What is Omnichannel Retailing
In today’s world, online and offline shopping are no longer separate experiences. The retail consumer now prefers to make purchases digitally, in-store, and through mobile apps equally. To put it another way, they want the freedom to shop however they find most convenient at the moment. A typical example of this would be buying online and picking up the items at the curb. In accordance with IBM, 27% of retail consumers and 36% of Gen Z use omnichannel shopping for their purchases. A campaign that used three or more channels earned 494% more orders than a campaign that used a single channel. In fact, 39% of buyers prefer to buy from brands that offer a unified experience across all their channels, and the trend is only increasing! To understand more about the omnichannel mode, we must first understand how shopping has evolved.
Brick & Mortar, Cross-channel, Multi-channel
The retail sector started with “Brick & Mortar”, which was the only channel to reach out to end consumers. As retailers moved from one channel to several channels, such as TV, Internet, store, etc., they began selling products through a variety of channels. Since they now used multiple channels, the business model was called multichannel. The multichannel business model gave way to the cross-channel business model, where consumers could shop through multiple channels but these channels were connected to one another.
Using multi-channel, for example, you may be selling through mobile apps, through your store, and also through your website, but there is no provision for customers who purchase in the store and wish to exchange online. Online customers get different offers, loyalty programs, and discounts than in-store customers. In today’s retail world, more than 80% of brands operate in a cross-channel or multichannel model giving a pathway to omnichannel mode of shopping. In the minds of 21st century consumers, omnichannel shopping has become a way of life and is definitely the future of retail.
So, What is Omnichannel Retailing?
As per the etymology, When a retailer is present everywhere, across all channels and all of these channels are completely interconnected, you become an “Omnichannel brand”. A major difference between all the other channels and omnichannel is that it’s all about customers, not channels.
Omnichannel retail involves engaging customers through both digital and physical channels. Customers move across these channels, bringing applications and data with them. As a result, a consistent, on-brand experience is created from beginning to end. As a result, large brands are now utilizing an omnichannel store as part of their marketing strategy to further their reach, visibility, and impact with consumers.
For example, one can easily buy online, return in-store, or order online-pick up in-store. Buyers can redeem loyalty points accumulated through the website or in stores with the Omnichannel Loyalty Program. The brand experience is unified across channels. Products are priced consistently across all channels, and deliveries are made as soon as possible (in fact, grocery retailers deliver within minutes).
A brand should be present where the customer is, not ask them to be present where they are! A few brands that have successfully adopted the “Omnicharnnel” experience are:
- Abercrombie & Fitch
- Foot Locker Retail
- J.C. Penney
- Macy’s department store
- Hema stores by Alibaba
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