ideas for decorating your home with a modern and functional style. Briefly, the entire online presence does not only aim at direct sales, but contributes to bringing entire families into physical stores.
- Velasca was born online and only later did it open physical stores. Even today, 50% of its customers come from e–commerce and 80% of those who enter the store have had a first online approach with the brand. In other words, these are webrooming consumers, who first carry out online searches, get informed and then buy offline. Given this strong virtual presence, the same salespeople are trained to accompany the potential customer to purchase, without ever forcing him. Velasca is well aware, in fact, that those who enter the shop already have all the elements to decide. This is an excellent example of synergy between different channels. In addition, the relationship with customers is so close that sometimes the members of the Velasca team personally sign the customer service e–mails or that events are organized in physical stores, to make them even more welcoming.
- Adidas needs no introduction, but it seemed appropriate to analyze its recent Omnichannel approach. Its goal is to be constantly present online without forgetting the shopping and entertainment experience in physical stores. In fact, according to Adidas, the physical store must increasingly become a place where you can find what you have spotted online, but without necessarily buying. For Adidas, Omnichannel also means buying online and picking up in the store, even if the availability of the product is not immediate. In this case, the sales staff still manage to find the object as soon as possible. Another integration from an Omnichannel perspective is represented by the possibility of buying online and choosing whether to make a return in store or by carrier.
In short, these 3 brands offer different sales channels and different solutions to their customers, pamper them with ad hoc strategies. And what about you? What do you need to implement a holistic approach like this?
The challenges of the Omnichannel model
Omnichannel strategy is not for everyone.
It takes requirements and skills that take into consideration the company as a whole. Here are the tips that we at ShippyPro have identified if you want to start selling with an Omnichannel approach:
- Big technological investments. Think about what it means to manage online and offline markets, newsletters, apps, and above all, keep everything under control without running out of stock and leaving customers without products. For an Omnichannel strategy you therefore need a smooth back-end and front-end management of your sales channels, without any hitch.
- New way to organize your company. Whether you have a small e–commerce or a fast growing company, you must organize it so that every department, from sales to customer service, is completely involved and focused on the new process, and knows how to respond to any customer request. For this you may need a software that optimizes the shipping process and helps you retain customer loyalty with personalized e–mails, just like ShippyPro does.
- Focus on Mobile commerce. Millions and millions of people use their smartphone to shop, and not only. In fact, more and more often, people check the availability of a product in the store, or scan a QR code to receive detailed information on the object they would like to buy. If you really want to invest in the Omnichannel model, you need to consider the importance that smartphones have throughout the purchase process and optimize, for example, the Mobile version of your site.
How to best manage logistics if you use an Omnichannel approach?
So far we have seen the great benefits of an Omnichannel strategy, the challenges it entails, and some examples from which you could take a cue. But what about logistics? How to make it work perfectly, without risking losing customers? Here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Never lose sight of the availability of your products. As we saw in the case of Adidas, you could sell or make it possible to pick up a product in the store, even if it is not immediately present in your inventory. But make sure you can find it in the shortest time possible.
- Offer safe and fast shipments for a top after-sales experience. Let’s say you have to manage a shipment from your warehouse to one of your physical stores, the one where the customer wants to collect his purchase. Make sure there is communication between the carrier and the store and that the package arrives in the shortest possible time, otherwise you risk offering the opportunity to write a negative review on a silver platter.
- Manage the return options from an Omnichannel perspective. Does your customer want to make a return but doesn’t know how to do it? Offer the possibility to do it in the shop even if you purchased online or to send the package back by carrier in a simple way. If “simple” and “return” are two words that don’t agree with you, discover Easy Return, the solution designed by ShippyPro.
Adapt your e–commerce to the Omnichannel model thanks to ShippyPro
If the prospect of actually engaging in the development of an Omnichannel model attracts you but also causes you a headache, don’t worry.
Step by step, you can offer your potential customers a structured path to never leave them alone, but you need help to do it.
Did your customer buy online but want to collect his parcel in the store? No problem, even in this case ShippyPro has what you need: I’m talking about ShippyPro Live Checkout, which can be integrated quickly and easily in your e–commerce, so as not to lose even a customer at the time of Checkout.
In conclusion, thanks to ShippyPro a holistic and Omnichannel approach is no longer an unattainable utopia, but is just a click away, here and now!