What is omnichannel retailing?
According to the top answers about the topic on Quora, omni-channel is the next evolution of multi-channel. Kind of like how social media is the next evolution of social networking.
Omni-channel is about having multiple channels that are consistent, coherent and user-centric.
A study of 46,000 shoppers shared on Harvard Business Review proves that omnichannel works.
Retail sales through digital channels has been increasing (by a whopping 23% in 2015). Consumers are increasingly doing their research before making purchases, and this research is increasingly happening online.
What does this mean for small business owners and marketers?
1. Even if you’re only selling your products and services offline, you have to think about having digital channels.
“The early days of ecommerce were about getting stuff online. Now it’s building brands. We’re seeing things like pop-up stores to capture specific markets, or concept flagship stores merging into the offline. There’s a move from plain ecommerce to brand building.” – Michiel Kotting, Accel VC
People are going to look for your business on Google, Facebook and Instagram before heading down to your retail venue.
2. It’s better to get the basics right across the major channels, rather than spend tonnes of resources over-optimizing a single channel.
If somebody offers to build an elaborate website for your little shop for thousands of dollars, run away!
3. Don’t overextend yourself though – it does make sense to still have one primary channel.
You want to go to where your customers are.
If you’re selling food, you’re going to do well on Facebook and Instagram. If you’re selling fashion, