That means you have to be in the right place and at the right time to anticipate customers’ needs and meet their expectations.
To do this, you need to use the right technologies to, first, design those experiences and, then, use the data collected to further enhance them. Here’s how it works:
What is omnichannel commerce?
Customers are going to jump from channel to channel whether you like it or not. Rather than lose customers due to no presence or an insufficient presence, you have to design an experience that’s seamless, consistent, and personalized as they move between all your channels.
So, which “channels” should actually be part of your omnichannel experience?
It all depends on what you sell, who your target customer is, and which channels make the most sense for your store.
But they might include digital properties like a:
- Progressive web app
- Mobile app
Device compatibility matters, too, as customers can come from anywhere:
You may also need to involve other channels besides the ones you own, like:
- Third-party marketplaces (like Amazon)
- Social media sites that allow you to sell (like Instagram or Facebook)
- Online review sites
Your marketing touchpoints are also part of this omnichannel system. For instance:
- Email marketing messages
- Sponsored social media posts
- Search engine listings and PPC ads
And, of course, don’t forget about the brick-and-mortar experience. If you have a physical store, it needs to seamlessly connect to all your digital channels, too.
What does the omnichannel experience look like?
There’s no straight-forward pathway that shoppers take. So, the best you can do is anticipate where they’ll encounter your store or brand and what they need from you at that exact moment.
Let’s use the example of Bed Bath & Beyond to see how this might play out with customers and how the retailer has carefully designed each of its touch points:
Touch point 1: Instagram branded content
Bed Bath & Beyond uses Instagram Stories to share games with its followers. Let’s say a loyal customer and Instagram follower decides to play.
They screenshot the game board and then upload it to their Stories, tagging @bedbathandbeyond:
Touch point 2: Instagram company page and store link
One of this person’s followers sees the Story in their feed and thinks, “Oooh! Bed Bath & Beyond! I keep meaning to buy new bed sheets.”
So, they click the tagged @bedbathandbeyond and go to their Instagram profile which undoubtedly includes a quick link to either the website or mobile app:
They click the link and see a list of popular categories, of which Bedding happens to be one of them:
Touch point 3: Ecommerce website
The shopper is transported to the right section of the mobile website and now has a number of options to consider:
Do I have the time to put around on my phone and find the sheets I want?
If so, the mobile site is set up nicely for them to do so.
Plus, some of the work’s already been done for them as the Instagram link to them to the category they’re interested in.
Do I need to buy them now or should I save it for later?
They might decide to do their research and product comparison on the mobile site, but then save the items to the cart or a wishlist to follow up on later.
This will require them to have an account, but if it improves their shopping experience and comes with extra benefits (like rewards and exclusive discounts), they’re likely to use the option.
That’s actually what happens a lot of time as more customers find that the desktop website provides a better shopping experience, according to research from Yes Marketing:
Do I try to find a product that’s in stock locally?
If they’re in a rush, customers can enable the geo-tracking feature and let the website tell them if the bed sheets they’re interested in are currently in stock for pickup.
This would spare them the trouble of having to hunt down exactly what they need in the store and instead go straight to pickup.
Touch point 4: Promotional email
However the customer decides to make their purchase, they’re likely to start receiving promotional emails. And, not only that, emails that are relevant to their purchase and search history.
This essentially starts the cycle all over again, though the path they take to conversion may look different next time.
How to create an omnichannel experience for your customers
The ultimate goal in omnichannel commerce is not to replicate the experience from channel to channel or to simply have a presence everywhere your customers are.
The goal is to enhance the shopping experience as a whole, which means designing the right experiences for each channel.
Because there are so many touch points along the way, the data you gather is going to play a huge part in how you shape the customer’s experience and create something that feels seamless, personal, and effortless. And that means using the right technology to power it all.
There are two keys to unlocking this:
- The cloud.
- An expert who understands and has experience using cloud technology in the context of ecommerce.
Convergine can be that partner for you.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we design omnichannel experiences for retailers and ecommerce companies or want to get started, get in touch.