Mastering Omnichannel Commerce: Your Ultimate Guide to Seamless Customer Experiences and Business Growth

Mastering Omnichannel Commerce: Ultimate Guide to Seamless Customer Experiences

Unlock the full potential of your retail business with our comprehensive guide to omnichannel commerce. Learn how to create seamless customer experiences, integrate online and offline channels, and drive business growth through strategic omnichannel practices.

Personalization and customer delight could be easier if in-store agents had access and could add to shopper history

Omnichannel commerce is non-negotiable for retail brands today, with most organized retail businesses already allowing customers to access their products across multiple touchpoints. If you’re looking to offer customers more online and offline channels for access, or looking to make your customer experience more seamless across channels, you want to adopt a strategic approach to how you develop and manage your channels.  

That’s exactly what omnichannel commerce is. This guide breaks down everything you need to know about omnichannel retail to help you create an omnichannel e-commerce strategy that bridges all touchpoints, ultimately driving customer satisfaction and loyalty.

In the past, retail businesses primarily focused on building a presence across multiple platforms—omnichannel commerce builds further upon that foundation by adding integration and seamlessness to the equation. 

To begin with, let’s discover how today’s omnichannel commerce is a step up from the multi-channel commerce practices of the past. 

How Do You Build Your Omnichannel Strategy? The 3 Pillars of Omnichannel Commerce

Omnichannel commerce is a combination of practicing omnichannel marketing and enabling omnichannel shopping by applying an omnichannel outlook to how you operate. 

But first, you need to define your goals. Many businesses jump to invest in smart mirrors or AR-trial, which are buzzwords in the omnichannel commerce universe, but without proper thought, these investments might result in ROI-related regrets later. 

Let’s put it this way: “Achieve an omnichannel presence” isn’t your end goal; it is a means to achieve other tangible, measurable business goals that align with your overall business strategy.

For example, if your primary goal is to increase customer loyalty, you might set a target to improve your customer retention rate by a certain percentage within a specific timeframe using omnichannel commerce. Alternatively, If you aim to boost sales, you could set a goal to achieve a particular revenue target or increase your average order value.

Once you define your goals, you’re ready to start developing the three pillars of omnichannel commerce: 

Pillar 1: Omnichannel Marketing and Sales 

  1. 🗺️ Customer Journey Mapping: You need to understand how customers interact with your brand across various touchpoints or map their journey, so that you can optimize ads, sales conversations, and marketing collateral accordingly. 
  2. 🎯 Targeted Campaigns: Leverage customer data to create personalized marketing messages and omnichannel sales strategies that resonate with individual preferences. One way to get started with omnichannel e-commerce marketing is by using Swym apps to help you set up personalized communications linked to items that your customers show interest in. 

Omnichannel sales and marketing become easy when you have Swym that seamlessly integrates with popular marketing and sales tools and platforms 

  1. 🏆 Brand Consistency: Ensure your brand voice, visuals, and messaging remain cohesive across all channels. A good example of this is TopShop’s London Fashion Week campaign, where the brand combined billboard ads with Twitter to display real-time tweets alongside relevant items from their catalog. The billboards were located near stores, connecting the online conversation to in-store shopping. 

Pillar 2: Omnichannel Operations 

Many brands already ensure that customers can access the same variety of products in-store and online—in other words, they already have an omnichannel approach to ops to some extent. If you’re looking to set up an omnichannel strategy around operations, there are two critical steps involved: 

  1. Revisit Buyer Personas and Preferred Channels 

Tap into your buyer personas and figure out how various personas complete their journey through your marketing funnel. You want to identify what channels they use at various stages of their buyer’s journey. This feeds directly into the next step. 

  1. Enable A Seamless Journey

Does buyer persona A, for instance, become aware of your product online, then visit a store as part of their consideration stage, and then compare prices online to close the loop on their consideration, finally converting in-store? Your omnichannel e-commerce strategy should feed off this data. 

For example, the product discovered online should be available for consideration in-store, and the prices obtained online should also be available in-store.  

You can also bridge funnel phases with this data. For buyer persona A, which we described above, you would know that once they discover a product online, they would probably want to visit a store to check out your product in person. As a consequence, you might want to send them a notification about the wide variety of your products available at an aggregator nearby, or the new products (including the one they recently clicked on, online) available at your own store in their neighborhood. 

Pillar 3: Omnichannel Customer Experience 

You want customers to enjoy access and customization no matter where they are browsing for products, and irrespective of their preferred modes of delivery.  If you have achieved omnichannel operations, you will have easily achieved a seamless shopping experience. A new trend, however, is related to ensuring the omnichannel CX bridges browsing and delivery seamlessly across channels. Here are some key moves to help you catch up with this trend. 

