What is omnichannel retail strategy?

Going omnichannel is a must if you want to stay competitive.  Omnichannel retailing unlocks massive potential for higher profits and loyalty.

When online first became a serious option for retailers, having an omnichannel strategy was something to strive for – today it is the standard.

For those unfamiliar with the term, what exactly does omnichannel retail mean?

Let’s go with with this definition;

Omnichannel retail unifies all available shopping channels (in-store, online, mobile, social media, etc.) in a way that provides customers with smooth, integrated experiences.


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study of 46,000 shoppers found that 73% have used multiple channels throughout their shopping journeys and those shoppers are more loyal and spend higher amounts in-store and online.

80% of shoppers use digital means when shopping.  – Cisco

46% of customers prefer to research online, but buy in the store. – Forbes Insights

45% of smartphone owners are making purchases using a mobile device every month. – Deloitte

So now we know what it is, how do you go about achieving it? 

 The simple answer is to sell on more channels.  Easy enough to say, much harder to do, and do well.

If you’re reading this, chances are you already have an online website, and possibly a retail shop or outlet.

But before you go developing more channels, firstly,  make sure your web store is optimized for mobile – nothing annoys (or loses) a customer faster than not being able to shop easily on their phone.

If your website is not responsive and important aspects are lost or squeezed onto the page in a less than attractive way, you can assume you are one click away from losing that customer – possibly for good.

Have you used one or two different mobiles to order from your own website?  This is what your customers experience is really like.  Ensure you try a larger phone like a Samsung Galaxy versus a small iPhone to really experience the different screen sizes.

Here’s a few compelling reasons why you should prioritise your mobile experience:

  • The closer we get to Christmas and the busy season, the more prepared you need to be for mobile -first shoppers.  Nearly 60% of mobile-first shoppers start their holiday shopping between October and mid-November, compared to just 36% of in-store-first shoppers that start early, according to Facebook IQ study emailed to Retail Dive.
  • Retailers should also be conscious that consumers shop more on mobile on weekends and holidays so plan your promotions and special offers to hit their inboxes ahead of time!
  • Conversions visible to Facebook during the holiday season were greatest last year on Cyber Monday, then Black Friday and various weekend days (Facebook IQ study)
  • Mobile can also be a powerful tool to seal the deal with shoppers. The top five preferences of mobile-first shoppers include: click and collect, free gifts with purchase, price match, coupons and customer service.

My site is responsive and is mobile friendly – now what?

Once you have your desktop and mobile website experiences nailed, do some research about what social media channels you could add to the mix.

These days you can use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to market and promote your products as well as to sell.

Where are your customers spending time when on social media?  Are they on Facebook or Snapchat?  Twitter or Insta?  Once you have the insights you need, you can add a sales app onto your chosen social channel such as liketoknow.it or havetohave.it.

Do some research to figure out which apps will work best for your business and budget.

What other customer touch points can you utilise to add to their experience? 

Map out the customer’s journey from the moment they land on your website to the moment they receive their parcel and look for opportunities to add other engagement opportunities…(more on this to later).

Check out the video below to a fantastic example of omnichannel retail in action and use it as inspiration for developing the best omnichannel strategy for your business.

Remember, it’s not enough simply to have a presence on a whole lot of different channels – each of your channels must work together, functioning as parts of a wider ecosystem.  That is the key to a great omnichannel strategy.

This means you need to have a comprehensive solution for the problems this presents. Inventory control, channel management, and returns are all areas that are particularly important in creating a seamless omnichannel experience and will need deeper thought and planning.  You may need to look for integrations that enable you to better manage these areas.

The challenge with creating more sales channels, is that you also create more work in managing your orders, inventory, returns and fulfillment as the processes become more complex.

Over the next few weeks we will be shining the spotlight on integration partners who can easily integrate with your eCommerce platform, so you can have a seamless platform that delivers on your business requirements.

If venturing into other channels is not achievable right now,  focus on doing what you are currently doing to the very best of your ability.

Optimise your website, your customer’s shopping and delivery experience (desktop and mobile) and think about ways to upsell while they are on your site as well as developing a calendar of critical promotional periods and ensuring your offers hit inboxes timed for maximum uptake.

If you don’t have sales history to look back on, test different offers and limit the period to get them to act quickly.  Who in your industry do you admire?  Sign up for their email programmes and learn from the experts.

Tip for the busy season! 

Branded tracking pages are a great way to up-sell to your customers while they are checking in on an order’s status!  Here is some for more information on how branded tracking pages work as well as automated updates via SMS and email so you don’t get so many calls and emails over the busy season.

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