Omnichannel Retail Trends for 2023
In 2023, it’s not enough for retailers to just have a presence on different channels; they need to be able to sell across all channels seamlessly. To do that, brands need to ensure their content is consistent, compelling, and connected anywhere their audience finds them. Multichannel vs. omnichannel is the difference between just being on different channels and connecting the experiences across those channels. While these concepts aren’t particularly new, what is new and evolving are the experiences their customers want — and expect — in an omnichannel world.
Let’s dig a little deeper into omnichannel marketing and the omnichannel retail trends brands should keep top of mind in 2023.
What is omnichannel retailing?
Omnichannel retailing refers to the use of various sales channels – both physical and digital storefronts – to create a unified, seamless brand experience for consumers on any platform, at any time. When done effectively, users should be able to move freely from one channel to the next, building a relationship that improves the overall buying experience and encourages brand loyalty.
Most businesses today use multiple platforms and channels for sales. Brands are spread across websites, social media, print catalogs, and brick-and-mortar stores. Since sales on various channels can essentially act independently of one another, if the digital experience isn’t considered holistically, the channels can present a disjointed or inconsistent experience for the consumer.
Successful omnichannel retailers have figured out how to let customers use any of their channels at any point of the process and have a consistent, seamless experience, whether it’s their first interaction or 15th. For example, an effective omnichannel retailer makes it simple for a consumer to see and like something on social media, and then with just a few clicks, immediately be able to order it. If a customer wants an item that isn’t in stock locally, it should be easy to order online and have it shipped to them directly or to a store for pickup (a concept known as buy online pick up in-store, or BOPIS).
As a byproduct of the pandemic, BOPIS, along with all e-commerce shopping activity, has gained significant traction faster than originally predicted. And McKinsey reports that 60-70% of consumers are shopping in an omnichannel way, with social media acting as the new “window shopping.”
Not only are consumers demanding the ability to flow between in-person and online shopping experiences, but optimizing this process is just good for the bottom line. Harvard Business Review notes that “omnichannel is about value addition, not cost reduction.” They continue, “Channel extensions that address gaps in the customer’s journey should be the real purpose of omnichannel selling.”
Retail 2023: Our top five trends
While retailers will continue to have their own unique approach for reaching their audience, it’s the consumers who will inform the initial strategy. Here are the five biggest omnichannel trends we’re seeing this year.
1. A more deliberate approach to data
As lawmakers, brands, and the world respond to the demand for digital privacy, the cookieless future grows increasingly near. This means marketers will need to find ways to be more deliberate with the precious first-party data they are able to collect — and soon. Acquia’s 2022 CX findings report that only a third (35%) of respondents “strongly agree that their organization is “fully prepared for the cookieless future.” So, brands need to begin ramping up their efforts if they hope to be able to give consumers the meaningful experiences they’re looking for.
To acquire the data necessary to provide those experiences, many brands are seeking ways to ensure shared data is consistent across customer touchpoints. This could look like a shopping cart carrying over from mobile to desktop. Or perhaps it’s sending targeted social ads to customers based on what they looked at on your website. It could also include loyalty or membership programs that reward customers based on their purchases. While all of these scenarios do require customers to be logged in, more and more retailers are creating mutually beneficial shopping experiences that increase the value for the customer – and encourage them to share their data.
But getting data is only half the battle. And this is why customer data platforms (CDPs) are among the top technologies marketers are investing in. In fact, in the 2022 Acquia CX report, 52% of marketers state that they have invested in CDP technology in the last 18 months. With data access dwindling — although it’s more important than ever — you can expect marketers to search for ways to maximize the information they are able to collect.
2. Personalized vs. personable shopping experiences
In discussing how marketers use data to establish relationships with their customers, we’d be remiss in not mentioning personalization. Personalization continues to be a hot topic in the marketing world — and rightly so. With waning data and even further diminishing customer attention spans, marketers need to make their messages count. But does “personalized” always mean “personable?”
Just because marketers know a customer’s demographics – like their age, gender, and location – it doesn’t mean they have enough information to make their messaging personable. And fortunately, some retailers are realizing this. From flower shops to department stores, brands are beginning to ask customers what they want to hear about. For example, holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentine’s Day can be particularly triggering for people.