Omnichannel Fulfillment: 

  1. 🛒 Click-and-Collect: According to Forrester, click-and-collect sales (where customers look at a product online and buy it in-store) are expected to surpass $200 billion by 2028. Offering the ability to buy online and pickup in-store (BOPIS) caters to this preference.
  2. 📦 Ship-from-Store: You can also utilize your brick-and-mortar locations as fulfillment centers for online orders. This can also be an excellent way to optimize your retail store investments in today’s retail landscape where a good portion of your sales take place online, but you still need to maintain a physical retail presence. 
  3. 🚗 Curbside Pickup: Offer convenient pickup options for customers who might prefer this option because they prefer instant pick-up. Some customers might prefer this option to reduce their carbon footprint, because it affords privacy, or even because it allows them flexibility amidst an unpredictable schedule. These locations can be on an easily accessed street (or curb, as the name suggests) near your retail store or warehouse. 
  1. The store-at-home: With the ability to connect in real-time, customers have the opportunity to pose inquiries, test products virtually, and receive advice from specialists, virtual shopping mirrors the in-store retail experience. A Forrester study commissioned by Shopify found that 52% of brands planned to offer virtual shopping by enabling online customers to connect with representatives via chat, social, text, or video.  

Countless brands, including market leaders like Amazon, Target, and Walmart have already enabled omnichannel shopping, especially BOPIS. Feel free to modify the approach to suit your product and customer expectations. For example, Indian furniture and home decor e-retailer Pepperfry pairs its online store with in-person ‘Studio Pepperfry’ locations where customers can see products firsthand before ordering online. 10-15% of the company’s sales now come from these studios. 

Omnichannel Shopping 

Forrester recommends that brands integrate online shopping into the in-store experience as part of an omnichannel approach. This makes sense because consumers increasingly research products online before buying, which means they have probably already interacted with your online store before visiting your brick-and-mortar outlet. 

Add to this the fact that today’s consumers have grown habituated to a personalized shopping experience—they are used to merchants recognizing prior interactions with the brand. That’s why, any perceived disconnect in this understanding can negatively impact your ability to deliver an exceptional experience. On the other hand, when your in-store team can understand a shopper’s needs based on their online behavior and provide a tailored in-store experience, it greatly enhances customer engagement.

Sounds impossible? It’s actually pretty straightforward when you use the Swym + Shopify POS integration. This integration allows you to link your customers’ online activity on your website with your point-of-sale system. 

The Swym + Shopify POS integration offers the following features:

  • Access customers’ browsing and purchase history within your store
  • View customers’ wishlists directly from your Shopify POS system
  • Add specific items to customers’ wishlists
  • Transfer items from a customer’s shopping cart to their wishlist if they choose not to purchase immediately, allowing them to buy later
  • Enroll customers in back-in-stock alerts for out-of-stock items

Additionally, this integration supports all other functionalities of the Swym app on your site, including seamless integration with your other marketing tools and personalized communication with shoppers based on their online and in-store interactions with your store. 

Why Is Omnichannel Commerce So Hard to Execute?

Challenge 1: 🤝  Maintaining Consistent Customer Service Across Channels

Without synchronized customer service, miscommunications can arise, frustrating customers and ruining their experience. Ensuring consistent support across all channels—from email and social media to in-person interactions—is vital to creating experiences that keep customers coming back. It also ensures that customers do not have to repeat themselves, reducing frustration levels (especially when there’s a grievance involved) to a great extent.

The solution? Platforms like Gladly bring all customer touchpoints into one place, giving your service representatives a 360-degree view of each customer’s journey. And the Swym + Shopify POS integration that we discussed earlier conveys customer preferences to your in-store agents. With this context at their fingertips, your team can provide seamlessly personalized support.

Swym + Shopify POS in action

Challenge 2: 📊 Tracking Real-Time Inventory 

In the fast-paced world of omnichannel commerce, accurate inventory tracking is the difference between a seamless shopping experience and a customer taking their business elsewhere. When a product shows as available online but is actually out of stock in the warehouse, you’re not just risking a lost sale—you’re risking your reputation.

You need real-time inventory visibility across all channels to prevent stock-outs, overstocking, and disappointed customers. But with inventory constantly moving between online and offline channels, keeping track of stock levels can feel impossible.

Invest in an integrated inventory management system that provides a single source of truth for your stock levels. By centralizing your inventory data and automating updates across channels, you can ensure that what customers see online matches what’s available in-store—no more missed sales or frustrated shoppers. Check out Shopify’s guide on choosing inventory management tools. 

Challenge 3:📦 Managing Fulfillment Complexity 

From processing online orders for in-store pickup to handling returns across channels, the complexity of omnichannel fulfillment can quickly overwhelm even the most organized teams. And when your fulfillment process breaks down, your customers and your bottom line suffer. You need systems that can help manage these processes effectively—look for fulfillment management tools like EZ Fulfill that can automate the process and minimize errors. 

