Neil Patel

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Omnichannel E-commerce: Strategies for Seamless Success

Omnichannel ecommerce strategies for seamless success.

Think back to the last time you made a big online purchase. If you’re like most consumers, there’s a good chance you interacted with the brand multiple times on different channels using different devices before you paid.

The customer journey isn’t straightforward anymore. It’s a meandering path where customers visit brands on different platforms before converting. To successfully target and convert consumers across every channel and platform, you need a unified marketing strategy. That’s the crux of an omnichannel commerce marketing campaign.

This article details what omnichannel commerce looks like, why it is crucial for e-commerce brands, and how you can create your own killer omnichannel commerce marketing campaign.

Key Omnichannel E-Commerce Insights

  • Omnichannel e-commerce creates a unified customer experience across multiple platforms
  • Omnichannel provides a better customer experience by allowing customers to switch devices or channels seamlessly.
  • Omnichannel e-commerce gives a personalized shopping experience regardless of platform.
  • Omnichannel is expected to grow by 13.8% annually between 2022 and 2030.
  • Omnichannel can improve customer retention and generate repeat online sales with an increasingly loyal customer base.
  • Omnichannel customers spend, on average, 13 percent more than single-channel shoppers.
  • Brands with three or more channels have a massive increase in orders compared to companies using a single-channel approach.
  • Multichannel marketing can sometimes lead to inconsistent branding and a poorer customer experience.
  • Omnichannel commerce focuses on offering a cohesive experience across all channels.

What Is Omnichannel E-commerce and Why Is It Important?

omnichannel e-commerce graph omnichannel commerce

Omnichannel e-commerce is a marketing approach that creates a unified customer experience across multiple platforms. Specifically, omnichannel retailers create a seamless experience that transcends individual platforms.

This differs from multichannel e-commerce, where brands sell across different channels but offer different experiences. While consumers can shop on social media, a website, and a brick-and-mortar store, they can’t move seamlessly between them.

There is one other form of commerce: single-channel e-commerce. This is when brands only sell through one channel. That could be a traditional store, an online shop or a marketplace like Amazon. This approach limits brands to just one platform, which can be devastating if that platform makes changes.

An omnichannel e-commerce experience sounds better than a multichannel or single-channel experience, right?

That’s reason enough to adopt an omnichannel approach, but it’s not the only reason you should. Omnichannel commerce provides a better customer experience and allows your brand to use new platforms, increase customer retention rates, and boost sales.

Omnichannel E-Commerce Strategies Provide a Better Customer Experience

According to a feedonomics report, 90 percent of online shoppers use “multiple channels to search and spend.” Why does that matter?

Convenience rules when it comes to e-commerce; just ask Amazon. However, it’s not enough to offer a great selection, competitive pricing, and next-day delivery. Brands must show up where their customers are and offer a seamless experience when they switch devices or channels.

Take off your marketer’s cap for a second, and remember that most consumers don’t view their shopping experience as separated. It’s all one journey to them, and that’s exactly how an omnichannel e-commerce experience approaches it.

As you can see from the infographic by OSF Digital below, customers can benefit from an omnichannel experience in several different ways. They can:

  • Check the availability of products
  • Reserve or buy items and pick them up in-store
  • Have constant access to their profile information
  • Enjoy a personalized shopping experience regardless of platform
omnichannel retail index 2023 chart omnichannel commerce

Omnichannel Is the Future of E-commerce

Want to future-proof your brand? Omnichannel is the way to go. According to Grand View Research, the omnichannel market size is expected to grow by 13.8% annually between 2022 and 2030.

omnichannel growth chart screenshot  omnichannel commerce

According to a recent survey by PWC, consumers shop fairly evenly between different online stores, even though most spending happens on marketplaces like Amazon and large retailers. 

As shown below, the top sources for doing pre-purchase research include search engines, Amazon, retailer websites, customer reviews, and social media. That means having strong SEO, Amazon optimization, customer testimonials, and social strategies are key to a successful omnichannel commerce campaign.

Omnichannel commerce graph.

