Omnichannel Commerce: What You Need to Succeed
It’s increasingly difficult to orchestrate a cohesive customer experience across multiple channels, but it’s never been more important — especially with online commerce in the U.S. projected to cross $1.1 trillion in 2023. You’ll need seamless omnichannel commerce experiences to capture your share of burgeoning online sales.
That means you’ll need to prioritize the mobile experience, understand how your customers like to shop, establish a strong brand position, and create a consistent experience across platforms. We’ll cover the basics of those areas and give you some tips for launching your own omnichannel commerce strategy. First, let’s start with a clear definition of what omnichannel commerce is.
What is omnichannel commerce?
Omnichannel commerce refers to the use of various sales channels (physical and digital storefronts) to create a unified, seamless brand experience for consumers on any platform, at any time.
When properly done, omnichannel commerce allows customers to move freely from one channel to the next, with their interactions feeling congruent, and brand consistency intact. That improves their buying experience and forms relationships that build brand loyalty.
Most companies use multiple platforms and channels for sales, but that doesn’t make them omnichannel. Brands can be spread across websites, social media, print catalogs, and physical locations without connecting those experiences. If each of those channels feels disconnected and the interactions don’t build upon or influence each other, that’s just multichannel — not omnichannel.
It’s vital to make the leap to omnichannel and create a coherent journey from interaction to interaction. Otherwise, your experience will seem disjointed and outdated compared to others who are mastering omnichannel marketing for commerce.
Why is omnichannel commerce important?
Customers expect your experiences to match their shopping behaviors. If their expectations and their interactions with your brand don’t line up, you’ll lose customer after customer without ever knowing it. On the flip side, if you can match or exceed their expectations at every step, you’ll increase sales and create brand loyalty.
It’s vital to prioritize the mobile experience in your omnichannel commerce strategy. One of the main reasons for doing so is the fact that global mobile commerce is forecast to surpass $2.2 trillion in 2023, comprising 60% of all online commerce sales worldwide. And, aside from the pure sales growth incentive, modern customer behavior centers around mobile devices.
For example, if you still have retail stores, your customers will use their smartphones to get product information online while they shop. They can check sizes, compare prices from competitors, and read online reviews of the products on your shelves and racks. Do you have an in-store mobile experience that takes this behavior into account and makes sure someone buys from you instead of Amazon or another competitor?
It’s essential to identify these kinds of cross-channel shopping behaviors and design seamless experiences at the intersections. Test these moments and see where you can increase sales or build relationships with customers. Focus your omnichannel commerce strategy on understanding how your customers shop and build from there.
Tips for launching an omnichannel commerce strategy
You’re not going to build a seamless customer journey overnight and it’ll always evolve, so it helps to build a flexible omnichannel commerce strategy. Here are some tips for updating your strategy.
Understand how your customers prefer to shop
Sure, you can guess how customers shop, but it’s worth the investment of time and resources into real research to understand their behavior. Even if you follow all the possible journeys your customers can take on your own, your internal team just can’t see each option from an unbiased customer view. There are a few things you can do, though, to get outside of your perspective and learn how your customers actually engage with your brand.
Omnichannel commerce collects a lot of customer data from different sources. Whether it’s an email open, in-store purchase, abandoned online shopping cart, ad click, etc., all these things are crucial to understanding customer behavior — and ultimately making relevant content experiences. This is where the customer data platform (CDP) comes into play. A CDP takes customer data and unifies it into individual 360° customer profiles. It acts as the main hub for all your customer data, enabling organizations to get real-time customer data insights so you’re better able to personalize marketing campaigns tailored to actual customer behaviors.
Prioritize mobile strategy
To call back the statistic of mobile making up 60% of global online commerce, it’s safe to say that mobile needs to be considered at the center of your shopping experience. All the different kinds of commerce product content you produce should support mobile shopping.
For example, make sure your image and video sizes display well on smartphones and tablets. And if you produce 360º spin photography, make sure it’s optimized for mobile because this content type can increase conversions by as much as 47%.
But, since we’re talking about omnichannel commerce, a healthy focus on mobile shouldn’t eclipse the rest of your organization's channels.
Seamless brand experience across platforms
The foundation of a seamless brand experience starts with content management – whether that content is digital assets, product information, or anything in between. A proper content management system (CMS) that integrates with your product information management (PIM) and digital asset management (DAM) solutions fashions a digital experience launchpad that can help ensure universal brand consistency. When you’re selling one product in three (or more) channels, you want to make sure that all the product information is consistent and has the right type of content.
Bringing your CMS, DAM, and PIM platforms together can help streamline this vital part of your user experience across channels. From discovery and research to purchase and delivery, customers need to feel like they’re interacting with the same brand and get the same product information at every step.
Additionally, with the rise of the headless CMS and hybrid CMS, omnichannel content publishing is more commonplace (and vital) than ever. Both hybrid and headless CMSs allow APIs to connect the CMS to any front-end presentation layer. This way, you’re not limited to a front end like a traditional CMS, but can build or choose to deploy content wherever you need from a single spot — create content once, publish everywhere. That means you can use one CMS to publish content to digital kiosks, mobile apps, websites, VR storefronts, or wherever your commerce experiences need to be.
Find the best omnichannel commerce platform for you
The centralized nature of DAM, PIM, and CDP combined with the headless and hybrid headless CMS’s ability to push content to multiple channels empowers omnichannel commerce by lending consistency to your brand identity, product information, and customer data — and activating it anywhere. Now you just have to understand your customers, prioritize cross-platform experiences, create a strong and memorable brand position, and deliver a seamless experience between all your channels. This doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds when you have a digital experience platform (DXP) bringing together the tools you need to power the ultimate launchpad for omnichannel commerce to thrive.
To learn more about how Acquia DXP could help boost the efficacy of your brand’s online commercial channels (wherever they are), we’d love to show you. Contact us today for a demo!
Note: This article was originally published on Widen.com in 2021 and has been updated to remain current