Customers can now interact with brands in more ways than ever before, both offline and online. People also tend to use more than one method at the same time and switch between them. This means that the eCommerce industry has to work harder and harder to make sure that customers have a consistent and smooth shopping experience throughout their journey.
Online stores have already said that a great website and a mobile app are key to making a lot of money. Because of this, brands put so much time and money into making the platforms better. For example, upgrading sites to make them run better and lower the number of people who leave right away. But having great products and ways to sell them isn’t enough for the picky customers of the 21st century.
Depending on the size and needs of the business, the next step for online retailers is either omnichannel marketing or multichannel marketing. In this article, we’ll look at both ideas, point out important differences, look at new statistics, and talk about some examples.
What is marketing through many channels?
The multichannel approach means that a customer or potential customer can talk to a merchant through more than one way. There are stores in person and online, social media, emails, phone calls, devices you can wear, geofencing, and more.
Multichannel tries to add as many touchpoints as possible so that it can meet the needs and wants of different types of buyers. For example, young people like to talk to each other on social media, while older people like to use phone calls or emails, which are more common and easy to use.
The thing is, all of these points of contact are pretty much separate and stand on their own. They don’t work together as a whole, and there is no overall plan to follow.
What is “marketing across all channels”?
The omnichannel strategy is all about how a customer and a brand can talk to each other in the same way across all channels. And no matter which way or method a customer uses.
Most of the time, buyers use a few touchpoints and switch between them. For instance, they look online but buy in person. Because of this, omnichannel marketing tries to make shopping easier and more personal. To do this, a brand must find a way to connect its offline and online businesses.
Using cutting-edge technology, a business can keep track of all sales and communications and make all parts of the buying process easier. In other words, all of the buyer’s orders, checkouts, deliveries, returns, and calls to customer service are saved.
The omnichannel marketing strategy is hard to put into place. It needs to be able to identify a user across all devices and channels and combine online and offline information into a single profile for that user. But there are more and more solutions in this area, and eCommerce players all over the world are slowly starting to use them.’
The main differences between omnichannel and multichannel
Let’s look at four main differences between multichannel and omnichannel marketing to help make the comparison clearer.
Multichannel is focused on the channels; the goal is to use as many channels as possible. The most important thing is to get the brand’s message out to a wide audience and explain how to get in touch.
Omnichannel is customer-centered, so the focus moves from the number of channels to the quality of each one. The end goal is to connect all media and make sure that data can move between them. This lets you get a full picture of how each customer acts, what they’ve bought in the past, and what they might need.
Each channel in a multichannel system is kept up separately and on its own. Because of how this method works, the tone of voice can even be different from one channel to the next. Customers usually do the same thing over and over because the people they talk to in each new way don’t know what they did before.
Omnichannel makes sense because channels are tightly connected to each other. So, people who talk to each other in different ways have all the information they need. So, if a customer changes channels, they can pick up the conversation where it left off.
How customers and brands interact
Right now, multichannel engages and encourages. This type is meant to get people to act right away instead of giving them exclusive service and support and building long-term relationships with them.
Omnichannel gets to know its customers and focuses on building relationships that will last. This strategy sets the stage for future relationships that work well. By collecting, saving, and analyzing a customer’s search and purchase history, you can give them a personalized experience both online and off.
Online and offline sales are treated separately by multichannel. Online stores and physical stores are two different things. This means that buyers can’t use both options at once or check the in-store availability or BOPIS/BORIS (buy-online-pickup-in-store/buy-online-return-in-store).
With omnichannel, shopping is a smooth process. Online and offline shops work together in a way that makes shopping easier by adding a lot of hybrid options. In the best case, a customer’s shopping experience is really smooth.