When brands give their customers the chance to opt out of marketing for these holidays, they gain the opportunity to earn that customer’s loyalty for the long term. Marketing to people instead of at people isn’t a new concept, but being able to collect this preference data and do something with it is. Having tools like a CDP and a digital asset management (DAM) system that can work together to deliver the right content based on individual data will mean the difference between being personalized and personable.
3. Leveraging influencers to drive social commerce
Social media isn’t new. Shopping on social media isn’t new. And neither is influencer marketing. But what’s becoming more expected on these channels are relatable influencers with inspiring stories, diverse ethnicities, a wide representation of genders, a spectrum of body shapes, and varying levels of mobility. While this list isn’t exhaustive, ultimately, what shoppers want is people who look like them and care about what they care about — including the sustainability of products and practices. They want to hear from people who share similar experiences when it comes to choosing an outfit or selecting their next travel destination.
Brands certainly have an opportunity to do more in this area, but as marketers, we know the amount of content being created daily is getting out of control! We can’t physically do it all and put ourselves into the shoes of every customer … but influencers can!
Partnering with influencers who encapsulate your brand while supporting a subset of your audience is a great way to build trust with consumers. This user-generated content (UGC) also offers a credible solution for tight marketing budgets since brands will have real people modeling their products instead of trying to design one-size-fits-all photoshoots and marketing campaigns.
By using the data customers are willing to share (possibly even based on the size and types of products they buy), brands can offer suggestions for partner influencers to follow that fit a specific customer segmentation. A new follower means more exposure for the influencer and more opportunities for customers to see your products in action out in the real world.
4. Seamless shopping experiences
Omnichannel retail is ultimately putting the customer at the center of the numerous ways they can interact with your brand. Regardless of time, place, channel, or number of engagements, the aim is that the whole of their brand experience leaves them with a positive, memorable impression. And it’s this feeling that’s important because it’s exactly what compels customers to react, purchase a product, or tell their friends about it. This we know. (And this webinar shares more insights and examples.) But what does that look like in action?
Ordering a product online but need it today? Buy online, pick up in-store has you covered. Bought something online but don’t want to mail it back? Return it in-store. Being able to take action regardless of the initial touchpoint is what customers are looking for. That’s why it’s so important that all of the back-end technologies are working together to support this experience.
According to Acquia’s 2022 CX report, 51% of marketers say their company has adopted a digital experience platform (DXP) in an effort to unify the digital experience across platforms. The coordinated tools in a DXP bring complex strategies to life by offering a centralized hub from which teams can create, manage, deliver, and optimize content-driven experiences across any and all digital channels.
5. Supply chain collaboration
Supply chains have always been a hot topic among retailers. And they’re a pain point that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. With these economic challenges and increasing sustainability efforts, understanding your supply chain will continue to grow in importance.
While supply chain levels are making a post-pandemic comeback, there are still concerns plaguing the industry, including material shortages, challenging logistics, and changing consumer demand. This is a source of frustration for retailers, sure, but it’s a make-or-break moment for consumers. As consumers’ priorities and demands change, retailers will need to be flexible so they can respond quickly to these shifts.
Having a 360º view of your products can help with this flexibility. Knowing what your products are made of, where they originate, and if you can give consumers emission-reducing delivery options can make a big impact with conscientious shoppers, but you have to have easy, consistent access to this information to be able to make use of it. That’s why many content marketers — 72% according to research we commissioned from Forrester — are using product information management (PIM) tools to coordinate product data to support the experiences customers want.
How to embrace omnichannel retail in 2023
While many trends come and go, some just get stronger. We suspect these trends are here to stay throughout the year and will likely evolve in the future. Knowing that the next new thing is just around the corner, brands should remain open, agile, and ready to embrace what comes next. Having a composable DXP will let you put the right technology in place to support and scale throughout this evolution.
To learn more about how a DAM and PIM solution as part of an open DXP can help your team embrace omnichannel retail, request, watch, or click through a demo of our platform, Acquia DAM (Widen), today.
Note: This article was originally published on Widen.com.