Everything There’s To Know About an Omnichannel Retail Strategy
Every business is on the path of transformation— to foster innovation and stay ahead of the curve. Majority of new ideas and insights for innovation come from organizations’ increasing use of data and analytics. CIOs and IT leaders are recognizing this reality and implementing best-of-breed technologies and processes to manage data and build unique brand experience. We explore what it takes to chart path for data management and experience management for faster business results. Our collection of insights is more than technology. It’s vision and imagination. It helps CIOs build a business case for investment in digital transformation.
1. Comprehending Omnichannel Retail From a Global Perspective
A heightened sense of awareness for global retailing and IT consumerization has made retail brands engage in global conversations via extremely agile retail operating models— and omnichannel fits right into their scheme of things.
It helps them penetrate markets more deeply, enable a high degree of engagement with customers while adapting to globally accepted best practices. Omnichannel has fit exceptionally well with retail’s requirements. So much so that a high level of technological advancements in retail tech have been consistently nudging customers towards embracing newer innovations in retail. Besides, increased exposure to cross-culture trends, diverse lifestyles, swift information exchange across the globe, and a humungous flow of information are some of the underlying environmental aspects in which omnichannel retail operates from a global standpoint.
a) What is Omnichannel?
According to Gartner, “Omnichannel is the seamless integration of digital and physical assets, typically in retail.”
Simply put, omnichannel is about making it convenient for customers to shop from any device, anytime, and from any channel. Imagine this: a pair of Nike sneakers catch a customer’s attention while she scrolls down her social media timeline on her tablet. After a while, on a subway train (on her mobile), she checks out the shoe on Nike’s brand site and puts it into the cart. Moments after deboarding the train, walking past a brick-and-mortar Nike store, she gets a signal on her mobile app from a beacon that the item is available in the shop. But being in a hurry, she doesn’t stop. Upon reaching home, she forgets about it but remembers it back around midnight after a notification on her mobile app. She rechecks it on her tablet and browses for a better pair for a few minutes, and finally purchases the shoe she had put into the cart from the comfort of her bed, but without reaching out for her physical credit card—through her mobile wallet, instead.
What she just indulged in was an omnichannel retail experience. It’s about putting your customer in the middle of a cross-channel, unified and integrated approach, spanning across online brand stores, mobile apps, marketplaces, brick and mortar stores, immersive technologies as well as IoT-enabled devices. In other words, the brand knows exactly where you left off but gives you the freedom to carry on at your will within the expansive ecosystem of channels, touchpoints, and devices.
b) How to Build an Omnichannel Retail Strategy?
An omnichannel retail strategy begins from where your customer is located, not just physically but also what channel they use to browse, hang out, chat up, make friends; channels that attract them and motivate them to spend time and shop. A simple way to look at this is by looking at an analytics engine such as Google Analytics, which shows the attribution towards your business conversion. Using any advanced analytics engine, you can see the entire path a customer has taken to make a purchase. Then comes integrating these technologies by breaking down the barriers that exist to create a seamless interaction between these channels. If the customer had first seen the pair of shoes (above example) on Facebook and was driven to the brand site from there, social media integration must be made more robust. Prioritize on connecting your physical and digital ecosystems, as customers also want to engage on physical sites for a tangible experience, which may not necessarily result in a purchase. Automation must be brought in, as catching up with marketplace leaders and fast-changing social media landscape requires your brand to be quick. Keep evolving; observe how different customers use devices and channels. Remember, a conversion only tells you a happy ending; it’s the story behind it that matters more.
Lastly, your end goal should be to make every experience shoppable so that whenever your target customer comes across your brand, you have an opportunity to engage them.
2. Multichannel vs. Omnichannel
A multichannel environment is where the retail organization has a presence on every channel, but the brand has a life of its own on those very channels. These channels may be brand social media pages, mobile apps, marketplaces, online or brick-and-mortar stores.
The brand would interact with customers and serve them on all these channels. However, no interconnectivity between them exists. That is, all the channels function separately.
So, a customer collecting a few items and putting them into a cart on a brand mobile app needs to do it all over again if he abandons the cart at that moment and decides to continue the shopping through the brand website.
