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What Is Omnichannel Commerce?

Wilson Lau

Sr. SEO Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

The world of marketing and retail has shifted in the past several years. The changing marketing landscape is a response to the continuing changes in consumer behavior. Businesses would operate in one or two marketing channels and treat them as separate entities in the past. However, today's consumer wants more. 

The growth of the internet has changed how consumers go about searching and obtaining goods and services. Consumers are more informed and engaged with brands. They do their research, compare, review and shop at different stores to get what they want, when they want. 

Businesses have changed their focus from not only optimizing a marketing channel but making their marketing approach consumer-centric. Companies need to stay on top of trends and change as technology and behavior change. This is where omnichannel commerce comes in.

Omnichannel commerce has changed the way businesses engage with consumers and offers a holistic marketing approach compared to previous strategies. 

In this article, we'll take a look at what omnichannel commerce is, the difference between omnichannel and multichannel marketing, and the benefits of omnichannel commerce.

What Is Omnichannel Commerce?

Omnichannel commerce (or omnichannel retail) is a type of marketing strategy that integrates various marketing channels into a single, unified consumer experience. Whether shopping happens online, on the phone, or at a physical store, all channels are combined into one holistic approach. 

In a recent study, the State of Commerce Experience 2021 concluded that 58% of business-to-business (B2B) and 44% of business-to-customer buyers preferred to research a product before making a physical purchase. Moreover, consumers will research products online while inside a physical store.

The consumer has much more power within the sales funnel. Omnichannel commerce or ecommerce has to focus on the entire consumer journey, not only each separate channel. 

Let's take an example to illustrate the concept — say a consumer wishes to purchase a new pair of shoes. They decide to shop on a trusted brand's ecommerce website to place an order. They follow the order delivery via the brand's mobile app. When the shoes arrive and are not to their liking, they head to the physical brand store to return the shoes. Once the shoes are returned, the consumer receives a credit to their account confirmed by an email. The brand can continue to market to the consumer via social media. The consumer can leave reviews about their experiences, and the brand can respond. 

The Difference Between Omnichannel and Multichannel Commerce

Without multiple marketing changes, omnichannel commerce does not exist. The development of various channels has evolved with technology and now provides an immersive buyer experience that has become the norm.

However, omnichannel commerce and multichannel marketing can be confused for the same thing. Let's look at the differences the various strategies:

  • Single channel commerce: A single channel is selling and marketing a product or service through one channel. This strategy has been standard practice for decades. It still works well for dedicated physical stores or eCommerce sites like eBay. The downside is if you want to reach more consumers and a better consumer journey, you need multiple channels. 

  • Multichannel commerce: Here, you sell and market products among different channels at the same time. The general practice is to offer both in-store and online. Online can be spread among email newsletters, websites, mobile apps, and so forth. Businesses can engage consumers through social media and specialist forums. 

  • Omnichannel commerce: An omnichannel strategy takes marketing channels and connects them all in a unified, consumer-focused experience. There is not only a focus on connecting channels but mixing different physical and digital tools. These tools include interactive kiosks and smart shelf technology. Businesses can further leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to create personalized recommendations for consumers. Also, these systems improve the consumer journey with on-demand support chats. 

What Are the Benefits of Omnichannel Commerce?

So, what are the benefits to businesses adopting omnichannel commerce?

Increased consumer traffic and sales

The main goal of adopting omnichannel commerce is to maximize profits and increase the consumer base. A recent study by the Harvard Business Review shows that omnichannel shoppers spend 4% more in a store and 10% more online. Furthermore, consumers who use four or more marketing channels spend 9% more money in stores than those who use one channel. 

Consumers who use more than one channel not only spend more but maintain loyalty over the long term. The more a consumer interacts with a brand or store, the more likely they are to make purchases and referrals to family and friends. 

Improved data collecting and analysis

Different marketing channels will collect different data metrics on consumer behavior. The problem is that these separate channels cannot share and combine their data effectively. How do you leverage from both the Instagram page and your mobile store app?

Connecting all the different data points proves a better picture of your target consumer. An omnichannel strategy can lead to better insights and improve content creation. 

A holistic consumer experience

Consumers demand a personalized and streamlined experience in their shopping. With touchpoints increasing, your marketing strategy needs to adopt new trends and innovations.

Businesses need to stay connected to their target consumer at each stage of the consumer journey. A recent Forrester research study suggests that the number of digitally influenced offline sales will rise to 58% in 2023. 

Improved order fulfillment 

Having an omnichannel approach to your business operations allows you to bridge different sales channels. Through an omnichannel approach, consumers can return or receive products through various channels like in the store and online. 

These operations improve convenience for consumers while saving on shipping costs, warehousing costs, and returns admin costs. 

Unify Your Different Marketing Channels

In the rapidly changing world of retail, businesses need to adapt to evolving technologies and consumer trends. Consumers demand a streamlined shopping experience in omnichannel commerce and fulfill that need. Omnichannel commerce can unify different marketing channels to improve the consumer experience and boost earnings for your business. 

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