If you’re keeping up to date on your eCommerce industry blogs, you’ve probably heard the buzz about omnichannel retail. But what is it exactly? Is it just another industry buzzword that catches on for a few months before it disappears forever? What can it do for your business? Simply put, omnichannel retail means selling your products anywhere the consumer is willing to buy them. This include brick and mortar locations, traditional eCommerce, mobile commerce, social commerce and more. You control all of these channels from one centralized hub, using data from all possible sources to inform your business decisions.
Omnichannel retail works today because people are willing to buy products pretty much anywhere. According to a study from Adlucent, 61% of shoppers are willing to shop both online and in store. 42% of shoppers are willing to make purchases on their smartphone, a huge boost over 2014’s 21%. Older shoppers have no problem with making a purchase through a social media network. Some of the biggest retail success stories in recent memory have been embracing the omnichannel trend, including Modcloth, Birchbox and Warby Parker. Formerly online-only retailers, these companies have embraced the omnichannel trend by opening up brick and mortar stores. Being flexible and following their customers has been a big contributor to the success of these companies.
If you aren’t convinced that opting for a more omnichannel approach is right for you, here are a few great ways to test the waters and see how it pans out. If it goes well, you can always continue working to improve that revenue channel to make your business even stronger.
Choose Responsive Design for Omnichannel Retail
Responsive design means that your site will detect what device it is being accessed on and modify itself to fit the screen. This is really something you should have already done, as Google now takes mobile-readiness into account when it is determining your search rank. You get penalized if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, making you harder to find online. Having a responsive eCommerce store will make sure you are ready for mobile shoppers.
If you really want to see omnichannel retail success though, you have to make sure that you have a quality responsive design. Making a site responsive doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be easy to use on the phone. Whether you are doing it yourself or having someone do it for you, make sure you do things like make calls-to-action highly visible and clear in purpose and format text to be easier to read on smartphones and tablets. Make sure images are small enough to quickly load on cellular networks to shrink your bounce rate.
Try a Pop-up Shop
Even though lots of people are willing to make purchases through other channels, in store retail still leads the sales charts. 90% of retail purchases occur in physical retail stores, and 95% of all sales were made to companies that have physical locations. If you’ve only been selling online so far, a pop-up shop is a great way to test the waters. There are even apps like Storefront that make the process of finding a physical location that is right for your business a breeze. They will show you locations that meet your criteria and give you a chance to speak with the owners before you commit to renting the space. Advertise the event, invite your friends and see what happens! You might be surprised at how many people actually show up.
Go Social with Pinterest
eCommerce doesn’t just happen on Amazon these days. It’s everywhere, including your social media networks. If you’re interested in breaking into the world of social commerce, then Pinterest is a great place to start. They have recently added Buyable Pins to Pinterest, allowing users to buy the product they are viewing with a simple finger tap. This is great for businesses whose products fall in line with popular categories on Pinterest like interior design, fashion and food. Take a stunning picture of your product and add an appropriate description to get things started.
If you really want to see success on Pinterest, you should be curating content as well as promoting your own products. Give your followers something more than just a direct advertising feed. If you sell teapots, repost good articles related to tea and pictures that promote the aesthetic and attitude your brand embraces, so long as they aren’t advertising for one of your competitors. This way, your brand will build a dedicated following instead of just a few passing purchases.
Try Other Internet Retailers
Just because you have your own eCommerce store doesn’t mean you should shy away from putting yourself out there on other popular internet retailers. Everyone knows that Amazon is the eCommerce giant. It’s the only place that many people shop online. Amazon allows retailers to list products that as fulfilled by Amazon, meaning they are eligible for Prime shipping and free shipping if the order total is over $35. Amazon will handle the back end and logistics for you and you will be paid every time one of your products is sold.
One of the benefits of selling your products on Amazon is the brand exposure you will receive. Hundreds of thousands of shoppers are doing product research on Amazon. Your products will show up there alongside many others, and will likely show up pretty high on the list if you choose to have your products fulfilled by Amazon. Prime is one of the biggest reasons people use Amazon, and choosing fulfillment by Amazon makes sure that your products show up alongside all of the other Prime-eligible ones.
Omnichannel retail has proven to be a powerful tool for many retailers already. It makes sense — the more people are exposed to your products the more conversions you will make. Omnichannel may feel like it’s just a buzzword sometimes, but it truly is a way to propel your business to the next level of success.
- Joe Chilson
- January 8, 2016