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Omnichannel Marketing
7 min

A 2021 Guide to Omnichannel Retailing [with Examples]

Nowadays, your consumer uses an average of almost six touchpoints. Nearly 50% regularly use more than four.

The fact is, 9 out of 10 consumers want omnichannel service, according to Paul Jarman, CEO, NICE inContact. That is exactly how omnichannel strategies can help businesses meet their goals, especially in the retail category.

There are clear advantages to creating a seamless customer experience, be it shopping from a mobile device, a laptop, or in a brick-and-mortar store.

Further, a survey by Harvard Business Review showed that omnichannel customers spend more money than single-channel customers. Customers who used 4+ channels spent an average of 9% more in the store compared to those who used just one single channel.

For retailers to benefit from this behavior, they should be aware of a few emerging omnichannel factors, and existing omnichannel examples.

Here’s a guide that will reveal:

  • New Trends in Omnichannel Experience
  • Successful Retail Case Studies
  • Some Action Points for 2021

For retailers, this year is clearly one of many challenges. Using omnichannel strategies wisely can help to overcome many of them.

New Trends in Omnichannel Experience

1. Online Meets Offline

Wherever possible, Internet brands are establishing a brick-and-mortar presence. Amazon, for example, has set up many physical stores, from booksellers to grocery pickup locations to cashier-less convenience stores.

Analysts believe that such stores are testbeds for new ideas and places where Amazon can collect precious consumer shopping data. This can be leveraged for its main online stores and growing advertising business. Here are some more insightful examples of such integration.

2. Apps Get More Powerful

Nowadays, nearly 90% of mobile internet time is spent in apps. Retailers are therefore not only optimizing their websites for mobile but enhancing apps to be more responsive, too.

It’s significant that 62 percent of mobile users made an online purchase through their mobile device in the last six months. Also, 80 percent used a smartphone inside a brick-and-mortar store to check product reviews, compare product prices or locate alternative store locations.

Amazon Fresh store marketing app

Many app features have sprung up to leverage this and mesh with the overall omnichannel strategy. These include barcode scanners, multiple payment methods, and rich notifications.

3. Responsive Customer Service

Many retailers have rejigged their customer service operations according to omnichannel best practices. This involves a combination of human agents and AI-powered, automated services. These give consumers a choice of interactions: phone, email, live chat, SMS, and social media, for example.

Real-time support and personalization are other important aspects. After all, 84 percent of consumers say customer service is a key factor in purchase decisions. A whopping 95 percent say that it is important for brand loyalty.

In this revealing interview, Jamie Gagliardi, marketing head at JimmyBrings, an alcohol delivery service in Australia, unveils how he factors in customer needs when planning omnichannel growth strategies.

4. Social Media Drives Growth

For some years now, retailers have known that social media can give their brand a powerful boost. It’s important to use it to grow the customer base, get reviews, spread news, and establish loyalty.

New features will take this a step further in 2021. The goal of Facebook Shops, for example, is “to make shopping seamless and empower anyone from a small business owner to a global brand to use our apps to connect with customers.”

Studies also show that 70% of shoppers turn to Instagram for product discovery. 87% say that influencers have inspired them to make a purchase. This explains the rise of Instagram Shopping, a set of features that let people shop from photos and videos.

Successful Retail Case Studies

In fact, a new report on trends changing omnichannel retailing in 2021 states that over 60% of brands have already started using some kind of social e-commerce functionality.

Savvy retailers have successfully been using omnichannel strategies to drive growth, revenue, and loyalty. From small businesses to large corporations, from online to offline, they have seen the value of a frictionless experience.

Here are some recent case studies to be inspired by:

1. Landmark’s Dynamic Engagement Strategy

The Landmark Group is one of the largest retail and hospitality brands in the Middle East, Africa, and India. They conduct a ‘White Wednesday’, a big online sale period that allows them to increase new subscribers, customers, and revenue.

In November 2019, the sale was a huge success. This was because they utilized a mix of channel touchpoints based on customer preferences. Consumers were warmed up with presale week promotions, which encouraged existing app users to opt for push notifications, email, and SMS reminders.