Multichannel, therefore, is built from a brand perspective.
On the other hand, an Omnichannel retail environment is an interconnected web, where no silos exist between channels and a unified customer experience is offered regardless of the medium used by the customers.
Therefore, all the touchpoints used by the customers, the route they take, the way they engage are all part of a single integrated customer experience. The customer can pick up from exactly where they left off, whether it was on webshop, website, mobile, email, physical stores, or IoT. That’s because of a multifaceted approach that merges systems and processes so that from messages to social media marketing, retargeted ads, digital signages, all converse with customers in one voice.
Omnichannel hence is built from a customer perspective.
Read: Addressing the Omni-Channel Dilemma for Today's Retailer
3. What’s Data Management to Omnichannel Retail Strategy?
According to Gartner, in-store inventory visibility on product detail pages has gained the support of 71% retailers analyzed year over year, higher than 61% in 2018. If omnichannel is the engine, then data is the oil it runs on. And better product data management will result in an improved running of this engine. Retail organizations are breaking down data silos that prevail within various departments and systems. Data present in disparately running systems, including various 3rd party applications, is consolidated and enriched. This results in enhanced data transparency offering 360-degree views to multiple departments while significantly aiding operational efficiency. The data is finally pushed onto various output channels to provide integrated, seamless customer experiences. By uniting a phygital (physical + digital) ecosystem, all consumer touchpoints from mobile apps to online stores, social media apps, marketplaces, IoT devices, and physical stores are synchronized. The fast-paced nature of retail fueled by personalized, contextualized data not only delivers instant gratifying experiences to customers but leads them towards newer experiences by constantly raising the bar. Data-powered omnichannel retailing isn’t just restricted to purchase; it spans from the first contact to conversion, followed by fulfillment and post-purchase. Efficient data management is, therefore, the very foundation on which retail experiences are built.
4. Understanding the Evolving Digital Customer
Shopping journeys have not remained straight anymore, as customers have turned into a complex, adaptable digital native who is neither opposed to the traditional brick-and-mortar stores nor do they bat an eyelid before warming up to high-tech retail experiences. It’s observed that express loyalty to brands that treat them well with advanced customer-centric experiences. Owing to convenience, handheld devices have become their first point of inquiry. They use social media to converse and find out about products and know what’s the best deal available while switching through multiple devices. They use digital payment methods and self-checkout kiosks while subconsciously being drawn towards more personalized and contextualized experiences in a hashtag-oriented, photo-sharing world built on data-driven analytics. They like socially engaging with brands on polls, avail complimentary deals, and product-led entertainment. They share their experiences freely through surveys and forums. This wealth of information that customers provide becomes a goldmine of data that further feeds into what they want and do not want. Retailers looking to influence customers’ choices today must not only match up with their evolving habits but stay a step ahead by using high-end technology.
5. What’s Transforming the Relationship Between Omnichannel, Data, and Customer?
To match the nuanced decision-making of customers influenced by a massive inflow of information, increased exposure to cross-cultural trends, retailers’ focus must turn from “how to offer omnichannel experiences” to “which omnichannel experiences customers value most.” During the pandemic, the buy online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS), curbside pick-ups, and direct-to-customer (DTC) approach became a lifeline to sustain. Could it have been planned without an excellent data-driven experience? The answer is emphatic ‘No.’ Between omnichannel, data, and customers lie ‘experience.’
Customer experience (CX):
Seamless customer experience is a clear differentiator for adding and retaining new customers. On-time delivery, transparency in buying, receiving relevant communication, or simply excellent customer service will matter the most.
It’s no more a question of which enterprise offers technology experience on chatbots, augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR), wearables, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), or virtual personal assistants (VPAs). It’s a question of who makes it valuable for customers.
User experience (UX):
The good old user experience (UX) will continue to play a significant role in the enterprise customer acquisition strategy, as customers’ shopping behavior is heavily influenced by the UX they come across.
6. How PIM Lets You Steer Your Omnichannel Shopping Experience?
For retailers trying to create an omnichannel strategy, a Product Information Management (PIM) system truly fits like a glove by bringing all channels on a level playing field. A PIM creates an up-to-the-minute centralized repository of accurate data. It enables the integration of multiple applications by deploying APIs to speed-up data transfers. It syncs real-time inventory by dynamically managing data across systems and allows a unified view of products.
