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Omnichannel Strategy: Widening the Limitations of Retail

This year, retailers are not dealing with downsides like low consumer confidence due to the lack of money in the pockets of shoppers – like in the previous years – but instead, this year’s challenge is to maximize the ROI by maximizing the conversion rates for the upcoming online traffic bumps. Here, the biggest challenge ahead is for the retailers who have not successfully implemented a proper omnichannel strategy yet.

Because, all studies suggest that with the rapid adoption of all sorts of retail channels thanks to the diffusion of technology into retail, now consumers have too many options/channels to shop from. This causes a massive potential distraction for your shoppers, and unless handled carefully, it may cause low conversion rates for you. It’s well-proven that consumers’ shopping-related attention span is getting lower and lower due to the rise of these many options.

Let’s strip the meaning of the word omnichannel, and imagine it as follows: It’s basically being ready at any touchpoint where we have interested shoppers with high levels of inclination towards purchasing stuff. With this point of view, we do not really need to think – or, let’s say, should not think – it as broken down into domains like social shopping, mobile shopping, etc., but instead, taking the business as a central hub, and managing all the inventory and sales flow coming in from the physical shops, websites, many marketplaces. To learn more, take a look at some of the best omnichannel examples.

Honestly, the word omnichannel has been more of a marketing buzzword in the retail sphere lately, however in such cases like holiday shopping and many others, it can really yield a meaningful return when handled holistically.

This idea of fragmentation at the consumer end is also supported by various research. For example, an Adlucent study found that almost 50% of shoppers prioritize a product search on Google or Bing, and this majority is followed by searchers on Amazon, and the rest is browsers mingling around physical stores.

Still, the fragmentation of browsing might be so striking, but in the end, around 90% of retail sales are still happening down at the shop-floor just in-store, and 95% of the total retail sales fall into the stores with a brick-and-mortar presence. Another striking fact is that mobile commerce is a pathway to physical commerce conversion given that 75% of consumers use mobile devices within the physical store. Here, using beacons to generate in-store push notifications give the chance to retailers, to regain and drive to the super short attention span of shoppers.

These figures might be the driving force behind Amazon and many other only-online retailers’ move towards brick-and-mortar. Retailers following this strategy include likes of ModCloth, Warby Parker, Birchbox and more. To prove that, Neil Blumenthal, the CEO of Warby Parker stated in a recent article that his company is actually a medium agnostic company. – Let’s say, omnichannel at its best. 🙂

As omnichannel pushes retailers to cover all touch-points, it’s fair to expect a similar move from once offline-only retailers. For example, luxury retail space is seeing more and more brands starting their e-commerce presence, like Chanel or Dior. Therefore, we see that companies decided to strengthen their discoverability for the sake of losing a bit of their exclusivity.

So, we can clearly see that retailers should try to find the perfect mix and give up with X-only plays. And here are few methods to implement a strategy which can cover the various touch-points in the customer journey:

Pop-up shops as a test

Here, you do not really need that much of a starting budget for renting out a particular place or paying dollars for a special in-store design, etc. Check out Storefront, sort of, Airbnb for shop-floor. You can just rent out space to retail your products temporarily. With very small budgets, actually, you can A/B test your physical retail performance.

Laser focus on your search engine performance

SEO, right? Yes, but not SEO as a one-time thing. SEO is constantly upgrading, thanks to Google’s efforts in making things searched smarted for its users. People are eager to browse the web for the product ideas in their minds, and you should be doing your very best to get the most out of this interest. This goes beyond tagging your product pages properly, but also creating compelling content around your products, overall brand positioning. With all these, you will earn a continuously improving ranking in all search engines.

There is also the tech side of search engine performance, of which, mobile-friendliness carries a huge part. SSL protection available around your whole site would also help your rankings in search engines.

Start loving marketplaces, unless you already do

This may sound a little controversial considering that many retailers have actually started up in those marketplaces, and then for the sake of ownership and more flexibility at the strategic level, moved on towards an independent operation out of those marketplaces. That sounds totally fair.

Still, let’s admit that Amazon product listings still have the highest trust and credibility for all shoppers, and in regards to the search volumes mentioned above, Amazon is a channel, which is too big to miss. Simply, unless you use Amazon for your product listings, you are neglecting the retail search volume of nearly 30%.

Well, this is a strategy of all its own. And there’s really no gold key here. So, it depends on your branding or similar things to make the decision of which SKUs to be displayed on marketplaces. The most common strategy is to pick a set of SKUs and putting them on marketplaces and pricing them accordingly.

Amazon has the harshest price competition, so in order to perform well there, you should be able to compete on price, so you should be picking your high margined SKUs for there.

Omnichannel is all about being where your customers are. The lines of retail are getting more and more blurred, and detection of the discoverability touch-points is a major issue for all sizes of retailers.

To put it simply, unless you don’t appear where your customers are looking for products and you can not touch them when they are ready to buy, most probably a smarter competitor will be winning the game here.

Be quick, be the champion of omnichannel!


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