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Why You Need an Omnichannel Customer Experience

Why you need an omnichannel customer experience

Customers nowadays are seeking a holistic experience across channels when it comes to retail. Despite the increased popularity of online shopping, many still prefer an in-store experience. For example, one study shows that 70% of UK consumers over the age of 45 still prefer human interaction over self-service when shopping. On the other hand, the same study also estimated that 51% of consumers spend more money online than they would in-store.

Add to this the fact that not all products are suited for online-only sales. Take prescription eyeglasses for example. According to the 2020 Internet Influence Report from The Vision Council, only 14.1% of 2020 eyewear buyers directly purchased their glasses online. However, about 30% still used the internet to compare prices, find the type or style of eyeglasses they wanted to buy or find the ECP or retailer they bought from in person later.

Furthermore, the consumer behavior shift toward online purchasing has made an omnichannel strategy more important than ever. In research conducted by BigCommerce and Retail Dive, 46% of retail executives said they plan to increase their investment in multichannel and omnichannel retailing moving forward, compared to their plans before COVID-19. As Andrew Lipsman wrote in a May 2020 report on Frictionless Commerce: “The timeless truths of retail are that consumers will always want better prices, selection and convenience. With the internet having already driven major progress on the first two customer needs, attention is now turning to convenience.”

These statistics and buying scenarios show that efficient customer journeys and omnichannel user experience are fundamental to maximizing conversions, increasing repeat purchases, meeting shoppers’ needs, and ensuring business growth. Let’s face it—the convergence of channels is now a necessary reality for e-commerce businesses. How can they achieve it? Read on to find out!

What is an omnichannel customer experience?

The omnichannel customer experience (CX) is an approach to sales that ensures a seamless and personalized customer journey across online and offline channels.

Adopting an omnichannel CX approach empowers retailers to:

  • Integrate data collection for in-store and online customer interactions for deeper levels of personalization;
  • Sell online and offline for increased revenue;
  • Offer omnichannel inventory visibility and multiple fulfillment and shipping options for added customer convenience;
  • Meet customers where they are and provide personalized messaging and recommendations for increased conversions.

Is an omnichannel customer experience strategy the best approach though? It helps to know the difference between alternative options.

What is the difference between single-channel, multichannel, and omnichannel retail?

Single-channel retail services are provided from only one distribution channel, whether it is an e-commerce platform or a traditional brick-and-mortar store. Despite being cheaper and easier to launch, it is difficult to maintain a competitive edge with a single marketing channel.

Multichannel retail enables customers to use several channels to make purchases—from brick-and-mortar stores to online platforms. The goal of this strategy is to provide multiple purchasing channels for consumers with different preferences.

Omnichannel does virtually the same, yet both digital and physical customer experiences are fully integrated. This enables customers to seamlessly switch to the shopping mode they prefer without having to change vendors.

Difference between single-channel, multichannel, and omnichannel retail

Despite being somewhat similar, the last two approaches have some key differences—the omnichannel approach is unified, enabling channels to work collectively, while the multichannel still separates the digital experience from the traditional brick-and-mortar experience.

Further, omnichannel digital commerce is far more customer-focused. It enables brands to deliver a positive customer experience at every touchpoint. Some go as far as using AR and VR to superimpose photos of clothes onto a customer’s avatar, while others open virtual showrooms where consumers can enjoy 3D virtual sampling of products. Such practices enable customers to make purchases in the comfort of their own homes, while brands can serve multiple users simultaneously—a win-win situation!

Some brands are getting creative with the concept of omnichannel by opening showrooms where customers can see and feel the products they want in a brick-and-mortar environment, and then purchase them online — often at a lower price. This “showrooming” trend has grown in popularity in recent years as it provides customers with a seamless blend of offline and online convenience.

The reverse experience, “webrooming”, is just as popular, and allows customers to browse for products online and then pick them up in a local store. This way, customers save on shipping costs and delivery waiting times.

Both these phenomena took off due to changing consumer behaviors and demands during the pandemic. With this, the rise of omnichannel customer experience solutions like click-and-collect options, and beacon technology that enables easy retailer-client communication have also become more commonplace in the digital commerce landscape.

Showrooming and webrooming in particular, help businesses save on brick-and-mortar rental costs since massive amounts of space to display every single product is no longer necessary. At the same time, customers do not have to overcome choice paralysis—another win-win!