It helps create a connected retail experience by pushing product data to every channel, enabling uniform product representation across all touchpoints. It facilitates quick catalog creations, new product introductions, supports your marketing and sales teams to come up with target promotions, examines different metrics, and helps you sharpen your omnichannel strategy. Moreover, it gets more products to the market faster and brings customer fulfillment to the core of your retail omnichannel strategy.
7. Why Omnichannel is Integral to Customer Experience (CX) Management?
An omnichannel strategy bridges the gap between customers and their expectations. it helps retailers uncover the blind spots and smooth out bumpy points that have the potential to make you lose your customers.
The omnichannel approach not only enhances your customer experiences on specific customer-facing channels but also across them. It helps you get the whole picture through sound integration between systems so that communication with the customer can be enhanced at every step. An omnichannel customer experience supports personalization and contextualization by turning any interaction with the brand into an opportunity of conversion. This enhanced experience not only steps-up brand recall, improves brand perception, but understands customer needs, facilitates relevant offers, and tracks customer preferences across channels to tailor great experiences and drive customer satisfaction higher and higher.
By enabling consistent customer communication across a range of touchpoints like web, mobile, social platforms, IoT, digital marketplaces, kiosks, native platforms, and in-store experiences, it nurtures a more developed long-term customer relationship.
8. Choosing the Right PIM Partner for Your Omnichannel Success!
A Product information management (PIM) system facilitates exceptional API-led connectivity by helping aggregate product data from sources like CRMs, ERPs, legacy systems, and 3rd party applications. This generates a 360-degree view of data, ensuring product data accuracy and speed to make connected customer journeys possible. An ideal PIM should:
- Help you publish diverse product data attributes to various output channels in different formats simultaneously.
- Empower marketing and sales personnel to share updated product information and create targeted campaigns instantly.
- Boost your eCommerce reach by launching products across global regions and geographies.
- Enable shared workflows among employees, stakeholders, and 3rd parties by permitting swift access.
- Allow you to offer tailored content according to various customer segments to provide personalized experiences.
- Shorten your time-to-market, accelerate new product introductions, increase operational efficiency, and improve the rate of conversion.
Pimcore Use Case
How Pimcore PIM/MDM helped a Brand build an Omnichannel Strategy
The client’s product data, marketing data, and lots of other contents were scattered across the company. They were wasting time and energy on repetitive tasks; it was also causing inefficient time-to-market. An omnichannel strategy was completely missing as they had no eCommerce functionality for selling products.
Pimcore created a digital customer experience platform on top of Pimcore MDM. Firstly all relevant data was consolidated in a single platform. On top of this data, a personalized customer experience for output channels was developed. A B2B e-commerce solution for their partners was also executed. As a result, their waiting time got drastically reduced at checkouts. Customer experience for their visitors and partners improved significantly at all touchpoints, causing increase in revenue of several million US dollars.
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Some FAQs regarding an Omni Channel Strategy
1. What Do You Mean By an Omnichannel Retail Strategy?
An omnichannel retail strategy makes connected customer journeys possible by carrying out advanced data and system integrations, so customers can seamlessly hop between channels to browse or shop at their convenience.
2. What Do You Mean By an Omnichannel Customer Experience?
An omnichannel customer experience is what buyers undergo when they use multiple channels and devices to look, search, compare, decide, and buy products according to their preference, irrespective of the time or place. An omnichannel customer journey makes sure it remembers the buyers’ trajectory by treating the multiple routes as a single path to purchase.
3. How to Enhance My Omnichannel Experience?
An omnichannel experience can be enhanced by breaking down data silos within an enterprise ecosystem and integrating various systems and technologies so that product information remains consistent, accurate, complete on every channel, thereby helping customers carve their own shopping journey—one way to do it by implementing a PIM system.
4. How Does an Omnichannel Experience Strategy Help?
An omnichannel experience strategy systematically addresses the key pain areas and bottlenecks that hamper uninterrupted connectivity between customer touchpoints to make unified shopping journeys possible.