Benefits of Omnichannel eCommerce & Software Options Overview
The modern high-competitive ecommerce market requires businesses to constantly look for new ways to attract and retain customers. Multichannel and omnichannel approaches are the two most efficient ways to reach both goals: attracting and keeping loyalty levels high. In our new article, we are going to explain the detailed difference between ecommerce omnichannel and ecommerce multichannel approaches, provide popular software used for omnichannel ecommerce examples, and share some insights on how to build omnichannel ecommerce in your business.
What is Omnichannel eCommerce
Omnichannel in ecommerce is always about “everything and everywhere,” as the “omni” part basically means “all.” And omnichannel ecommerce refers to the approach where a business communicates and sells through each and every channel possible, with the main goal of creating a centralized wholesome experience for their customers that can possibly choose any other channel at any moment.
This is a relatively new approach to selling online, with its official history going back to the 2010s, first mentioned by IDC Retail Insights, then supported by Accenture in 2013, and after that, practiced all over the world.
In reality, the multichannel approach close to the omnichannel one was practiced offline long ago: for example, in the 1890s Sears, Roebuck and Co. were the first to use multiple channels to attract new customers that were far away from their real shops: they called, used ads, and even issued their own catalogs. Nevertheless, when retail moved online, multichannel became much easier and quickly turned into an omnichannel approach. In further paragraphs, we will explain this difference in detail.
Is Omnichannel eCommerce an Emerging Trend?
While some trends change, omnichannel ecommerce keeps trending: the researchers say that at least 77% of internet users buy something online monthly, and businesses using several interaction channels get 494% more orders than those using only one channel.
About the channels: according to McKinsey, over 50% of customers use three to five channels each time they want to communicate with businesses. Most often, the switch between interactions is using the website and mobile channels consequently.
Here, we collected the main reasons on why omnichannel ecommerce keeps being important in 2023:
1. Constantly growing customer expectations
Customers want a seamless shopping experience across all channels, efficiently but effortlessly. At least 78% of buyers confirmed they would return to buying from the company again if their social media buying experience was good enough. 64% of buyers would prefer companies to be present both online and offline, and 63% become loyal to the brand if the service is seamless (73% hate explaining their issues again and again in different channels).
2. Increased Use of Mobile Devices
Both Insider Intelligence and Statista confirm that the share of mobile use in ecommerce grows and now builds up to 60% of web traffic. With the increasing use of smartphones, customers prefer shopping online: back in 2020, over 20% visited shopping apps daily, and by now, this number is forecasted to grow. This means that the connection between desktop and mobile channels should become deeper, so the retailers have to develop these channels' connection.
3. Data Collection and Analysis
For online retail, data is everything. Omnichannel eCommerce allows collecting data from multiple channels for further analysis to gain insights into customer behavior and preferences. More data lead to more informed decisions about marketing, inventory management, and customer service.
Omnichannel vs. Multichannel eCommerce
Both multichannel and omnichannel approaches suppose customer engagement through different channels. The difference is in integration between the channels for customer comfort.
For example, selling through websites, social media, marketplaces, and physical stores simultaneously. In a multichannel approach, each channel operates independently, and customers may not have a consistent experience across channels. Moving from online to offline or from email to messenger would lead to a situation when the customer has to begin all they did already from scratch.
Omnichannel ecommerce, in turn, focuses on providing customers with a seamless shopping experience across all channels. For example, the buyer can communicate with the shop via messenger, then start shopping on a company's website, continue in a physical store, and pay with their mobile device. In this case, all the interactions are integrated into a single, cohesive experience.
The strategy doesn’t only benefit customers: from the company side of view, an omnichannel approach allows to collect and analyze data from multiple sources, getting valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences, and buying patterns. With this data, you can optimize marketing campaigns, inventory management, and pricing strategies.
Omnichannel eCommerce Strategy
Omnichannel strategy is good for modern businesses because it aligns with customer expectations and behavior. A seamless omnichannel experience leads businesses to bigger customer satisfaction, loyalty, and sales. Here, we provide actionable tips and best practices for developing a successful omnichannel ecommerce strategy:
1. Understand your customers.
First, you must leverage data analytics: gain insights into customers behavior, preferences, and buying patterns by collecting and analyzing data. Another great way to learn more about your target audience is by conducting customer research, having customer development sessions, and gathering feedback to gain insights into their preferences. Collect and analyze data from all touchpoints: integrate all your existing channels into analytics and compare different results.
2. Segment your audience and build a client journey map.
Once the analytics are done and you know customer preferences, it’s time to segment your audience in accordance with the most often behavior patterns, expectations and needs. Such segmentation will help you in building a client journey map that includes all your existing and future channels and touchpoints. Write down where the customer might contact you and your brand, which channels are used more often, and how to tie them together so it is convenient for your audience.
3. Create a cohesive brand experience.
Ensure that your brand message, design, and tone are consistent across all channels: all of them should bring the same feeling, comfort and information. Personalize content for each segment of customers, and each channel: this will allow clients to choose their favorite method of shopping and communication while staying the same comfortable.
4. Use reliable technologies to integrate different channels.
At this step, you are going to need technology that can connect and synchronize all the sales channels in use. This should be a strong composable ecommerce platform that allows easy integration with all the services and software needed. Such a platform should be able to store customer data safely, provide inventory management tools and seamless connection to your existing management and analytics systems, and get them synced across all channels. It's important to optimize your ecommerce platform for mobile devices, so select the web platform that will be responsive, with quick load times and supporting all devices.
