Why You Need To Start Paying Attention to Omni-Channel Retail

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What makes Apple such a successful company?

It could be that their products are user-friendly and pretty good quality. That their iPhone revolutionised how we use a mobile device. Or that their laptops are shiny.

But no, what makes Apple such a successful company is that its users use them everywhere. It’s not just your computer - it’s your TV, your phone, how you pay for coffee, your GPS, what keeps track of your health, where you get the time and weather, your calendar, how you video call, where you get your music and podcasts, and the creator of dozens of software applications you use in daily life. Your data’s sent to Apple. Your log-in and credit card that you store with Apple are used for any of thousands of apps and services. Although other tech companies make high quality computers, phones and tablets, none are in as many facets of one person’s life as Apple.

People who use Apple products continue to use Apple products and their subsidiaries because they are familiar with them, trust them and they all work seamlessly together.

That’s what’s currently termed “omnipresent” or the concept of having an entry into customer’s lives in many different ways, both digital and in-person. Omni-channel retail is hard to achieve, and only a few companies are truly omnipresent, but striving for omni can put your business in a stronger position.

How is omni-channel retail any different from multi-channel?

We’ve talked a lot about different sales channels you can use to sell your products, and it’s one of the easiest ways to expand your online presence with Shopify. Using Shopify, you can expand to channels like Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and eBay, in addition to any retail stores and your online website. This is what we call multi-channel -- finding the most convenient platform for your customers and advertising your products on each to expand your outreach.

Omni is a little different. To be truly omni-channel, you use information from one channel to invite a customer to use another channel. This could mean offering online coupons to redeem in-store. It could mean offering free wifi in store and collecting email addresses to remarket to later. Or shipping a product sold on Amazon with an incentive to use exclusively on your online store. Or perhaps it could be letting your customers buy online and pick up in-store. There are plenty of ways to start integrating, but the whole concept revolves around the interactions between multiple parts of your company. Omni-present means you are building a sense of familiarity and making your brand the go-to for your customer.

What’s the big deal with omni-channel retailing?

Customers spend more money

It may seem pretty simple, but if your customers are using your brand across multiple platforms, they’re likely to spend more. A report by IDC Retail Insights found that customers using multiple channels had a 30% higher lifetime value than those on just one channel.

Retention is better; way better

Making your brand omni-channel means that customers are more likely to choose you over others, and keep coming back. We all know that retaining existing customers is much more effective in terms of purchase value and cost-per-customer than finding new ones. Companies that are omni-channel have found that their customers had up to an 89% retention rate, compared to 33% retention of customers in non-omni companies.

Hedge your bets

Sure any one sales channel may be the hottest trend now. Selling on Instagram, for example, has some of the highest rates of customer engagement of any online sales channel. But how long will that last? If your business is used to selling on different kinds of platforms, you’ll be better prepared for changes in the market because you’ll need less of a transition when the current most popular platform inevitably changes.

Challenges with going omni

It’s obviously what any ambitious brand wants - but getting it isn’t a straightforward road and can be a challenge. Companies that have expanded to omni-channel face challenges like the inability to see who’s shopping across channels and a lack of internal organisation.

The biggest challenge currently faced by companies trying to develop their omni-presence is a lack of customer analytics across channels (67% of companies said this was their biggest challenge). Coming up with and using the technology to catch a customer and follow their actions and preferences across mobile, online and in-store is not always easy to implement. Shopify’s Customer Accounts feature and the Facebook Pixel could be a good way to get started, but there’s still a lot of legwork in successfully analysing customer actions and interpreting what will engage them. Shopify has a few other features that help out, included synched customer information and analytics tools.

Tips for going omni-channel

We can all agree that getting omni is pretty significant, but how can you actually get there? Here are a few tips to get you on your way.

Share a mix of information, rather than the same content, across platforms

Instead of releasing the same ad on Facebook and Instagram (a multi-channel approach), try offering a product ad on one, then an ad focusing on what sets your brand apart on the other. Omni-channel is about using information from one touch point to inform the other, so the better you can get at approaching your customer with different kinds of information from different angles and channels, the closer you’re getting. You can use the multiple channels you’ve already set up for marketing to share your product mix, your guarantees, your reviews, and where you can test products out in person.

Get ahold of your nitty-gritty customer-level data

If you’re not starting to track how your customers behave across your channels, now is the time to start. Shopify helps you out by letting you see how your channels are doing in terms of the types of products they sell and how well your customers respond. MailChimp and Klaviyo email clients help you see which parts of your marketing are most effective and to what audiences. The Facebook Pixel helps you track web behaviour and the trajectory from ad to purchase. You can start to map out how your customers spend their money and access your brand. From there, you can develop a strategy to build up interactions across your platforms (using one channel to get customers engaged with another).

Be there in real life

For online-only retailers this can be a bit trickier, but a very effective way to help build your omni-channel retail strategy is to have incentives or information that is distributed online or on mobile and used in-store. If you don’t have your own store, one way you could do this is by partnering with like-minded brands that do, and giving in-store customers a reason to visit your website.

Get inspiration

Take a look at some examples of companies that have made steps toward omni-channel retail and see which ones could be applicable to your company.

Talk to us

Elkfox is a Shopify Expert and can help you make the transition from an online store to an omni-presence. We can help create your web platforms that work seamlessly together, and develop your marketing strategy to boost your customer engagement across platforms using the most up-to-date tools. Get in touch with us if you’re interested in learning more.