Omnichannel has become a major topic among sellers in various industries. Consumers today want a seamless and personalized shopping experience from the moment they walk into your store till they make the final payment.
The omnichannel approach is aimed at improving customer experience while benefiting all stakeholders involved. In other words, omnichannel is a win-win approach that can improve consumer experience while increasing your sales and revenue.
However, while the omnichannel business approach comes with many benefits, it is important to understand the unique challenges that come with omnichannel and how you can avoid them.
So what is Omnichannel? Omnichannel involves fulfilling consumer needs and providing seamless experiences and functionalities across all touchpoints and channels. These touchpoints include social media, emails, mobile apps, online marketplaces, brick-and-mortar stores, etc.
So, no matter how customers choose to interact with a brand, the omnichannel approach seeks to create the same experience across all channels.
As an ecommerce brand, implementing an omnichannel approach involves paying attention to every stage of a customer's journey from the research to the purchase, support, customer service, and more.
The omnichannel approach is customer-centric and takes into account past customer interactions and purchases. With omnichannel, a customer can start shopping via a website and complete the purchase via a mobile app. In other words, customers can pick off where they left off from on any channel no matter the channel.
Omnichannel comes with multiple benefits from improved consumer experience to better inventory management and ultimately increased sales and profits. Here are the key benefits of the omnichannel approach:
Despite the many benefits of the omnichannel approach, business owners and marketing face certain challenges when trying to create omnichannel experiences:
One common challenge with the omnichannel approach is integrating both offline and online data. In other words, a retailer could face challenges integrating information from in-store sales and online sales. It is typically easier to track online data thanks to available technology but offline data can be quite tasking to track.
To solve the challenge of connecting online and offline data, you want to have a 360-degree view of your company’s performance instead of analyzing individual channels. So, if you open up a brick-and-mortar store and experience an increase in sales, it could mean that your store is making a difference regardless of the metrics for the store itself. Also, you can create links for each of your offline channels to help you track the source. You can ask your customers how they got to know about your brand to help you identify how offline channels may be contributing.
This is another common challenge that marketers and business owners face with the omnichannel approach. According to Salesforce, 66% of consumers expect companies to understand their unique needs and 52% want personalized offers.
This means that one kind of content or messaging put up on all your channels may not get you results. Consumers want personalized content from their emails to their social media pages, customer service, and more. A customer who walks into your online store for the first time will expect a different message from one who hasn’t completed a purchase from your store. This can be particularly challenging, as it will require additional resources from your marketing team.
You can avoid this by investing in marketing automation software that uses data to create unique messages that resonate with specific audiences. For example, you can invest in email marketing software and create email campaigns for segmented audiences.
Also, doing this will require getting in-depth consumer data to understand your audiences and create messaging that resonates best with them.
Measuring your performance with the wrong KPI can mean that you identify something to be working that isn’t or vice versa. This can affect decision-making and impact your overall success. Businesses may find it challenging to choose the right KPIs that truly measure the success of the omnichannel approach. For example, KPIs like profits or conversion rates may be too broad to give an accurate measurement of your performance based on omnichannel strategies.
To select the right KPIs, you need to think categorically about the types of metrics that can directly measure your omnichannel efforts. You want to categorize your KPIs into various aspects of your business like inventory, order management, customer satisfaction, etc. So, instead of measuring your performance holistically, you want to do this at various stages of your customer’s journey. Investing in technology to help you track data in real time is another important step.
The omnichannel approach focuses on delivering a seamless experience across all channels. All omnichannel efforts will go down the drain if you have an inefficient order fulfillment process. This can be particularly a challenge if you have a single store and are fulfilling multiple orders. This includes fulfilling online orders for customers while trying to replenish the shelves. Ultimately, this can result in delayed orders and impact customer satisfaction.
You can easily solve this by investing in a warehouse management system (WMS). With this technology, you can prioritize orders, guide your employees on how to receive, pick, and pack orders, and deliver orders on time to meet customer expectations.
Creating a seamless experience across all channels involves keeping an eye on all of them. But one challenge that businesses face is that they pay attention to one while neglecting the others. A lack of collaboration among different teams could also result in channel conflicts. As a result, these channels are not well-integrated and fail at delivering a personalized consumer experience.
To avoid this, it is important to stay up to date with data from each channel and measure their performance respectively. Real-time analytics can be a game changer here. With real-time analytics, you can spot disruptions and deficiencies, make accurate predictions, and identify room for improvement. You can invest in integration tools that can help you monitor all channels.
As we already emphasized, the omnichannel approach involves integrating all marketing channels including websites, social media, in-store touchpoints, and so on. This includes having a unified brand message across all channels and ensuring that all channels are in sync to create a seamless experience. This can be particularly challenging for businesses that do not have the right tools and technology. To have your customer make a purchase in-store and complete it online, you must work with real-time data collected.
To solve this, you want to invest in systems that can help you collect data to seamlessly integrate all your channels and touchpoints. For example, you want to invest in data management systems and inventory management systems to accurately collect data and integrate all your channels.
One of the most important components for omnichannel success is keeping track of stock across all locations including your online and offline store, warehouses, and more. If you are unable to track your stock, you may fall into the trap of offering customers products that are unavailable and lose out on sales. Worse still, you may appear unreliable and lose your customers to your competitors.
One simple and powerful way to avoid this is by investing in an inventory management system. With this system, you can easily track your stock levels across numerous locations and have them updated as you carry out transitions.
In today’s fast-paced world, consumers want their goods delivered to them as quickly as possible. This includes same-day deliveries. Brands like Amazon have set the bar high for ecommerce businesses, offering free two-day shipping and even next-day deliveries. Delayed shipping can affect consumer satisfaction and impact your overall business.
To create a seamless experience with an omnichannel
approach, you need to deliver orders faster than expected. Invest in shipping solutions that offer various shipping options. You also want to invest in order management systems that can easily route orders to cost-effective fulfillment locations.
Another challenge that businesses face with the omnichannel approach is communication. One of the core pillars of omnichannel is having a strong relationship with customers and creating personalized shopping experiences that will ultimately translate into more sales and increased customer retention. It is important to research consumer behavior across various channels and map out their journey. This will help with more personalized communication that builds stronger bonds with customers.
Doing this the old-fashioned way will simply not get you the results you want with omnichannel. Instead, you can invest in customer relationship management systems to centralize all customer service activities. With a CRM, you can automate and customize marketing campaigns, respond to customer complaints and inquiries promptly, and build strong customer relationships.
Many companies need better organizational structures to implement the omnichannel approach. Some companies get stuck on the multichannel approach and are unable to create a holistic system that functions as one. The more new channels to add, the more challenging it can be for businesses to implement. On the other hand, some businesses try to be on channels, making implementation difficult and expensive.
You want to start by delivering a seamless and harmonized experience across channels that are relevant and expand to other channels as you grow. Also, you want to shift your focus from being on many channels to creating positive customer experiences by understanding and segmenting buyers. This will help you deliver the right message to the right audience and through appropriate channels. Ultimately, creating a harmonized experience for your customers is more important than being on all channels.
With the ever-growing needs of customers, an omnichannel approach is one way to stand out from the competition and remain relevant.
When creating your omnichannel strategy, it is critical to consider the challenges you may face and create systems that will help you overcome them.