It’s increasingly difficult to orchestrate a cohesive customer experience across multiple channels and touchpoints. And at the same time, it’s never been more important — customers spent US$861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020 (up 44.0% year over year). You need to build a seamless omnichannel e-commerce experience to capture your share of these growing online sales.
That means you’ll need to prioritize the mobile experience, understand how your customers like to shop, establish a strong brand position, and create a consistent experience across platforms. We’ll cover the basics of those areas and give you some tips for launching your own omnichannel e-commerce strategy. First, let’s start with a clear definition of what omnichannel e-commerce is.
What is omnichannel e-commerce?
Omnichannel e-commerce refers to the use of various sales channels (physical and digital storefronts) to create a unified, seamless brand experience for consumers on any platform, at any time.
When omnichannel e-commerce is done well, customers can move freely from one channel to the next, their interactions will feel congruent, and they’ll know they’re interacting with your brand the whole time. That improves their buying experience and forms relationships that build brand loyalty.
Most companies use multiple platforms and channels for sales, but that doesn’t make them omnichannel. Brands can be spread across websites, social media, print catalogs, and physical locations without connecting those experiences. If each of those channels feels disconnected and the interactions don’t build from or influence each other, that’s just multichannel, not omnichannel.
It’s vital to make the leap to omnichannel and create a coherent journey from interaction to interaction. Otherwise, your experience will seem disjointed and outdated compared to others who are mastering omnichannel marketing for e-commerce.
Why is omnichannel e-commerce important?
Customers expect your experiences to match their shopping behaviors. If their expectations and their interactions with your brand don’t line up, you’ll lose customer after customer without ever knowing it. On the flip side, if you can match their expectations or exceed them at every step, you’ll increase sales and create brand loyalty.
It’s vital to prioritize the mobile experience in your omnichannel e-commerce strategy. One of the main reasons for doing so is that mobile commerce is forecast to have the biggest retail sales growth (12.2%) in 2021, beating in-store shopping and traditional e-commerce. And besides the pure sales growth incentive, today’s customer behavior centers around mobile devices.
For example, if you still have retail stores your customers will use their smartphones to get product information online while they shop. They can check sizes, prices from competitors, and read online reviews of the products on your shelves and racks. Do you have an in-store mobile experience built that takes this behavior into account and makes sure someone buys from you instead of Amazon or another competitor?
It’s essential to identify these kinds of cross-channel shopping behaviors and design seamless experiences at the intersections. Test these moments and see where you can increase sales or build relationships with customers. Focus your omnichannel e-commerce strategy around understanding how your customers shop and build from there.
Tips for launching an omnichannel e-commerce strategy
You’re not going to build a seamless customer journey overnight and it’ll always evolve, so it helps build a flexible omnichannel e-commerce strategy. Here are some tips for focusing on or updating your strategy.
Understand how your customers prefer to shop
Sure, you can guess how customers shop, but it’s worth the investment of time and resources into real research to understand their behavior. Even if you follow all the possible journeys your customers can take on your own, your internal team just can’t see each option from an unbiased customer view. There are a few things you can do though to get outside of your perspective and learn how your customers actually engage with your brand.
One of the simplest ways to learn more about your customers is to create and send a digital survey. Send it in an email telling them that you want to make their experience better. Include an incentive like a gift card to boost response rates. You can also create small focus groups and interact directly with customers while they’re navigating your omnichannel experiences.
Prioritize mobile strategy
Mobile needs to be considered at the center of your shopping experience. If you still rely on physical retail sales, how can you connect the in-person and mobile experiences? One way is to engage customers on their smartphones while they’re in your stores with personalized content and offers.
All the different kinds of e-commerce product content you produce should support mobile shopping. For example, make sure your image and video sizes display well on smartphones and tablets. And if you produce 360º spin photography, make sure it’s optimized for mobile because this content type can increase conversion by as much as 47%.
Create a seamless user experience across platforms
A foundational key to creating a seamless user experience across platforms is integrating your product information management (PIM) and digital asset management (DAM) solutions. When you’re selling one product in three (or more) channels, you want to make sure that all the product information is consistent and has the right type of content.
Bringing your DAM and PIM platforms together can help streamline this vital part of your user experience across platforms. From discovery and research to purchase and delivery, customers need to feel like they’re interacting with the same brand and get the same product information at every step.
Establish a strong brand position
With a strong brand position as a foundation to guide you, it’ll be easier to create an effective omnichannel e-commerce experience for your customers. This is more than just how your logo looks on all channels, it’s the alignment of your brand’s vision, product, and identity.
With that in place, you can start to prioritize your channels and identify parts of the customer journey that make your brand who it is. Maybe it’s essential to sell products on social media or maybe it’s the product descriptions on your website that really communicate who you are. Chances are your brand position will lead to multiple omnichannel priorities.
Find the best omnichannel e-commerce platform for you
Now you just have to understand your customers, prioritize mobile experiences, create a strong and memorable brand position, and deliver a seamless experience between all your channels. Sound daunting? That’s because each of these could be their own strategic initiative. One way to make sure you can accomplish all of these things is to adopt a combined DAM and PIM solution.
With your product information and digital assets aligned, it’ll be easier to design, build, and implement complicated customer journeys. More than 700 of the world’s most respected brands use the Widen Collective® to store, manage, and publish their online product content and information.