Before we delve into the specifics of omnichannel experiences and how to achieve them, we must tackle the basics and begin by answering an important question:
What is an omnichannel experience?
An omnichannel customer experience is an approach to commerce in which a customer can interact with a brand across multiple channels as part of one cohesive customer journey.
As such, a customer can interact with a brand by browsing and purchasing products through diverse channels, such as physical stores, social media, phone, email, etc., seamlessly while maintaining a homogenous personalized experience across all touchpoints.
Let's consider the following scenario:
A customer is scrolling on Instagram and gets an ad for a pair of shorts they like. After clicking the ad, Instagram redirects them to the brand's webshop.
While on the webshop, they read several customer reviews and check out pictures of customers who have purchased the shorts. Convinced by the reviews and photos, the customer decides to purchase the shorts, but unfortunately, their size is out of stock. The customer then clicks on an icon to be notified when the shorts are restocked in that size, thinking it's perhaps a long shot. However, they receive an email a few minutes after filling out the request.
The email indicates that there are, in fact, shorts in their selected size in stock at several physical stores nearby, and the customer can select a specific store to place them on hold for 48 hours.
The following day, the customer goes to the store, tries on the shorts, and purchases them. This results in a satisfactory customer journey achieved through four different channels: Instagram, the brand's website, email, and, finally, the brand's physical store.
What are the benefits of creating an omnichannel experience for customers?
Many benefits result from providing customers with an omnichannel experience. The first, perhaps most apparent, is increased customer engagement and satisfaction, as providing shoppers with multiple options to interact with your brand consistently and creating a personalized shopping experience makes for a pleasurable and convenient activity. This, in turn, is followed by an increase in customer and brand loyalty, as happy customers are likely to return. Additionally, happy customers are not only frequent ones but can also act as informal ambassadors for your brand, as word-of-mouth is arguably one of the best marketing strategies there are. Thus, if you can provide an optimal omnichannel experience for your customers, your brand will inevitably grow, increasing revenue. So, in a nutshell, the benefits of creating an omnichannel experience are:
- Increased customer engagement and satisfaction
- Increased customer and brand loyalty
- Increased revenue
As you can see, these benefits follow from one another, as they are the result of actions, which brings us to our next point:
How do you create an omnichannel shopping experience?
Creating a holistic omnichannel experience for customers is a process in itself, and it all begins with integration.
- Integration: All the different touchpoints must be integrated for data to be consistent across all channels. This consistency is best achieved through technologies that enable data sharing and synchronization across channels, and the preferred one is Alumio, an iPaaS (integration Platform as a Service).
If you are a retailer, you will likely want to integrate the following systems: marketing, inventory, accounting, POS, CRM, ERP, and PIM, to only name a few.
Integrating all these different systems will result in optimal customer data collection and management, enabling the creation of a personalized profile of each customer, including purchase history information, browsing behavior, preferences, and interactions.
By integrating your CRM system, which will gather and analyze all this data, with, for example, your marketing system, you can provide personalized and relevant shopping experiences for your customers via targeted messaging and product recommendations.
Another outcome of system integration is a cohesive customer service experience that allows for sharing of customer information across channels and provides different support options for diverse preferences, such as email, phone, or live chat.
Moreover, you will grant customers access to cross-channel inventory, meaning they can view real-time information about product availability across channels. This was exemplified in the scenario above, in which the customer could check the availability of an out-of-stock product via a different channel and place it on hold for later purchase.
This, in turn, results in smooth cross-channel transactions, in which customers can enjoy an easy purchasing experience regardless of the channel, enabling, for example, in-store pick-up and returns for online purchases.
How does Alumio empower omnichannel experiences?
Alumio enables data sharing and synchronization across all connected systems, ensuring that information isn't lost between touchpoints, thus guaranteeing a unified experience with up-to-date information at every stop of the customer journey.
Once all your systems are integrated, the rest is a piece of cake. Firstly, you must ensure consistent branding across channels by presenting uniform branding elements (visuals, messaging) across all platforms, as this will foster a cohesive brand experience and familiarity with the customer. Additionally, you should optimize your design for different devices, as this will create a seamless user experience across different devices, such as mobile apps and websites.
What does this look like in practice? Check out our case study to discover how Alumio created an omnichannel experience for ShoeStories. Spoiler: The integration resulted in the entire ShoeStories catalog available on their online store, a streamlined and automated order process from start to finish, and an updated inventory and product availability across channels.
An omnichannel experience can be encapsulated in the following terms: synchronization, personalization, cohesion, and convenience. In today's competitive e-commerce industry, brands must prioritize an integrated multichannel approach to ensure a smooth and personalized shopping journey for their customers, as it will boost customer engagement, foster loyalty, enhance customer service, and ultimately drive sales. With Alumio, e-commerce businesses can rest assured that their customers will enjoy a holistic omnichannel experience, which they will surely enjoy and repeat.
Are you ready to plan your omnichannel strategy and take your business to the next level? Click here to contact one of our specialists and prepare for growth!