Merchants are moving towards a more seamless omnichannel experience for their customers. This means that their e-commerce website, mobile app, marketplaces and physical stores all work together to give buyers a consistent brand experience no matter where they shop. Your omnichannel strategy has the potential to make your business much more profitable than it currently is. Here are 5 steps you need to take in order to set up your omnichannel business for success.
#1 Set clear business goals
Before you implement omnichannel, you need to make sure you have your business goals clearly defined. This will help you to stay focused, reduce your risk of failure, and ensure you make good investment decisions along the way. Merchants who have a clear understanding of their goals are much more likely to succeed than those who don’t. Make sure you have a good idea of how much you’re able to invest in your omnichannel strategy, how much your brand is able to grow, and what kind of customer experience you want to offer.
#2 Build a brand experience strategy
The first step to building a consistent brand experience across all channels is to actually sit down and think about how your customers currently interact with your brand. If it’s not online, how can you begin to guide them there? Think about where your customers are currently encountering your brand, and what channels are available to you. Are you currently using all of them? If not, which ones are the most effective and where are you missing out? If you have brick-and-mortar stores, you’ll want to make sure your website is guiding customers to visit there too. On the other hand, if you have an e-commerce website, you’ll want to make sure you’re not limiting your customer experience to the website alone.
#3 Create an omnichannel technology strategy
Your might not be in a position to replace your legacy eCommerce system from scratch, but if you can make some changes to your existing technology, you’ll be well on your way to making your business more seamless. Make sure your e-commerce and inventory management system can connect with your point-of-sale system and your other sales channels, and that your customer relationship management (CRM) system can connect with all other major systems to automate as many processes as possible. You’ll also want to think about how your current systems are impacting your customers and their experience. Is your website slow or full of technical errors? Is your customer service team overwhelmed because your product information is not consistent across all your sales channels? You’ll need to make some big changes to ensure your current systems aren’t causing problems.
#4 Develop an omnichannel digital marketing game plan
The customer journey isn’t limited to the point-of-purchase anymore. Your customers' experience of your brand needs to be consistent across the board--whether they are looking at your website, downloading your mobile app, interacting with your social channels, seeing your advertisements or reading your emails. Everything needs to share the same cohesive message. You also want to make sure that customer service is consistent across all channels. Make sure your website and social media are optimized for mobile, and that your customer service team is trained to respond quickly and effectively across all communication channels.
#5 Integrate omnichannel technology
There is a lot of technology out there that can help you set up an omnichannel strategy. Below is a list of some of the most common ones and how they can help retailers build an omnichannel experience for their customers.
eCommerce platform - This is where you’ll want to start when setting up your online store. There are plenty of eCommerce platforms available, and the one you choose will depend on your unique business needs.
Product Information Management Software (PIM) - PIM Systems are wildly popular among mid and enterprise businesses right now, but really any business looking to streamline and scale can benefit from a PIM.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software - CRM software allows you to manage your customer data and interactions across multiple channels, including your website, social media, and customer service phone lines.
Point-of-sale software - Your POS system is how your customers are going to pay for their purchases in-store, so it’s important to make sure it’s connected to your eCommerce system so you can pull up customer data and show them a consistent experience.
Summing it all up
Merchants that offer an omnichannel experience retain more customers and increase their sales. In order to do this, merchants will first need to set up their omnichannel strategy by defining clear goals. The focus from there is to build a brand experience strategy, create an omnichannel technology strategy, create a digital marketing plan that is consistent across all sales channels and finally integrate omnichannel technology. Following these steps can result in a seamless experience for your customers across all channels.