Definition: Omnichannel retailing is a customer-centric approach where the company believes in unifying all the available channels to standardize their sales and marketing functions. It is an initiative of employing the same set of retail strategies along all the channels to provide a flawless shopping experience to the users.
A compact solution to all the customer-seller problems lies in the core of omnichannel retailing. It is an essential component for the worldwide expansion of any business.
Content: Omnichannel Retailing
Omnichannel Retailing Example
‘IKEA‘, one of the leading home interior accessories and furniture brand is a Swedish multinational company. It has beautifully inherited the omnichannel retailing strategies to mould its identity from a small brick and mortar store to its global presence.
The brand started by Ingvar Kamprad in the year 1943 is now recognized for its:
- 433 stores spread across 52 countries
- e-commerce store
- mobile application
- nearby store location feature and navigation facility
- web application providing virtual assistance to shoppers
- social network integration on Instagram feed
- the prompt customer service team
- global advertising campaigns
- interactive online catalogue
- design idea blog
- IKEA family club
- gift registry app
- offer page
IKEA has constantly made efforts to promote its retail business and accomplished its vision of making lives better for the customers.
Omnichannel Retailing Strategies
The company needs to proceed with one or more retail strategies to integrate and efficiently utilize the various channels. Below mentioned are some of the major techniques used:
Physical Stores: It is suitable for the customers who rigidly rely on the brick and mortar stores to make the purchase. For instance; Domino’s Pizza, Inc.
M-commerce Platform: When the maximum number of shoppers have smartphone access, mobile applications and SMS marketing is a great option for the retailers. For instance; Policybazaar.
Social Media Platform: The various social mediums such as LinkedIn, Watsapp, Instagram, Chatbot, Facebook have highly active user footfall. Therefore, it is a valuable viral marketing option for businesses. For instance; Paytm.
E-commerce Websites: The companies prefer selling products or services online using mobile apps, EDI, e-mail marketing, EFT, etc. For instance; Amazon.
Enterprise Resource Planning System: The ERP system interlinks all the online-offline shopping activities including customer relationship management, purchase, payment and return. For instance; Reliance Retail.
API-Led Connectivity: The application programming interfaces simplify the virtual marketing and retailing functions by allowing the different applications to communicate and share essential information such as store location, value-added services, new launch, recommendations, etc. For instance; Walmart.
Omnichannel Retail Trends
Some effective mantras for carrying out omnichannel retail activities in a synchronized and systematic manner are disclosed below:
All Devices Compatibility
Omnichannel retail function proves to be rewarding for both the customers as well as the brand only when is workable on all kind of devices with internet accessibility. Hence, it should be accessible by anyone using a smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer or any other device.
The whole omnichannel retailing strategy of the company should be so well aligned that the customers can proceed with their previous search even after changing the channel. This saves users’ time otherwise wasted in starting the search all over again when they change their shopping medium.
Featuring the brand’s product or service over a social media platform helps the consumers to gain information and promote it through the sharing and word of mouth.
The consumers expect far more from the brand. The companies today need to feature relevant products according to the consumers’ search inputs. Search engines and analytics have facilitated such personalized product advertising.
Proactive Customer Service
Foresightedness in omnichannel retailing initiates better understanding of the customer needs and identification of the problem before its occurrence. Thus, finding a suitable solution to such a universal issue is like hit nail on head.
While online shopping customers face the dilemma of the rigid return policy. Therefore, providing an instant return facility with home pick-up service increases the footfall of such users.
In the virtual shopping world, the biggest drawback is that the products cannot be touched or felt. Therefore, improving the customer experience by providing a sense of the real feel of the products or services helps the brand in winning the game.
Robust Payment System
The payment process through virtual banking service should be convenient as well as secured for the customers so that they enjoy a streamline shopping experience. Therefore, selecting an efficient payment partner is essential for companies.
