Blog header image: Omnichannel Retail Trends for 2023 article



Omnichannel Retail Trends for 2024

March 11, 2024 10 minute read
How is omnichannel retail impacting shopping experiences, and what can your business do to pivot? Here are five omnichannel retail trends to know.
Blog header image: Omnichannel Retail Trends for 2023 article

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In 2024, 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 2024.

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).

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 2024: 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 is here now, with Google restricting the use of third-party cookies for 1% of its users back on January 4, 2024, with the goal of 100% deprecation of third-party cookies by Q3 2024. 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. 

Fortunately, Acquia’s 2023 Customer Experience Trends Report found the percentage of marketers who “strongly agree” that their organization is prepared for the cookieless future has risen from 35% in both 2021 and 2022 to 45% in 2023. Still, brands need to continue ramping up their efforts if they hope 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, our report also found that 30% of marketers name CDPs as the technology that has the biggest positive impact on customer experience. 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.

Screenshot of Oliver Bonas marketing email.

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 terms of diversity and inclusion in marketing. And one way they can meet growing consumer demands for diverse representation is by tapping influencers who can connect with consumers through a shared identity, experience, or viewpoint.

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 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. 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. And what’s more, consumers are expecting experiences to be consistent across all of these touchpoints. 

Our CX report found that 79% of consumers say they expect brands to have a consistent message and appearance across all the digital platforms they interact with them on.That’s why it’s so important that all of the back-end technologies are working together to support this experience, which is where a digital experience platform (DXP) comes in. 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. AI-driven retail

We’d be remiss if we were to talk about 2024 trends and not mention artificial intelligence (AI). Our CX report found great enthusiasm among marketers for the use of AI to change how digital experiences are crafted. We suspect this to continue as more and more organizations see the returns from using AI tools. The use cases for AI in omnichannel retail abound. AI chatbots can answer customer questions as they shop online. Generative AI can create content more efficiently for use in marketing campaigns. Machine learning models in a CDP can help marketers predict customer behaviors and better personalize content to incentivize a purchase or other desired action. AI-generated metadata and image recognition help retailers find the right assets to use in a social media campaign.

While retailers and marketers might be hot on AI, they need to be aware that consumers aren’t as sure of it. And with AI regulations and legislations still up in the air, organizations must proactively establish their own policies for responsible AI use to ensure they’re maintaining trust with their customers. 

How to embrace omnichannel retail in 2024

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 an open DXP can help your team embrace omnichannel retail, request, watch, or click through a demo of Acquia DXP today.


This article was originally published in 2021 and has been updated to remain current.

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