Increase Customer Retention Rates and Sales

Omnichannel ecommerce marketing isn’t just good for customers; it can be incredibly profitable.

An omnichannel approach can improve customer retention, meaning you can generate repeat online sales with an increasingly loyal customer base.

Omnichannel customers are better customers in the long run, too. As you can see, customers spend, on average, 13 percent more than single-channel shoppers:

omnichannel strategy benefits image omnichannel commerce

Research also shows that brands with three or more channels saw a whopping 494% increase in orders over companies using a single-channel approach.

Omnichannel vs. Multichannel E-commerce

Omnichannel e-commerce takes multichannel commerce a step further by creating a single, unified customer experience. It allows customers to interact with a brand across multiple touchpoints like physical stores, social media, and mobile apps.

While multichannel marketing offers flexibility and a wider reach, it can sometimes lead to inconsistent branding and a poorer customer experience.

Other main differences include:

Multichannel MarketingOmnichannel Marketing
Messaging and branding isn’t always consistent.Consistent brand image and messaging across online and offline channels
Channels work in isolation, which can lead to a disjointed shopping experience.Omnichannel commerce focuses on offering a cohesive experience across all channels.
Communication channels lack integration.Interconnected communication channels
Customer journey lacks synchronization.Offers a seamless customer journey
Product-centricCustomer-centric

9 Tips for Building a Successful Omnichannel E-commerce Marketing Campaign

Omnichannel e-commerce marketing is essential for brick-and-mortar or digitally native brands that want to drive more e-commerce traffic and increase e-commerce sales in the years ahead.

Here’s what it takes to run a successful campaign.

1. Identify Each Channel’s Opportunities

Every channel is important in an omnichannel e-commerce strategy, but they play different roles. Begin by identifying where your customers spend the most time, how they interact with these channels, and the products they usually buy.

Some channels are better for advertising particular products, while others may work well for customer service. For example, an enterprise software company probably won’t get many direct conversions from X, but they can still engage prospective customers there.

Remember that your omnichannel ecommerce strategy shouldn’t include every marketing platform. If none of your customers use TikTok, creating a presence is pointless. Omnichannel should focus on the channels your customers use.

2. Understand Your Customer’s Needs

An omnichannel ecommerce strategy should put your customers front and center. Every business likes to think they know their customers, but how much do you really know about them? Now is the time to find out.

Think about the channels where your customers hang out. What content do they like to see on those channels? When are they most likely to convert? These are the questions you have to answer.

You can use data to understand how customers interact with your brands across each channel, but don’t be afraid to speak with them directly through surveys and polls. This may help you uncover things you didn’t know about the buyer’s journey.

Building Omnichannel Buyer Personas

Ready to get started with your omnichannel commerce strategy? Great! But before you can do that, you need to know your customer.

Or, as Seth Godin puts it:

“Successful omnichannel marketing requires a deep understanding of your customers, their behaviors, and preferences to deliver relevant experiences that build lasting relationships.”

That’s where a customer journey map comes in.

You can start building your customer journey map by looking at your existing data and channels. For example, you can use free tools like GA4 to view acquisition points and funnel reports to spot the most critical touch points. 

Next, view your social media data. Which platforms do your customers prefer, and what are their preferences? What content do they engage with most, and do their interactions with you show any common pain points? Use a free template if that makes things easier.

From there, you can start working on a customer persona for current and future customers. You’ll want to focus on areas like:

  • Demographics
  • Behaviors/buying habits
  • Motivations
  • Devices they use
  • Preferred platforms
  • Pain points

With the basics covered, you should complete further research to understand your audience thoroughly. You can use surveys, interviews, or other market research to understand your customers’ needs, behaviors, concerns, and preferences.

Next, segment your audience by standard demographics or characteristics to target your audience more precisely.

Don’t leave it there, though.

Keep analyzing your data and updating personas/journey maps according to changing consumer behaviors, preferences, and seasonal and market trends.

3. Personalize Ads and Messages

Providing contextual, personalized messages is essential. Why? Marketing metrics show that  80 percent of frequent shoppers exclusively purchase from brands that personalize their experience, leading to a 93 percent increase in conversion rates after implementing personalization.

