If someone told you in the year 2000 that you would soon be able to buy pretty much anything on the planet from a phone the size of a deck of cards, you probably would have looked at them like they were crazy. But today, in 2020, physically going into a store is no longer your only option — and when unexpected events like pandemics hit, it might not even be an option at all. In fact, retail e-commerce sales worldwide were a whopping $3.53 trillion in 2019, and revenues are projected to grow to $6.54 trillion by 2022.
But even with that staggering statistic, e-commerce still accounted for only 11.8% of total retail sales in the first quarter of 2020. What this tells us is that people are buying in multiple ways. They compare prices and products, check out social media, and read reviews before buying. If you’re not available on multiple platforms, your limited presence will greatly affect your bottom line. And, as many retailers have learned this year, if you’re not yet available online at all, now is the time to make the leap to e-commerce.
As you launch your e-commerce store, keep in mind these two words: omnichannel retail.
What Is Omnichannel Retail?
Simply put, omnichannel retail is a fully-integrated approach that unites the user experience from brick-and-mortar to mobile browsing to social media and everything in between. This doesn’t mean you’re required to be everywhere, but that you’re where your customers are, and it pays off for you in the end.
In fact, omnichannel customers spend an average of 4% more on every in-store shopping occasion and 10% more online than single-channel customers. Not only that, but a survey found that businesses with omnichannel strategies have a 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rate compared to businesses that only offer services on a single touchpoint.
The key is to offer multiple experiences for the customer, which helps to not only increase sales, but also to improve their overall experience with your product and brand. Here’s how to create an omnichannel strategy for your e-commerce store.
Research Where Your Customers Are Shopping
The first step in launching an omnichannel plan for your e-commerce store is to figure out where your customers are spending their time. If you know they’re not on Twitter, but that they’re extremely active on Instagram, that’s where you should allocate your marketing budget. Instead of exhausting yourself trying to be on every single channel, analyze the data and create your plan from there.
When it comes to analyzing that data, a good place to start is Google Analytics, specifically the Acquisition reports. There you can see which channels are driving people to your site and helping them discover your business. If you have a Shopify store and are a Shopify Plus user, the Attribution Connector gives you an in-depth customer view, along with advertising analytics, paths to conversion, and summaries of channel performance.
Once you’ve figured out where to focus your efforts, it’s time to capitalize on those touchpoints.
Enable Shopping on Every Touchpoint
Whereas 15 years ago the average consumer used an average of two touchpoints when buying a product, today that number has increased to an average of almost six touchpoints. The key to a successful omnichannel strategy is making sure every channel gives the customer an opportunity to buy.
For example, if a customer sees a product in your mobile app, they need to be able to add that product to their cart and check out. If they see a suggested product on Facebook, they need to be able to buy through the mobile app.
Customers want to make the transaction as quickly and simply as possible, and if it’s difficult or takes too many steps, they’re going to go somewhere else where a click can get the job done.
Integrating a simple buying system on each channel means customers can get what they want, when they want it — creating an overall better experience.
Connect Online and Offline
To build off that point, if you’re selling brick-and-mortar and online in any way, it’s important to sync all of your channels to create a cohesive and consistent experience. Don’t focus on just one platform, but rather on integrating in-person visits with online traffic.
Why is this so important? Because customers want to know that you have the item they saw in your online store in the actual brick-and-mortar store before they come in. They want to throw that item in their online cart and be able to pick it up at the register. And also because a customer who buys from a business in-store and online has a 30% higher lifetime value.
If you have a Shopify store, the Google Smart Shopping integration helps you be seen in more places and get in front of customers who use Google to search for new products. Once you set up your plan, Google will choose the best time and place to show the right products to the right shoppers, allowing customers to have it delivered or pick up in-store. This hits multiple touchpoints throughout the process and helps to provide a seamless experience.
No matter which e-commerce platform you use, you can create a cohesive online-to-in-person transition by focusing on consistent procedures, processes, and brand identity so that shoppers know what to expect — and get the service that they deserve.
The Bottom Line
Launching an e-commerce store is a big and slightly intimidating step, but providing new outlets and new ways to connect with customers is the key to long-term growth and success. Twenty years ago, it would have sounded insane, but today it’s become a necessity for retail survival. Shoppers are hitting multiple touchpoints before making a purchase, and knowing where they spend their time will help you reach them so they spend their money — and spend it with you.