Omnichannel is a marketing and sales strategy that provides consumers with a unified customer experience regardless of where they are shopping. From product discovery to the final point of purchase, consumers can carry out each part of the shopping journey in whatever channel they so choose – TikTok, Amazon, Google Shopping, eBay, and more. It’s then up to businesses to ensure the information, branding, and customer service is consistent at every touchpoint.
Why is omnichannel marketing important?
In today’s competitive commerce climate, companies need to have an omnichannel strategy. It has become the norm among marketing and sales teams as businesses look to grow their customer base and expand to new markets.
- Consumer expectations are increasing.
Consumer expectations have been rising for quite some time, and they’re not slowing down. People want same-day and free deliveries for online orders, ads that are tailored to their personal interests, and seamless transactions that don’t require more than a couple of clicks. Because of these demands, brands and retailers have been forced to adapt – or else they risk losing out to those that do. They need to be everywhere the customer is, and they need to be there with up-to-date, relevant information.
- New channels are emerging.
From online marketplaces to social commerce, the number of channels to reach consumers is accelerating exceptionally fast. Retailers are launching their own media groups, DTC brands are launching their own marketplaces, social platforms are launching their own shops, and the list goes on and on. Companies have more opportunity than ever before to reach their target audiences in niche locations and in authentic environments.
- The competition is growing.
The gaps between the big, middle, and small commerce players are widening. Hyperscalers have the resources needed to adapt to changing consumer expectations and adopt emerging channels. Companies need an omnichannel strategy to prevent losing customers to competitors.
- Economic pressure is rising.
Supply and demand has shifted to all extremes in the last few years in response to various economic factors. This has created major strains on supply chains, which have caused operating costs to rise for many companies. Businesses can’t just rely on their current customer base to survive during the unexpected downturns. An omnichannel approach is needed to allow room for growth in new markets and verticals.
Example of an omnichannel customer journey
Let’s pretend you’re looking to buy a new pair of running shoes. You don’t have an immediate need to purchase them, so you want to take your time in making the right investment.
You start the journey by doing a simple Google search for “best running shoes”. You skim through a few blogs that people have written analyzing various brands and styles. While you’re on those blogs, you notice an ad for New Balance running shoes.
You meander over to the Google Shopping tab to see what options are listed there. You scroll through a few pages and make note of a few items that you like from Adidas and Reebok before closing the browser for the day.
A week later you’re scrolling on Instagram and come across a pair of Nike shoes that Serena Williams is wearing in a picture she posted. You notice there’s a link in the post that directs you to the product page on the app. You save it for later and continue scrolling.
Now that you have a few ideas of running shoes you like, you decide to head to your local sports retailer to see them in-person and try them on. You fall in love with a pair of Brooks, but they don’t have the right size and they’re a little more expensive than you would have preferred. You leave the store in hopes to find a better price and fit online.
Back online, you visit a few price comparison sites and marketplaces such as Amazon to make sure you’re getting the best value. You’re almost confident with your choice but aren’t ready to pull the trigger just yet.
A few days later, you’re scrolling on Facebook when an ad pops up for the exact pair of Brooks running shoes you’ve been considering purchasing. The ad shows a picture of an athlete modeling the shoes, and you decide you have to have them. You close Facebook and go to Brooks’ online store to purchase them directly from the brand.
After weeks of visiting various channels and coming across personalized ads, the customer journey finally ends. This type of path – one that bounces around from channel to channel – demonstrates omnichannel commerce, and it’s what businesses should expect and prepare for.
How can you provide a strong omnichannel customer experience?
The key to being the brand, retailer, or marketplace that secures the purchase at the end of the customer journey is to provide a compelling presence at every touchpoint. A compelling omnichannel customer experience means product information in ads and listings is high-quality, accurate, consistent, and tailored to each channel.
However, managing product data spread out across hundreds of thousands of channels, whilst adding new channels as they pop up, is extremely difficult for many businesses. Most companies use multiple systems to manage their product data, which creates silos and room for error. It can also be extremely time-consuming to make individual changes per channel manually, slowing down updates to outdated information. This complexity, known as commerce anarchy, can make an omnichannel approach nearly impossible to maintain.
The only way to successfully execute omnichannel commerce is with product-to-consumer (P2C) management, where data is streamlined as it moves throughout the product information value chain. A P2C strategy provides businesses with more visibility, agility, and efficiency in their commerce operations, enabling them to have more control over their omnichannel approach. Solutions within a P2C platform, like product content syndication, allow information to be sourced in any format, cleaned and enriched, and then distributed to all channels. Feed management can also help to continuously monitor and update product data across the omnichannel ecosystem.