Woman with face mask going through check list on smart phone while buying in supermarket.

Omnichannel Retail Strategy More than Sales, Marketing

by | Sep 22, 2020

By now, just about every store owner has heard the term “omnichannel retail strategy.” If not, it refers to the concept of having a single, cohesive, all-encompassing approach that links all marketing and sales efforts. In theory, shoppers recognize and can easily purchase the same items they find on a store’s website that are on its brick-and-mortar shelves. It also links branding, advertising, marketing and sales, customer rewards, and more. In 2020, many brick-and-mortar stores with omnichannel strategies and tools were able to keep selling and serving customers while their doors were locked while stores without dynamic e-commerce sales and curbside pickup or delivery programs failed. Omnichannel retail became essential during the economic shutdown. 

However, omnichannel means more than linking sales and marketing, though. If it’s utilized completely and correctly, it also means having a single touchpoint or a control panel that can manage all aspects of a business. ​

“Omni” defined

The Latin root of the word “Omni,” simply means “all.” Its combining form, which is commonly used as a prefix as in omnipresence, omnivore and omnipotent, means “all, in all ways, places, et cetera. Without limits.” 

Applying that to marketing, an omnichannel retail strategy is one in which organizations use many channels – online, social media, print, in-store and more – in a single, cohesive effort to improve their shopping experience and create better relationships with their customers. The omnichannel retail strategy allows brands to be more easily recognized and used by customers no matter how they chose to engage. 

Advantages of omni

Cohesiveness is the most obvious advantage of an omnichannel retail strategy. Brick-and-mortar stores that also sell through their own websites, maybe have a Facebook or Amazon account, offer online content such as a newsletter or blog, and use print advertising or in-store coupons, can tie all those products together with such a strategy. 

Linked together through a digital retail platform, omnichannel retail strategies can be easily controlled and monitored providing customers an enjoyable, cohesive shopping experience while providing businesses improved and more trackable results. 

“Consumers expect more from merchants today. Due in part to the evolution of retail, which now offers more personalized choices from e-commerce companies, shoppers want similar features from their neighborhood stores,” says Dan Nesmith, president of Paladin Data Corporation, which develops and provides digital business platforms.

Reasons to omnichannel

All generations are now using technology to shop. Not surprisingly, Baby Boomers favor the hands-on abilities of touching products and trying on apparel in brick-and-mortar stores while the younger generations are more apt to use digital means. However, just about all shoppers today use a variety of channels when either researching or making retail purchases. 

A new study of 46,000 consumers by Retail Dive shows that 73% of them use “multiple channels” – meaning internet searches, mobile apps, in-store kiosks, or browsing – when shopping. The study also shows that these omnichannel consumers spend an average of 4% more when shopping in a store and 10% more when shopping online. Those shoppers also make 23% more repeat visits to those stores within six months of their initial trip. Other relevant reasons to omnichannel include: 

  • 40% of shoppers use Buy Online, Pick up In-Store (BOPIS) (Source: National Retail Federation)
  • Around two-thirds (65%) are using e-commerce apps mostly to receive offers and deals (Source: Clutch.co
  • 40% of e-commerce sales came from mobile devices in 2018. This figure is expected to grow to 54% by 2021. Mobile apps are primarily used to: Check prices (71%); Make purchase (62%); Reserve items for pickup (34%); Navigate a store (22%).

Omnichannel experience

Omnichannel retail strategies utilize every digital tool a business has at its disposal, the most obvious being web outreach and sales.  

Omnichannel efforts include products or a brand, marketing, sales, inventory control, and customer management and allow businesses to control each aspect. Some examples of successful omnichannel customer experiences include: 

Bloomingdale’s is one of three large retailers to top Total Retail’s 2019 Top 100 Omnichannel Retailers list. Sports apparel company Lidz and JCPenney, which declared bankruptcy in 2020, shared the top spot in the study. Bloomingdale’s was lauded for its mobile app features that offer “Scan & Send” which enables in-store shoppers who can’t find exactly what they’re seeking to scan an item to check on availability and have it shipped to their home. 

Home Depot, the No. 1 hardware retailer in the country, is the top hardware store in Total Retail’s list. In 2018, the company began its One Home Depot strategy to create a seamless shopping experience across all channels. 

Ace Hardware is one of the top omnichannel sellers for independent hardware stores. The company has worked for several years to improve its e-commerce, delivery and curbside pickup programs for its co-op members. 

Walgreens has what is considered one of the top pharmacy omnichannel customer experiences. One of the key features allows customers to set up and refill prescriptions.  

“Buyers care about the entire shopping experience, so make sure to focus on more than just price. Things like convenience, selection, shipping times, return policies, all have an impact on the buyer,” says Jeff Dyksen, president of Diztinct, a website and e-commerce company. “Now that it is as easy as the click of the button for a buyer to jump from one site to another, brands need to make sure that they are offering the full package.” 

Building omnichannel

With the right tools, independent businesses can build omnichannel customer experiences just as efficient and effective as the online giants and big-box stores. It all starts with a comprehensive plan and a platform on which to build it. 

In its “Global Omni-Channel Consumer Shopping Research Report,” Big Commerce says businesses planning an omnichannel retail strategy should consider: 

  • How to capture and track sales data to target marketing messages 
  • Truly using multiple channels 
  • Consider the shopping experience the top priority
  • Automating the process as much as possible using helpful technology 

A comprehensive digital retail platform which includes inventory and sales data management, a customer incentive and rewards program, and multimedia features and integrations, provides many of the tools businesses need to manage an omnichannel marketing strategy. These platforms capture data and allow businesses to use it in a multitude of ways to enhance the shopping experience. 

“It’s important that independent businesses shift their thinking about data. Businesses need to become more aware of the data they have at their disposal and how to use it to their advantage,” says Jeff Rogers, marketing, sales and partnerships director at Paladin Data Corporation. “All businesses need to focus on the data they have available through their digital tools to constantly be improving their customer experience and product offering.” 

For online channels, it’s a good idea to utilize a marketing automation platform such as HubSpot, a marketing specialty company that facilitates creation, distribution and tracking of email and social media and website traffic.

Omnichannel business

Omnichannel is more than marketing and sales. It also means having a single point of control for an entire business whether it’s a single site or a multistore chain. The digital retail platform on which an omnichannel retail strategy is built can also allow owners or managers to control all aspects of a business from ordering, inventory and sales all the way to product delivery, workforce management and accounting. 

“All businesses need to focus on the data they have available through their digital tools to constantly be streamlining their operational processes and improving their customer experience, and product offering,” Rogers explains. 

Modern retail technology, through an array of features and specialty integrations, can simplify all retail processes, virtually eliminating tedious, time-consuming work. This gives business owners and managers more time to work with customers and connect with new shoppers. It all starts with an omnichannel retail strategy and the tools to make it work. 

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