These days, customers expect more than an omnichannel experience; they expect personalization at every touchpoint on every channel. They want to land on your website and see the products they frequently buy. They expect the emails in their inbox to contain offers and relevant marketing messages that make them want to click-through and buy.

You don’t need to personalize your messaging for individual customers, however. Instead, segment your audience into smaller groups that have the same traits. These traits can include:

  • demographics
  • shopping patterns
  • favorite channels
  • favorite products
  • spending amounts

Businesses can also implement personalized strategies in stores. It may be a little more complicated recommending related products online, but setting up kiosks or equipping shopping assistants with mobile devices can help bring the online experience in-store.

4. Keep Your Brand Voice Consistent

Apple, Nike, Wendy’s; there are some companies with instantly recognizable brand voices. Why? Because they have an unfailing commitment to maintaining consistency across every channel.

It doesn’t matter if you see an Apple ad on TV or in print, read the copy on their website, or even watch one of their product launches. The language and tone of voice are exactly the same. That’s the secret to developing a great omnichannel e-commerce marketing strategy. The more consistent your messaging and tone of voice are, the less likely you are to confuse consumers who then fall out of your marketing funnel.

At the same time, they’ll find your message much more engaging. It’s one thing to be hit with a promotional message in an email. It’s another thing to see that same message on social media, your website, and in-store.

You should also keep consistency in mind with your promotional strategies. It’s not an omnichannel ecommerce strategy if you’re running separate promotions in-store and online and aren’t allowing either shopper to use the other channels’ promotions.

5. Make Each Channel and Touchpoint Shoppable

An omnichannel commerce experience enables customers to purchase wherever they interact with your brand. Your online and brick-and-mortar stores are a given, but can they make purchases on social media channels or your app?

This wasn’t possible a while ago. Thanks to some pretty significant updates on the major social media platforms, it is now possible to drive sales through Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Don’t stop there, though. Consider expanding your reach to marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy, if appropriate. As we saw in the breakdown of omnichannel e-commerce spending above, marketplaces have the second-largest share of shoppers and drive the most sales.

Sure, in an ideal world, it’s better if customers buy your products on your own website. But having customers purchase on Amazon allows you to engage with them and bring them to your website.

6. Keep Testing and Gathering Data

Your omnichannel marketing for ecommerce strategy needs to evolve over time. Consumer habits change, new channels emerge, and existing platforms become less important. That’s why gathering data and continuing to test and refine your campaign is vital.

More data allows you to better optimize your campaign, and, ultimately, be more successful. Test your campaign as a whole and run live A/B tests on your personalized messaging to each customer segment. Tweaking headlines, body copy, and images can dramatically improve engagement and conversion rates.

7. Back It Up in the Back Office 

There’s no point in developing a killer omnichannel commerce marketing campaign if your backend operations can’t follow through on your promise.

Specifically, inventory visibility and management should be top of the list. Use an inventory management system that centralizes inventory across warehouses and physical storefronts, so no customer orders an out-of-stock product.

Shipping, fulfillment and returns are also important. Customers should have the ability to purchase their products in several ways, whether that’s having purchases delivered to their door or picking them up from their nearest store. The same goes for returns. In-store and online returns are essential components of a true omnichannel ecommerce strategy.

8. Always Focus on Customer Service

Customer experience matters.

A report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers shows that 80 percent of consumers feel speed and convenience are among the top elements of positive customer experience. Adopting an omnichannel commerce approach to your business can help you deliver just that. 

How?

Omnichannel e-commerce enables you to understand the customer journey better, allowing you to personalize the experience according to the shoppers’ preferences.

Additionally, it enables you to offer greater personalization and provide the seamless customer experience that buyers want these days. For example, Starbucks lets customers order from its app and pay with mobile payments, then collect the order from its stores or drive-thrus.

You’ll also want to focus on the backend by ensuring you have staff available and well-trained to answer customer queries and resolve any issues that may arise. Make it easier for customers to get in touch by using multiple options, like live chat, phone, and social.