Webrooming vs Showrooming infographic

What are the benefits of omnichannel commerce?

In today’s dynamic business landscape, an effective omnichannel strategy not only provides a deep understanding of customer preferences but also transforms the buying process into a seamless and engaging journey. By leveraging various digital channels, businesses can comprehensively address these aspects, resulting in enriched customer experiences and sustainable business growth. In this section, we delve into the myriad advantages that embracing an omnichannel approach brings to modern commerce.

Higher customer satisfaction and brand loyalty

Consumers want to interact with a brand in ways that are most convenient for them. Omnichannel customer experience gives them the option to do so. In fact, UC today reports that 9 out of 10 buyers prefer an omnichannel shopping experience. 

By adopting an omnichannel approach, businesses can easily gain a competitive advantage in the market. A recent Harvard Business Review survey of 46,000 shoppers found that only 7% shopped exclusively online, 20% were in-store-only shoppers, and 73% of customers moved across multiple channels. Furthermore, on average, omnichannel buyers spend 4% more time in stores and more than 10% online and are more likely to recommend the store to their friends and family and buy there again—proving the significance and importance of omnichannel journeys.

Increased sales

The same study shows that customers who stick to brands that offer omnichannel experiences tend to spend more. More importantly, the more channels the vendor provides, the higher the sales. A study conducted by Google, Ipsos MediaCT, and Sterling Brands concludes that 75% of customers are more likely to visit a store if they find information about the retailer online, and thus, are more likely to purchase goods there too.

Furthermore, Omnisend’s Marketing Automation Statistics Report shows that businesses that adopt an omnichannel strategy with more than three channels achieve a whopping 287% higher purchase rate. This goes to show that customers really appreciate personalized convenience and that developing a unified, seamless experience definitely pays off.

Improved data collection

Besides having the option to shop across multiple channels, consumers want personalized shopping experiences too. Omnichannel businesses have the opportunity to use customer intelligence and personalization components to analyze data obtained through shopping cards, cookies, referral programs, POS systems, and any other customer touchpoints across channels. 

By capturing and analyzing Big Data from multiple channels, brands are all the more equipped to address customer needs, thus creating unique and personalized experiences that generate more sales. 80% of customers who receive personalized offers are more likely to convert and engage in return purchases. Contrariwise, if they fail to find something that fits their needs, they’re bound to look elsewhere.

Increased visibility

By offering your customers real-time inventory visibility across channels, you are making your products and product information more accessible and easier to purchase. Couple this with multiple fulfillment options, and you’ll see your conversions soar.

Heightened brand recognition

Establishing a consistent presence across diverse online and offline channels often leads to remarkable increase in brand awareness. Through strategically aligned merchandising, advertising, and direct marketing efforts, from social media interactions to in-store experiences and website visits, omnichannel commerce constructs a unified narrative that remains ingrained in the minds of consumers. 

How to build an efficient omnichannel strategy for your business

Building a robust omnichannel CX is far from an easy task, but definitely not an impossible one. If you take an incremental, composable commerce approach, you don’t have to disrupt your entire business ecosystem to start seeing results. This method uses modern technologies and approaches like MACH (Microservices, API, Cloud, Headless) to leverage each specific channel for its unique benefits to create an omnichannel digital experience platform with best-in-class capabilities.

But before you decide on the technology you’ll use to curate strong omnichannel customer experiences, you need to have a well-informed strategy in place. Here we list some of the things you should consider before you start building out a fully-fledged omnichannel customer experience platform.

Understand what your customers want

Using your existing analytics or customer intelligence solution, analyze your customers’ behavior to find out how they discover new products, and what items they are more likely to buy online/in-store. Focus on the following for a comprehensive overview of what’s working, what’s not, and why:

  • The type of device most used for shopping online, e.g. laptop, tablet, desktop PC, smart TV, or mobile device;
  • The most visited website pages;
  • The most often searched keywords;
  • Best-selling products or services;
  • Conversion rates from different channels;
  • When people are making the most purchases;
  • Which channels are most often used to interact with your business;
  • Customer churn rates and the potential reasons why;
  • Product discovery and recommendations performance, i.e. how many customers are converting through search and recommendations.