Omnichannel Marketing Campaign
A company’s marketing approach should be an ongoing process consisting of various omnichannel strategies to result into a successful campaign.
Given below are the steps followed by the brands while carrying out an omnichannel marketing campaign:
- Redefine Your Identity: The modern world customers seek for the brand that maintains a global identity instead of being limited to a physical store.
- Focus on Target Audience: To pitch the brand, concentrate on the mediums or channels mostly surfed by your target customer base to increase the conversion rate.
- Make Visually Attractive Brand: The brand visuals or advertisements with a perfect blend of information and colours seems highly attractive to the audience.
- Establish Strategies: Sticking to a single strategy is the old trend. Thus, adopting a series of different techniques make things work proficiently.
- Develop Shoppable Touchpoint: Users always look for effortless online shopping options. The brand needs to work out the accessible touchpoints where the customers can make a hassle-free purchase.
- Extend Your Reach: The company should never stop connecting with the users. For this purpose, new channels, technology and platforms should be explored to reach out potential audience.
- Keep on Optimizing: As the technology upgrades, so does the need for refining and updating the retail strategy arises. It helps the brand to cope up with the changing scenario.
Advantages of Omnichannel Retailing
The company can increase its sales tremendously through omnichannel retailing. Given below are the eminent benefits of adopting this strategy:
Resource Optimization: The company can make use of this strategy to properly channelize its retail functions and thus, systematically employing all its resources (whether human or material) towards goal accomplishment.
Brand Recognition: Delivering uninterrupted retail services on almost every channel results in universal branding. It ultimately helps the company to procure and retain more happy customers.
Data Acquisition: The tools such as Google Analytics help the business to capture essential customer insights such as their favourite brand, product requirement, last purchase, channel preference, etc.
Higher Rate of Conversion: It is an effective strategy for pitching the brand to the target audience. Therefore, the rate of transforming prospective customers into buyers is certainly more.
Time and Cost-Effective: When the consumers can instantly purchase the company’s product on their preferred channel, both the organization’s and the users’ time can be saved. Also, the unnecessary expense of advertising or marketing can be reduced.
Better Consumer Experience: With multiple discount offers, loyalty programmes and relationship marketing carried out on different channels, customers can connect with the brand.
Higher Customer Retention Rate: If the company keeps on upgrading its technology to make the use of relevant channels more convenient for the consumers, it helps the company to maintain its existing customers.
Omnichannel Retail Challenges
Many obstacles come along the way of successfully implementing this kind of retailing technique.
Out of these, major ones are stated below:
Technological Barriers: Omnichannel retailing relies on technology, therefore failing to adopt technological advancement leads to business breakdown. This is common in organizations which are quite rigid in modifying their retail process.
Change in Organization Structure: To apply the omnichannel retailing strategy, the whole organizational structure needs to be revised. This change is indeed a tedious task for the management.
Channels Integration: Inter-connecting all the channels to such an extent that a purchase made through one channel is easily returnable using the other is a complex task.
Inventory Management: While the business is catering customers through different channels, the market eventually expends. Thus, improper inventory management could result in declining orders or failing to meet the demand on time.
Managing Warehouses: When a company integrates different channels, keeping the warehouse updated becomes crucial. It is difficult to organize the stock proactively at these storage units for the dispatch staff.
Business Partners Selection: Finding out the most appropriate business partners i.e., logistics, packaging, shipping, customer service, etc. is not a child’s play. A single erroneous link may spoil your retail chain, leaving a bad name for the organization.
Security Threats: It is quite challenging to enforce an Omni-secured system to make this retailing strategy work efficiently. It includes dealing with cybercrime, policy loopholes, device malware, etc.
In the present scenario, we all are experiencing a revolution of virtualization where people value time more than anything else. This digital transformation has even influenced the way people shop for products or services.
Therefore, to cope with this changing business environment, companies have to go for omnichannel retailing. Almost every big brand has coordinated its retail channels to make shopping effortless for their customers.