Don’t be afraid to use AI-powered customer service tools, which can quickly direct customers to the resources they need while freeing up time and budget for your business.

Finally, take time to get feedback, read and respond to reviews, and use email marketing to connect with your customers. Prove to them that you care about their experience, even after they’ve completed their purchase.

9. Be Ready To Attribute Sales To Specific Channels

To monitor the success of your omnichannel commerce strategy, you must track which channels your sales are coming from.

This graph from Retaileconomics shows you just how valuable this data can be:

Retaileconomic channel preference by age group chart omnichannel commerce

See?

When you have detailed data like this, you can start marketing to your customers according to their preferences.

Here are some tips to help you track essential customer data:

  • Implement tracking mechanisms: Use promo codes, prepare for a cookieless future, or set up unique tracking URLs in your emails, PPC ads, and other advertising so you can attribute sales and other metrics to a specific marketing method. 
  • Integrate data across your online and offline channels. Ensure you track in-store, website, mobile app, and social media platforms to view customers’ behavior and preferences. There are plenty of omnichannel e-commerce tools to help you out.
  • Use analytics tools such as GA4 for data on sales trends, conversions, funnels, and the most popular platforms for driving traffic.
  • Use unique identifiers. These let you track customers’ interactions and purchases. You can monitor this through customer accounts, loyalty programs, or email addresses.
  • Examine customer touchpoints: Get a deeper understanding of the customer journey and the touchpoints customers take. This covers website visits, social media engagement, email interactions, and physical store visits.

As always, check and analyze your data regularly so you can continue to optimize your omnichannel commerce strategy. Apply what you’ve learned to improve the overall customer experience.

FAQs

What is omnichannel commerce, and how does it differ from multichannel commerce?

Omnichannel commerce uses an integrated, seamless approach to retailing and gives customers a consistent experience whether they’re buying online or offline.
The different sales platforms interconnect, giving the buyer a cohesive customer journey so they can transition seamlessly across platforms and still receive a consistent brand experience.
Multichannel commerce uses numerous channels, but they don’t usually integrate or offer a cohesive customer experience.

What are the key benefits of adopting an omnichannel approach to e-commerce?

An omnichannel approach improves customer experience and enhances inventory management due to the integration of offline and online systems.
By integrating systems, you also gain insights into customer behavior and preferences during various touchpoints. 
Additionally, it gives you more opportunities to engage with your customers across different channels.

How does omnichannel commerce impact inventory management and fulfillment?

It becomes more complex as you need to monitor stock across multiple channels and measure demand from various platforms.
When you use this business model, you’ll have to track and synchronize your inventory in real time to reduce the risk of overstocks or out of stock items. You’ll also need to forecast demand and possible trends, and manage stock effectively.

How can businesses measure the success and ROI of their omnichannel initiatives?

By using analytics tools. These can help you measure engagement rate, conversion rates, sales attribution, and customer lifetime value. When doing your analysis, make sure you combine your offline and online data.
With all your data available, you can compare your marketing costs with the revenue you’ve made and look for areas of optimization.

What trends are shaping the future of omnichannel commerce?

Shopify predicts that more digital brands will be going offline with pop-up stores and in-person experiences.
Social commerce, community building, and virtual and live stream shopping are also likely to be popular.
Then there’s our old friend personalization, which continues to be a necessity for brands that want to give customers what they want. 

Conclusion

Omnichannel marketing for e-commerce stores is becoming the norm. Customers expect a seamless experience when switching between devices and channels, and it’s your responsibility to deliver it.

A sound omnichannel e-commerce strategy significantly improves the customer experience, but it also drives better engagement, creates better customers, and leads to more sales. That puts it up there with some of the biggest factors of e-commerce success.

If you want to succeed with e-commerce, omnichannel marketing isn’t a strategy; it’s a requirement.

Want help setting up your marketing campaigns to align with your omnichannel e-commerce strategy? Let us know and our agency can help.

Which are the most important channels for your omnichannel commerce marketing campaign?

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