With technological advances, the omnichannel movement is reshaping the retail industry in a way where eCommerce giants seem to take it all, leaving the ones who haven’t embarked on that train wondering how to break into omnichannel retailing. The advent of the marketplace, emerging technologies, and fierce competition from major eCommerce players, paired with shifts in consumer behavior are all moving faster than the rate of omnichannel integration. Undeniably, as technology blurs the distinctions between physical and online stores, retailers and their supply-chain partners need to rethink their competitive strategies. Nonetheless, apart from holistic approaches in designing an omnichannel strategy, there are ways to ease the switch to omnichannel retailing. More than just looking at considerations for your shift to an omnichannel strategy, we bring you 4 tips to break into omnichannel retailing.
Per definition, an omnichannel retail strategy is first and foremost an approach to sales and marketing that offers customers a seamlessly integrated shopping experience by consolidating user experiences from brick-and-mortar to mobile-browsing and everything in between.
A report published in the MIT Sloan Management Review on How to win in an omnichannel world shows that retail customers are now “omnichannel” in their outlook and behavior — they use both online and offline retail channels readily. To thrive in this new environment, retailers need to put in place innovative ways in providing customers with information and products, hybrid online-offline approaches, including showrooms and “buy online, pick up in store” options.
With many things to keep in mind, best practices in developing an omnichannel strategy include:
- Providing attractive pricing and curated content for an easier browsing;
- Optimizing the use of data and analytics to anticipate customer needs;
- Focusing on differentiation, exclusivity, and bundles as ways to avoid direct price comparisons;
- Learning to make the best of long tail products and niches;
- Emphasizing product knowledge;
- Establishing switching costs through loyalty programs focused on user experience;
- Embracing transparency when dealing with competition;
- And more…
From these high-level recommendations with more long-term implications, we can give you a more tactical aspect. Here are 4 tips which any business with an online store can apply to break into omnichannel retailing:
- Add niche products to your offering
Research published in the MIT Sloan Management Review on competing in the age of omnichannel retailing shows that internet retailers faced significant competition from brick-and-mortar retailers when selling mainstream products, but were virtually immune from competition when selling niche products. Furthermore, consumers now expect their online shopping experience to be customized from beginning to end. It becomes therefore apparent that product personalization is the way to conquer niche segments and allow for a competitive advantage in the omnichannel world.
- Offer a “buy online pick up in store” option
Click & collect, the marketing catchphrase for the option to buy online, pick up in store is just another example of how e-Commerce sales can drive in-store traffic. In 2019, “buy online pickup in store”, increasingly being referred to as BOPIS, has gained serious adoption, with 68% of US consumers having made multiple click & collect purchases. Moreover, for 2019’s Black Friday, 82% of BOPIS shoppers in the US reported making additional purchases while picking up their orders. This is a great example of an easy step to integrate your online and offline retail channels and break into omnichannel retail, but also quickly get a return on investment on the strategy.
- Sell in a marketplace
As the customer’s journey is translated to the virtual world, it is important for your business to reach customers where they are. With the majority of consumers preferring to shop online than making in-store purchases, and with near-majority of Americans making purchases on Amazon on at least a monthly basis, the »why » to sell in a marketplace becomes quite apparent. Selling in a marketplace helps alleviate the pains of comprehensive inventory management, necessary for a seamless omnichannel experience, as it opens the door to drop shipping, a practice of order fulfillment where a manufacturer or distributor ships a product to a consumer on behalf of the retailer. This trend is certainly confirmed when major marketplaces such as Amazon decide to backward-integrate into manufacturing.
- Connect with worldwide network of fullfillers
A great example of this when Mediaclip and Cloudprinter integrate to enable webstores to easily offer online product customization to consumers with the added benefit of automatically connecting their orders to the nearest service provider for fulfillment. From these partnerships, new opportunities for retailers and fullfillers arise as they are an effective way to break into seamless omnichannel retailing. Indeed, this initiative gives the customer what they want in record-time, from a local supplier, and at minimized operational and environmental costs.