Statistics that should not be ignored
Omnichannel is a worldwide trend, and many surveys and studies show how important it is. For example, NewStore, a company that makes omnichannel solutions, just released the interesting 2019-2020 Omnichannel Leadership Report. This is a review of more than 200 well-known clothing, shoe, and accessory brands based on their omnichannel marketing. Here’s what you should remember:
- 76% of brands don’t have a way for customers to find stores on their mobile apps;
- 26% of apps show information about what’s in stock in stores;
- 43% of stores offer Wi-Fi to the public;
- 79% of shop employees can see what was bought in the store;
- 58% of store employees can see what people have bought online;
- 74% of brands accept digital payments, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay;
- 68% of store employees use a cell phone or tablet;
- 2% of clothing stores let you check out on your own.
And here are a few more numbers about the omnichannel strategy. 71% of people expect brands to keep talking to them through any channel. Naturally, without having to repeat information they’ve already given to another rep.
Some ways that eCommerce uses multichannel
As of today, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that almost every business has used the multichannel strategy. The number of channels available and the level of interaction on each of them varies.
It depends a lot on which touchpoints a retailer thinks are better or worse. That’s why you often see Facebook pages or other social media that haven’t been updated in a while and look like they’ve been left behind. Let’s look at two real examples of multichannel (mostly there are small and mid-sized brands).
The store for this clothing brand is now moving to a new location. So, it’s not clear if it tells people about what’s available in stores. At the moment, Loup only uses Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Vimeo, and email to stay in touch with current and potential customers. The company makes it clear that customers can get help by sending an email.
Luna & Rose
This brand of accessories has both an online store and a store in Bali, Indonesia. You can get in touch with the team by email, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. In the bottom right corner, there’s a small button that lets you text the brand through Messenger. While you wait for a real person to answer, you get a couple of helpful messages from a computer.
How omnichannel works in eCommerce
So far, there haven’t been any clear examples of omnichannel in online shopping. It will take a lot of work to get it just right. Anyway, some brands, mostly medium and large ones, are actively moving in this direction and using strategies and technologies that are worth learning from. Some examples are given below.
American clothing brand Free People tells visitors to its online store how much stock is available. When you choose the item, you can also look for it in a store within 50 miles. Both the mobile app and the store have the same choice.
In addition, you can place your order online and pick it up in the shop later. When your order is ready, the brand will send you an email. The feature is not yet available for all goods, which is a shame.
Athleta, a global clothing company, implemented a suite of omnichannel capabilities into its iOS and Android apps. First, barcode scanning provides instant access to detailed product information as well as a plethora of available sizes. Second, there is the option to make an online purchase and pick up the goods in a physical store. Finally, a Store Locator can help you find the retail outlet that is most convenient for you.
Sales associates frequently resort to electronic gadgetry while on the job. Using a portable point-of-sale terminal, employees can swiftly perform inventory counts and take payments from customers anywhere in the store.
The Nike App is a major turning point in the company’s pursuit of an omnichannel customer experience. With Instant Checkout, you can scan an item in a physical store and complete the purchase without having to stand in line. Apple Pay and PayPal are accepted both in-app and in-store.
If the store has a flagship location, you can use the Speed Shop feature to reserve items in advance of your visit. Your order will be waiting for you in a locker. These features streamline and quicken the buying procedure significantly.
Store associates can now use their iPads and iPhones to conduct product searches and provide virtual try-ons for customers.
Which eCommerce business model best serves your needs?
The multichannel strategy is now an industry standard. It has the potential to provide a pleasant shopping experience for customers if it is set up and maintained properly.
One of its most appealing features is how easy and inexpensive it is to implement. Accordingly, a multichannel strategy may be the best option for eCommerce newcomers, smaller and medium-sized brands, and local brands. Many businesses could benefit from beginning with establishing an ideal multichannel connection with their clientele.
In order to provide a seamless experience for your customers, omnichannel means integrating your online store with any and all other digital channels you employ. It takes a lot of work and expensive but effective technical solutions. The leading marketplaces, social media, support and development teams, analytics, and logistics will all undergo changes as a result of this transformation. In this light, it makes more sense for larger companies to make the transition to omnichannel.
Every shop aspires to be the one their customers return to again and again because of the quality of the merchandise, the value of the price, and the friendliness of the staff. As a result, the key challenge is to ensure that your company’s multi-channel or omnichannel strategy is not only efficient, but also effective, diverse, flexible, and up-to-date.