What Omnichannel Retail Really Means for Your Brand

Jan 01, 2017 — Tara Bartlett
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While there's plenty of general wisdom out there to help businesses get started with omnichannel retail, most advice needs to be adapted to fit the industry. An omnichannel strategy isn't a one-size-fits-all solution—the same tactics that work for a car dealership won't necessarily fly for a coffee shop.

Here we break down some of the best practices for omnichannel retail and discuss how each one might need to be tailored for your brand.

Develop a customer-centric strategy

The best omnichannel retail strategies put the customer front and center. It's about creating an optimal shopping experience, from beginning to end. What do your customers expect when they search your website, chat with one of your representatives on social media, or visit your brick-and-mortar store? Meeting those expectations will vary greatly depending on your industry.

Industry differences: pre-purchase needs

Let's continue our example of the car dealership vs. the coffee shop. Someone looking to buy a new minivan will start with some serious Internet research before even stepping into a dealership, and once they visit your location, they'll want to test drive that minivan upfront. However, when that same person buys a coffee, they might be happy to order their double-whip caramel macchiato from their phone without a second thought. All they'll want to see when they enter your shop is a smiling barista holding out a piping hot beverage. Knowing what your customers want will help inform your omnichannel retail approach.

Centralize on a single tech platform

With so many channels running concurrently, keeping everything organized can seem like a mammoth task. A centralized commerce platform can help you maintain control to deliver a consistent brand story and get a clear view of all your cross-channel metrics. The technology solutions that you connect to this central platform will depend entirely on what kind of business you're running. For instance, is digital signage vital to your brand's messaging strategy? Do your customers expect a speedy checkout process?

Industry differences: tech solutions

For a clothing retailer, you might need a mobile POS system for fast transactions and rich customer data profiles that enable personalized suggestions. For an electronics brand, you might opt for an Endless Aisle solution that offers in-depth product specs and plenty of shipping options, instead. Consider your customer's needs, and tailor your tech accordingly.

Optimize your order fulfillment process

After launching a ship-to-store option as part of their omnichannel retail strategy, sports clothing retailer Peak Performance claimed that 20% of all their orders are now fulfilled this way. As a result, the efficiency of their home delivery service improved, while they were better able to keep their stores stocked based on actual regional need.

Industry differences: delivery convenience

An omnichannel retail strategy can help businesses fine-tune the order fulfillment process, but the actual adjustments you make to that process will rely heavily on what's most convenient for your customers. For example, implementing a ship-to-store option would likely not work as well for a retailer selling bathroom sinks, where expert installation is an essential part of the fulfillment process. But it can be highly effective for clothing or groceries. Smooth order fulfillment can use any number of tactics, but your mileage may vary according to your brand.

Omnichannel retail: adapting to customer needs

While omnichannel retail has become synonymous with the seamless shopping experience, it's clear that customer expectations play a large role in shaping exactly what that means. Make sure to adapt these omnichannel retail best practices to fit your unique industry, and keep your customers satisfied.

Mobile payments are growing in popularity across retail stores—do you need this option at your business? Check out our article on whether or not mobile payments can improve the in-store experience.

Feature Photo: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

Topics: Retail Operations

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