What is omni channel retail?
Omni channel retail is a strategic approach that involves retailers integrating all their sales, marketing, and customer support channels into one unified customer experience. This includes integrating shopping experiences across physical stores, webshops, mobile devices, social media, SMS, smart devices, and online marketplaces like Amazon.com, Bol.com, eBay, etc.
By breaking down the barriers between these channels, omni channel retail expands brand reach and product visibility drastically. At the same time, it provides customers with the convenience of starting their shopping experience on one channel and continuing it seamlessly on any other integrated channel or devices within the omni channel experience. All customer interactions are updated in real-time across all integrated channels, ensuring a consistent shopping experience at every touchpoint.
The concept of omni channel retail emerged as a response to the rise of e-commerce and the proliferation of smartphones revolutionizing the way people shop. In contrast to the traditional retail model, single-channel selling, and even multi-channel retail (where multiple sales channels operate in silos), omni channel retail allows shoppers to buy products from anywhere, anytime, and on any device.
Most importantly, instead of replacing brick-and-mortar shopping, omni channel retail actually enriches in-store experiences by integrating them with digital sales channels and technology by implementing e-commerce integrations. In fact, an increasingly large number of shoppers research products online and seek to buy them in-person. This has even given rise to a fast-growing shopping trend called “BOPIS (Buy Online Pick Up In-Store).
According to Insider Intelligence, “US shoppers spent more than $95 billion via BOPIS in 2022, making up 9% of all e-commerce sales”
What is BIOPIS and how does omni channel retail enable it?
BIOPIS (Buy Online, In-store Pickup) is a retail strategy that allows customers to make purchases online and collect their orders in a physical store, combining the convenience of online shopping with the immediacy of in-store pickup. Omni-channel retail enables BIOPIS by seamlessly integrating online and offline channels, enabling customers to browse, purchase, and pick up products across various touchpoints. This strategy not only provides customers with flexibility and convenience but also optimizes inventory management and enhances customer engagement, making it a win-win for both retailers and consumers.
However, BIOPIS is only just one of a plethora of benefits that omni channel strategies are revolutionizing the retail world with. Now that we’ve explored what is omni channel retail, let’s explore some more benefits.
What are the benefits of omni channel retail?
Omni channel retail involves creating a seamless customer journey by integrating various business processes and technologies, which results in a variety of business benefits and enhanced customer experiences, like:
1. Unifying customer data: Empowering personalizations
A key aspect of omni channel retail is the unification of customer data from across all integrated channels. By collecting and analyzing buying patterns and preferences from across touchpoints, businesses can create comprehensive customer profiles. This helps retailers personalize marketing efforts, offers, loyalty programs, and product promotions effectively, increasing conversions, customer loyalty, and overall sales.
2. Improving inventory visibility: Enhancing order fulfillment!
Omni channel retail enables real-time visibility and synchronization of inventory levels across all channels. When a customer shops online, it allows them to check if a product is available in a nearby store for immediate pickup, if it can be shipped to them from the store, or if it offers same-day delivery. This transparency reduces frustration and improves order fulfillment significantly. On the business side, omni channel retail enables efficient inventory management, reduces overstocking, and prevents stockouts, minimizing revenue losses and ensuring optimal product availability.
3. Multi-platform presence: Increased product visibility!
As mentioned before, omni channel retailers maintain a presence across various platforms, from brick-and-mortar stores to e-commerce websites, mobile apps, social media channels, and online marketplaces. Unlike multi channel commerce, which involves a more siloed presence on these channels, omni channel retail involves integrating all these channels and touchpoints. Thus, apart from increasing product visibility and reaching out to a wider audience, omni channel retail also generates unique customer insights across these diverse touchpoints. Most importantly, it allows shoppers to experience a consistent and interconnected experience that allows them to flexibly switch between or combine shopping in-person, mobile shopping, and web browsing. Bigger omni channel retail experiences extend to involve IoT smart devices like voice assistants, smart watches, etc., to get notifications and to complete purchases.
4. Omni channel customer service: Reduced order failures and abandoned carts!
By providing customers with consistent and responsive support across various touchpoints, omni channel retail helps address customer issues and concerns in real-time. For example, if a customer encounters a problem during their online checkout process, they can easily switch to a live chat or make a quick call to resolve the issue, rather than abandoning their cart in frustration. Furthermore, omni channel customer service enables retailers to automate reminders to customers who abandon filled shopping carts. By offering assistance or incentives through personalized messages via email, SMS, or social media, businesses can recover potentially lost sales and ensure a smoother shopping experience. In essence, omni channel customer service not only improves customer satisfaction but also contributes significantly to the bottom line by minimizing order failures and reducing abandoned carts.
Explore more unique benefits of omni channel commerce for customers and businesses →
Why is omni channel retail important for modern businesses?
Transitioning to an omni channel retail model is not without its challenges, but where it once might have seemed like a novelty, it’s now an inevitable necessity. Here are a few reasons why omni channel is a future-proof approach for retailers:
1. Enhanced customer experiences
The integrated product experience across channels and devices that omni channel retail establishes isn’t just a convenience but leads to increased customer retention and word-of-mouth referrals.
2. Competitive Advantage
In a crowded marketplace, omni channel retail allows businesses to adapt to changing consumer behaviors and adopt new market trends more effectively. This gives them an edge over competitors who rely on traditional methods.
3. Data-Driven Insights
Acquiring customer data and valuable insights from various touchpoints, omni channel retail valuable enables smarter decision-making and more effective marketing strategies.
4. Increased Sales and Revenue
Omni channel retail can boost sales by making it easier for customers to find and purchase products. The consistent and convenient shopping experience it provides ensures higher repeat purchases.
Discover in detail the many different kinds of omni channel experiences →
In a world where consumers increasingly expect convenience, personalization, and seamless experiences, omni channel retail has become a necessity for businesses. By integrating various sales and marketing channels, maintaining a unified customer view, and prioritizing the customer journey, it offers a host of benefits, from improved customer engagement to increased sales and revenue. As a result, omni channel retail has gone beyond being a trend and is now a fundamental shift in the shopping experiences retailers provide customers.