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Omnichannel Retailing: The precise steps to implement your strategy

Omnichannel retailing is a technology miracle since it allows you to solve multiple customer pain points simultaneously. It is complex, no doubt, and with that comes the burden of implementing the solution correctly, so it works for your business goals.

The steps may seem complicated, but omnichannel retailing follows a brick-by-brick format where you can add and build on solution by solution, making it very agile and flexible. Each brick you add, you've added brownie points to the customer experience.

In 2021, customer experience is the pathway to acquire and retain customers for your brand, and as we all know, acquiring is the hardest part of the cycle. Omnichannel allows you to do that effectively.

Stage 1:  Opening physical or online business as a solo operation

Stage 1: Physical or online store

Whether you open an online store or a physical one, each of these routes has its structure and form. It's hard to add on technology until the company stabilizes in either form since managing the same can be tedious.

Example: One of the largest ecommerce stores in India for newborn, baby & kids products started retailing as an online store in 2010. The online business format enjoys solo operations and is extremely popular in the childcare product market.

Stage 2: Business extending its presence on multiple channels

Stage 2: Extend your presence from a single channel and move to other channels: from offline to online, or vice versa

It is crucial when retailers have found success with the existing channel and expand their product offerings utilizing a second channel<digit>1<digit>.

Example: The Indian eCommerce company for baby & kid's products shared in stage 1 expanded its foothold from an online store (1st channel) to more than 400 physical stores (2nd channel) in 2020.

To make this stage work and succeed in multichannel retailing, retailers need to follow these steps<digit>2<digit>:

Continuity of experience:

Nearly 67 percent of online shoppers use numerous channels. As a brand, the experience on every channel has to be uniform and equally satisfying to the customer. The channel is just a way to reach the consumer, and they shouldn't feel a disconnect at any stage.

Customer fulfilment:

73% of shoppers use multiple channels to shop. Create an app, shopping tool, or digital venue to serve as a consumer fulfilment point.

When fulfilling orders, consumers take time to make up their mind, which is why when the order is placed, the stock must be ready or at least accessible on any channel they decide to purchase on.

Centralize & consolidate:

According to an SAP survey, a multichannel strategy enhanced revenue for 74% of businesses. Centralizing and consolidating your marketing and technical product information offers a seamless buying experience.

Real-time shopping:

It was found that customers aren't just shopping but interacting in more than one location than ever. It is high time for employing cutting-edge technology to serve & attend to the customers in real-time.

Emphasis on interaction:

Brands are looking to always get in the good books of their consumers by building genuine, authentic relationships with them. When brands do go multichannel, they get tremendous opportunities to amass consumers and grow revenue. 

Customer relationships:

Every retailer longs for customer loyalty. It is better to achieve it via multichannel retailers as the shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than single-channel shoppers. 


Stage 3: Coordinated channel activity

Stage 3: Coordinate activities across all offline and online channels

It is the stage the retail industry is rushing to achieve in 2021. It is about the retailer's efforts to integrate many existing channels and leverage their strengths to provide a smooth consumer experience<digit>1<digit>.

Examples include leveraging physical stores for buying online, shipping from a physical store, processing online returns, and in the case of an online store, leveraging eCommerce marketplace platforms and selling on Instagram shops, and more.


Stage 4: Creating a unified look and feel across channels


Once the channels are integrated, retailers must work on delivering a consistent brand experience across all channels. Regardless of how your customers purchase, they should immediately recognize the style of your company or brand<digit>3<digit>.

For example, Apple's physical stores are purpose-built to demonstrate how its products work. Customers can readily conduct product research online before making a purchase. Their unique visual experience across all channels instantly identifies their products and marketing.



Stage 5: Share data across each channel

Stage 5: Collation of data across channels

To look at and understand data holistically, customer journeys need to be matched - online and offline. It’s not about where the purchase took place, but how. When data is understood, only then will you be able to match messaging to their needs<digit>3<digit>.

For example, a consumer visits a brand's physical store but cannot find the right colour and size of products. He surfs the internet & finds them at an online store. As the online and offline channels of the brand are controlled independently, brands cannot capture the customer activity on both channels simultaneously. When data across channels are not in sync, it is difficult to predict the next customer step.

Advantages of sharing data across channels<digit>4<digit>:

  • Creates a unified view of customer behaviour across channels
  • Analyze customer journeys to prioritize improvements that have the highest impact on business results
  • Get the power to identify at-risk customers before you lose their business
  • Every brand message with offer or interaction is hyper-personalized to individual customers
  • It helps uncover customer behaviour that signals their buying intentions

Stage 6: Personalizing customer experience

Stage 6: Data collation and analysis results in personalized customer experiences

Once customer data is synced across different channels, systems generate a complete customer profile & help businesses target the customers with a custom offer. It becomes relatively linear to check what these customers see, buy, and add to their shopping cart.

When you understand consumer behaviour and what makes them happy, you can customize customer experiences & put an end to shopping boundaries. Using this, you can suggest, predict & display related products bought by the customer on all the channels that will help them make decisions quickly and enjoy the shopping experience in the brand store.

Please note that your path to omnichannel retailing will depend upon your economic sector, business structure, and customer preferences. Be sure to analyze your targets, capabilities, and company norms carefully and follow these steps to craft a strategy of your own.


How to implement omnichannel retail for your brand?

As retailers have started selling their products online, they are increasingly becoming aware that they need to meet the customers wherever they are. Nowadays, you can see many companies marking their presence on smartphones, social media platforms, WhatsApp groups & more, thereby meeting them where their target customers are spending time.

The increasing demand for services such as online purchase and pick up in-store shop, ship from store, and other similar services are strong evidence of omnichannel trend adoption.


Conclusion

You can't afford to miss a single step of the omnichannel journey or take a shortcut to implement it in a shorter time. Each step works independently to strengthen your retail business and brings you closer to the dream of being an omnichannel company.

Conquering each step at a time is the key to success in any retail business. While there is no one way to implement omnichannel retailing, there are a few steps that can help you get started and provide a framework for future growth. Have any questions or comments? Connect with us for more information on how to make the transition to omnichannel retailing easily. 

<digit>1<digit>Walton, C. (2020, October 9). 5 stages of omnichannel retailing. Forbes. www.forbes.com/sites/christopherwalton/2020/10/09/5-stages-of-omnichannel-retailing.
<digit>2<digit>Kumar, R. (2018, May 15). 7 steps to succeed in multiple channel retail [infographic]. Digital Doughtnut. www.digitaldoughnut.com/articles/2018/may/7-steps-to-succeed-in-multiple-channel-retail.
<digit>3<digit>Team, O. (2021, June 25). Omnichannel retailing guide: 5 steps to build your strategy. OroCommerce. www.oroinc.com/b2b-ecommerce/blog/omni-channel-retail.
<digit>4<digit>M., & 22, bigpond webmail setup N. (2021, May 7). How to optimize omnichannel customer journeys with customer journey analytics. Pointillist. www.pointillist.com/blog/optimize-omnichannel-customer-journeys.

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