Omni (Latin) translates into English as “all” — a very useful syllable indeed. Dictionary.com explains Omni as “a combining form… used in the formation of compound words: such as omnifarious; omnipotence; omniscient.”
Omnifarious. Now that’s a great word suiting our purposes. The spell checker didn’t get it, but Merriam-Webster defines “omnifarious: of all varieties, forms, or kinds — as in omnifarious interests.”
Omni-channel retail (or omnichannel retail depending on the source) decodes to “retail activities that integrate the different methods of shopping available to consumers.” Omnichannel merchants may therefore provide a physical store; accept orders by mail and phone; and sell online simultaneously.
But wait — you argue. Ecommerce merchants don’t always have or want a bricks and mortar retail store, nor to accept MOTO orders. So what’s the point in reading any more about this omnichannel retail stuff?
The point, dear ecommerce merchant, is to understand more about your customers and why they want and expect the same (good) experience through whatever channels your retail empire offers — whether you espouse Omnichannel retail or not.
In fact, omnichannel retail is mostly about customer experience. Marketing experts at HubSpot say, “… omni-channel is defined as a multi-channel sales approach that provides the customer with an integrated shopping experience… from a desktop or mobile device, or by telephone… the experience would be seamless.”
As we’ve asked you before, have you tested the online shopping experience offered on your website? Is it always the same — using any digital device — for every one of your digital customers?
Close Gaps with a Cohesive Omnichannel Retail Strategy
Much has been published about omnichannel retail strategies, but few sources share the same points of view, other than defining the term.
Experts (like Mike Wittenstein, founder and managing partner at Storyminers) tell us what customers really want (and value the most) is “value add” from retailers. The lowest price isn’t all they want.
Omnichannel retail customers want a fair price for products — along with convenience, after-sale services, reasonable return policies, ease-of-use, friendly service, and a host of other goodies that matter to them personally. You’re in control of delivering each of those items.
A full host of other consultants and online marketing experts has weighed in too. From the Harvard Business Review to Accenture, you’ll find more discussion about the tenets of omnichannel retail best practices along with case studies demonstrating success.
Among the most provocative ideas encountered when researching this post was: Let competitors benefit from the information (data) you glean when potential buyers browse your website.
If someone has browsed and perhaps “saved for later” certain products, let other merchants know about it. Give the customers a leg up on their next retail experience to make their purchases easier.
Modify your thinking from “my customers” or “your customers” to embrace “all customers” instead. The payoff will be better data shared by omnichannel retail customers (those who purchase in multiple ways at multiple locations). Perhaps of more value in the future as data sharing technologies evolve, but worth thinking about.
For another view and several useful examples that will resonate with any modern shopper, check out this Google post about omnichannel retail and the info graphic detailing study results on who shops where (and how much) incorporated here. Why go to the trouble to look?
Because the better you understand how to sell to all customers in multiple ways, the more successful your ecommerce venture.
How Ecommerce Comes to the Rescue for Bricks-and-Mortar Stores — and Customers Who Don’t Want to Move On
We all know that nothing lasts forever. Even iconic stores (think Marshall Field’s in Chicago, Stollery’s in Toronto, and Comet in the U.K.) shuttered windows and logged their final sales some time ago. More are likely to fade away this year — or to close lots of branches.
But even if national or international retailers make a financial decision to close brick-and-mortar presence in a territory, they can still serve the same loyal audience via the online channel.
Customers do get hooked on brands when everything fits just right without alterations. Those wanting a particular brand can buy it online if the right capabilities are included in the company’s marketing mix.
David Kornberg, Express, Inc. president and chief executive officer said it well when discussing the closure of its 17 stores in Canada while U.S. operations remain intact for now.
He emphasized the need to continue investing to grow their e-commerce business and “…continuing to build our omnichannel capabilities to allow our customers to engage with our brand and shop wherever, whenever, and however they want.”
It’s a difficult decision to close a shop-front business, but your financial and tax advisors may encourage that choice if you find yourself in a similar position (a thriving ecommerce business but a failing store).
Your store-front customers already know, like, and trust you enough to buy your products. Make it easy for them to become your online customers too!
And if you don’t yet have an ecommerce presence but you do have a bricks-and-mortar store, an omnichannel retail strategy including the ecommerce channel can expand your customer base and provide a hedge for the future.
Omnichannel retail is the current way to say multi-channel marketing. Plus it’s more — a more robust focus on the customer experience you offer. The easier it is for customers to find you, browse your website for products or services, make their selection, and buy, the more customers you’ll both gain and retain.
One of the most important steps you can take along the road to omnichannel retail success is to choose the right payments processor.
There are many options open to you in the payments industry. But not all processors enjoy the same strong reputation or know the payments industry from the inside. It may seem complicated for those new to the industry, but it doesn’t have to be that way for you.
Selecting a processing partner that makes your success a high priority is the way you want to go. Be sure to choose a processor who views you as a business partner and who also treats you like one.
Because you have better things to do that to worry about the latest marketing buzzwords. But it’s helpful to learn from and to work with someone who keeps up with both — and with how they relate to your payments processing needs.