During the sale, they enticed customers on their app with attractive offers on wishlisted items by SMS coupons. They also made use of a re-engagement tactic by sending email and push notifications with incentives such as discounts and surveys. This retail marketing omnichannel push helped the brand to improve cross-sell and upsell sales. You can find out more about the case and its results here.

2. Oasis’s Impressive Integration

Oasis is an established fashion retail brand in the UK. They operate online and have 80 physical stores in Britain and Ireland, along with 96 other locations around the world.

Retailers can learn from how Oasis ties this all together for an all-round omnichannel experience.  For a start, their online and offline touchpoints are integrated with each other for a unified experience. Their Instagram social media feed showcases products that are linked to their profile.

In their physical stores, the sales associates use iPads for on-the-spot style advice and product information, based on the customer’s online activity, preferences, and saved items. Payments, too, can be made on iPads. Further, their website lays out a range of delivery options as well as easy returns.

3. Value City Furniture Brings Omnichannel Home

Value City Furniture is a reputed American furniture retail band from 1948. They used omnichannel digital marketing to solve a common issue faced by customers who want to shop online for furniture, but also want to take it for a “test drive” before committing.

They came up with an “Easy Pass” platform. This lets customers build a shopping list online and then visit a nearby brick-and-mortar location. At the store, a sales clerk can access the list and show the customer the furniture in real life.

Value City Furniture's omnichannel digital marketing

While at the store, people can also start a wish list as well as find additional product information. This ease of shopping meant that the furniture company was able to increase overall shopping engagement by 55%.  Click here for more details of how they planned and implemented this strategy.

4. Old Navy’s Connected Retail Experience

Old Navy, a fashion retailer that was a part of the Gap, focuses on its customers throughout. They create connections between their website, their stores, and their customers’ homes at every step.

For example, the website has complete product information for easy online ordering and delivery. It also contains information about which stores near you stock the products the customer has chosen. This lets you pay online and then pick up in-store.

Once in the store itself, if you find that what you need isn’t in stock, the staff can use handheld devices to show you an extended range. This can then be delivered later to your house.

In 2020, Old Navy’s holiday campaign was centered more on digital and social media channels than in years past. This enabled them to attract consumers during the times when they were unable to leave home and kept engagement levels high.

Some Action Points for 2021

According to new studies by Rabin Research in 2021, nearly half of retail CFOs in the US said they were pursuing digital transformation in the course of the year. Much of that had been going on for most of last year. 51% of respondents increased their e-commerce investments in the past six months. 64% said they plan to invest in the next six months.

channels of increased investment in past 6 months vs next 6 months, according to US Retail CFOs, Sept 2020

We’ve already mentioned some key trends of social media, online-offline integration, and customer service. Here are a few more areas that retail marketers should consider in 2021:

  • Digital Payments: The transaction value for the Global Digital Payments Market was USD 5.44 trillion in 2020, and it is projected to be worth USD 11.29 trillion by 2026, according to a report. Payments can be made easier and faster for end-users and spread across online and offline channels. Industries that adapt to digital payments faster are more likely to recover from the damage caused by the pandemic.
U.S digital payment market size, by solution, 2016-2028
  • Multichannel Attribution: This relates to tracking marketing channels that lead to conversions or sales and giving each one the appropriate weightage. It’s a necessity at a time when multiple channels are needed by marketers. It provides insights into the success of each touchpoint and helps to determine which sources are most successful and need a higher share of budgets.
  • Greater Mobile Optimization: According to estimates by Statista, mobile e-commerce could rake in USD 3.5 trillion and then make up almost three quarters (72.9 percent) of e-commerce sales in 2021. Retailers should look at how consumers’ mobile experience can be made more integral to their omnichannel efforts. Seamless, hyper-personalized experiences led by automation as well as technology-driven efforts such as AR are good places to start.

A 2020 report from CustomerThink, a global online community of business leaders, indicates that those with strong omnichannel retailing retain over 89% of their customers versus those with a weak omnichannel strategy. Clearly, retail marketers cannot afford to ignore omnichannel strategies anymore.

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