This, and any other data you can gather, will ultimately help you focus on the channels that generate the most sales and help you decide which commerce technologies to integrate or optimize to ensure a smooth customer experience and a high ROI.

Expand your business across different digital channels

Act based on the data you’ve obtained and focus on the most popular digital channels. Focusing on mobile marketing is no longer an option, but rather a necessity, as nearly 45% of all consumers use their smartphones to shop these days. It’s crucial to make sure that your brand’s website UI is mobile-friendly and adapted to all types of smartphones. You should also build user-friendly mobile apps, and focus on social media targeting. All these channels should operate cohesively to meet the demands of all user groups.

Consider a headless CMS platform for content marketing

A headless CMS platform is a backend content management system in which the content repository is disconnected from the frontend presentation layer. It has numerous advantages as compared to traditional CMS—from cloud hosting and delivery to microservices architecture. Headless CMS platforms enable easy distribution of marketing collateral across different devices via APIs and help your customers access content via their preferred channels. Further, you can speed up campaign implementation as there is no need to manually change any content. Make one change that will be intrinsically applied on multiple platforms. Headless CMS platforms are cloud-based, which means more flexibility in terms of content creation, cost-efficiency, and faster time to market in terms of implementation.

Headless CMS vs Traditional CMS

Integrate your digital and in-store channels

While digital commerce and retail teams might be completely different in what they do, customers expect a unified experience whether they’re shopping online or in-store. Cross-projects and staff training can help teams engage in experience exchange and generate ideas to improve customer engagement. Further to this, a single source of truth for customer data empowers employees across departments to personalize experiences across channels, improving customer retention.

Also, consider implementing these omnichannel features:

  • Enable buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) options for the customers who would rather collect their purchases themselves instead of waiting for delivery and paying extra for it.
  • Offer Wi-Fi in your brick-and-mortar stores so that customers can instantly access product reviews and check out other available options online.
  • Implement omnichannel loyalty programs for personalized rewards and offers online and in-store.
  • Use a modern inventory management system for real-time, up-to-date inventory information across channels.
  • Think outside of the box and consider AR for in-store virtual experiences, where customers can “try on” clothing or other items via an interactive mirror.
  • Use in-store virtual shopping assistants to recommend products, answer questions about products, direct customers to where certain products are, advise on product availability and so on.
  • Optimize your product discovery journey with vector search and visual search for more accurate and personalized search results.

The options are endless—the more effort you make to fuse your brand’s retail channels, the more sales your business will generate.

The future of omnichannel customer experience

The future of omnichannel digital commerce is promising: we are now witnessing the adoption of VR showrooms and universes where customers can emerge into a fully unique experience without leaving the comfort of their homes. E-commerce businesses are even venturing into the Metaverse with 3D digital products, while offline interactions are becoming more focused on customer needs and building stronger, more holistic brand perceptions.

Ready to deliver exceptional omnichannel customer experiences? Grid Dynamics already worked with 7 of the 25 largest retailers in the US to enter the new era of digital commerce and thrive through it, and we’re ready to help you too. Reach out to us to start the omnichannel transformation of your business!

Omnichannel customer experience: FAQs

  • How do you deliver an omnichannel customer experience?

Creating an omnichannel customer experience involves seamlessly integrating various touchpoints to provide a consistent and valuable asset to customers, ensuring that their journey remains smooth and uninterrupted regardless of the channels they engage with.

  • What are the challenges of omnichannel customer experience? 

The challenges of omnichannel experiences encompass maintaining consistent messaging, ensuring accurate data integration, and striking a balance between technology and the human touch to prevent impersonal interactions and sustain customer loyalty.

  • How to improve omnichannel customer experience? 

There are proven techniques to enhance omnichannel customer experience:

  • Integrate customer support systems to provide seamless assistance across platforms;
  • Utilize loyalty programs to enable customers to earn points and rewards across channels encouraging engagement and repeat purchases;
  • Leverage business intelligence through data analytics to get insights into customer pain points and preferences, allowing for more targeted interactions;
  • Seek customer feedback and adapt your strategies based on their input, fostering continuous improvement.

What defines a good omnichannel customer experience?

A good omnichannel customer experience is marked by consistent and personalized interactions. It’s about recognizing customers across channels, remembering their preferences, and anticipating their needs. A strong focus on customer support, quick issue resolution, and providing a seamless transition between online and offline experiences are key aspects.

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