5. Train your staff and ensure cross-channel support.
When moving to omnichannel, you must guarantee a high level of customer service across all channels. Train your employees to not only know everything about your products but also to be able to assist customers via any channel quickly enough.
6. Always measure performance.
Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your business goals. This can include metrics such as conversion rates, average order value, and customer lifetime value. Regularly monitoring these metrics will enable you to identify areas of improvement and make data-driven decisions on your e-commerce omnichannel strategy.
Omnichannel eCommerce Platform
An omnichannel ecommerce platform is an essential part of any business that wants to go omnichannel. These are cloud ecommerce platforms that enable businesses to manage their sales and customer interactions across multiple channels: either online marketplaces, multistores, social media, mobile applications, or brick-and-mortar stores. We have collected some of the features the perfect omnichannel ecommerce platform should have. Consider them when choosing the ecommerce vendor that will help you build an omnichannel strategy:
1. It must integrate with other software easily.
Before going omnichannel with your clients, you must tie all the inner processes together to ensure data is easy to get for every channel manager. The platform should not only easily integrate with marketing and sales channels, but also embrace inventory management systems, CRMs, analytics and more. Virto Commerce is a good example of a platform that can connect to literally everything via API integration. This helps to avoid siloed data and inconsistencies across channels. As a result, you will reduce operational costs and improve decision-making.
2. The platform must be easily customizable.
With a composable ecommerce platform, businesses can personalize their interactions with customers across all channels. The capability to change every module in accordance with customer requirements and expectations allows businesses to enhance the customer experience and increase loyalty.
3. Capabilities for innovation.
The number of channels constantly grows, and businesses have to adapt to it. Once a new channel or tool appears, your omnichannel platform must be able to adapt and integrate it seamlessly without affecting other parts of the system. This means headless and modular solutions that offer atomic design like Virto would guarantee that when the new opportunity comes, you will be able to have a new capability quickly and seamlessly.
4. Multichannel selling.
To sell products across multiple channels, including online marketplaces, social media, mobile applications, and brick-and-mortar stores, you need a system that would allow you creating different types of marketplaces that support multiple currencies and languages. To reach a wider audience and increase sales, the platform should provide an exceptional experience for all of your customers.
5. Aimed at analytics and loyalty.
An omnichannel platform should be able to provide analytics and have capabilities to enhance customer experience and loyalty. With modern solutions like Virto, you can increase engagement by not only opening an ecommerce shop but creating B2B portals and vendor portals, digital catalogs, and loyalty accounts and pages.
Omnichannel eCommerce Software
While offering many popular omnichannel ecommerce solutions, the software market significantly lacks modern flexible systems able to provide fast time-to-value. For different reasons, most of the platforms used today are outdated. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Shopify offers an omnichannel solution for businesses of all sizes. It includes features such as multi-channel selling, real-time inventory management, and personalized marketing. While having a 4.7 out of 5-star rating on Trustpilot, Shopify offers limited customization, has a non-transparent payment system where you have to pay for each transaction, and doesn’t offer automation of marketing.
BigCommerce is another ecommerce platform that includes features of multichannel selling, real-time inventory management, and personalized marketing features. The system has a 4.6 out of 5-star rating on Trustpilot. Though it is tailored for multichannel sales, it has some inconveniences in use: it requires additional payments for important tools not available in cheaper versions and does not have a user-friendly interface.
3. Salesforce Commerce Cloud
Salesforce Commerce Cloud has a 4.4 out of 5-star rating on G2. This is one of the most known ecommerce platforms. However, the platform is not customizable and, as a SaaS solution, is highly dependable on the owner. When you are ready for innovations, Salesforce may take significant time to apply new features, so it is possible that they become outdated before you even try them.
4. Magento Commerce
Magento Commerce is assessed as 4.2 out of 5-star rating on Trustpilot. The developers claim that the platform is fast and modern. However, it has a complex architecture that requires a team of experts with specific knowledge and takes time to deploy. Seeming to be cheap in the beginning, it turns out to be cost-prohibitive in the process of use as it requires many additional paid options.
5. Virto Commerce
Virto, in turn, offers a transparent pricing logic and offers a modern headless solution with the capability to upgrade fast. This is a MACH (microservices, API-based, Cloud-native and headless) solution with the main idea of bringing any business to a higher level of sales in a short period of time, seamlessly and efficiently. Here is what you can get with Virto Commerce:
- Easiness of upgrade and adaptation: the platform connects to everything via API, and its atomic architecture allows changing every module separately without affecting others.
- Multicurrency and multiple languages support for better omnichannel experience for your foreign customers.
- Service-oriented architecture for better loyalty and engagement.
- The open-source approach allows you to build whatever your business needs per any goals and ideas.
To learn more about why Virto fits perfectly for omnichannel ecommerce, read our success stories, dive into technical details, or request a free demo from our expert team.
Wrapping It Up
With the growing need for an omnichannel approach, 2023 is a perfect moment to replatform to the solution that would always allow you to stick to new tools and channels and try new capabilities faster than old-fashioned solutions do.
Choosing a new platform, always think about customization, integration capabilities, analytics and loyalty, the ability to sell via various channels, and most importantly, readiness for innovation and fast time-to-value. Start with the omnichannel approach now by consulting with our team right now.