Challenge 4: 🔍Attributing Conversions to the Right Channels 

Customers interact with your brand across an array of touchpoints, from social media ads to in-store experiences. This makes it difficult to determine which channels are driving the most revenue (and should therefore invite focus and investment). 

Without accurate attribution data, you’re flying blind when optimizing your marketing efforts and allocating your budget effectively. You need to know which channels are delivering the best ROI, so you can double down on what’s working and cut what’s not

To crack the attribution code, you need a comprehensive tracking system that can follow customers across all touchpoints, both online and offline. Additionally, tools like UTM-encoded URLs, QR codes, and trackable phone numbers, can enable a clearer picture of how customers are finding and engaging with your brand.  

This helpful Shopify guide on sales and marketing attribution might help with this step. 

Data Integration — The Foundation Of Omnichannel Commerce 

The backbone of a successful omnichannel commerce strategy is data integration. By connecting data across various touchpoints, both online and offline, you can: 

  • Eliminate hassles like customers having to input data on multiple occasions
  • Enhance the customer experience by ensuring that preferences expressed on one channel, reflect on other channels
  • Improve your chances of conversion by personalizing product recommendations and providing consistent messaging across channel

The challenges detailed above might make unified commerce seem like an impossible feat. But automation and integrations can make omnichannel retail a breeze. For example, you would have a tool that gathers customer behavior and preference data when they visit your website. This data should automatically inform what they see (of your product line) when they are browsing on social media or Googling similar products. It should also impact what a sales representative says and showcases if the same customer walks into a store. 

Real-world case studies have demonstrated the tangible benefits of data integration. Sephora, for instance, found that customers visiting its website within 24 hours of coming to a store were 3x more likely to make a purchase and had 13% higher order values.

Does Omnichannel Change For a Marketplace Business? How? 

Omnichannel strategies can be adapted for marketplace businesses. Key considerations include ensuring consistent branding and messaging across the marketplace and seller channels, providing integrated customer support, and leveraging data to personalize the marketplace experience for buyers. 

Marketplaces need to ensure that the omnichannel experience extends beyond their own platform and encompasses the individual seller channels as well. This requires close collaboration with sellers to maintain brand consistency and seamless customer support.

Ready to begin with omnichannel commerce?

In this guide, we’ve given you the answers to popular questions about stepping up from multi-channel commerce to omnichannel commerce. As you embark on your upgrade, here is some food for thought: 

  1. What are my goals from omnichannel commerce?
  2. Which channels do I want to prioritize and why? How do they fit into my overall goals? 
  3. What tools do I need, and how do they help me to prioritize? 

People Also Ask

Q: What does omnichannel mean in e-commerce?

In e-commerce, omnichannel refers to a strategic approach that focuses on providing a seamless and integrated customer experience across multiple channels and touchpoints. It involves the integration of online and offline channels, such as websites, mobile apps, brick-and-mortar stores, social media platforms, and more, to create a cohesive and consistent shopping journey.

Q: What is an example of omnichannel?

A good example of omnichannel is when a customer starts browsing products on a retailer’s website, adds items to their cart, and then decides to visit a physical store to try them on or make the final purchase. The retailer’s omnichannel strategy ensures that the customer’s cart items are accessible both online and in-store, allowing for a smooth transition between channels without losing any shopping progress.

Q: What is omnichannel commerce, and why is it increasingly important?

In simpler terms, omnichannel commerce is a strategy used to provide a unified shopping experience regardless of the medium to meet the evolving needs and expectations of modern shoppers. By implementing an omnichannel strategy, retailers can deliver a personalized and convenient shopping experience, build customer loyalty, and drive sales.

Q: What does omnichannel mean in retail?

In retail, omnichannel refers to the integration of different sales channels, such as physical stores, online platforms, mobile apps, social media, and more, to create a unified and cohesive shopping experience for customers.

Q: What are the three elements of omnichannel retailing?

The three key elements of omnichannel retailing are:

  1. Seamless Integration: All channels must be interconnected, enabling customers to move between them effortlessly during their shopping journey.
  2. Consistent Branding: The brand experience, including visual identity, messaging, and service level, must remain cohesive across all touchpoints.
  3. Centralized Data Management: Customer data, inventory, and order information should be unified across channels for a single view of the customer and streamlined operations.

Share:

More Posts

We're stoked to see your interest in using Wishlist Plus! You'll receive an email from our team shortly to take this ahead.
We're stoked to see your interest in using Wishlist Plus! You'll receive an email from our team shortly to take this ahead.

Book a call with us! if you'd like to dive into a conversation!

Gorgias Integration - Early Access

Gift Registry- Early Access

Save for Later - Early Access

Let's discuss your needs!

Let's discuss your needs!

Let's discuss your needs!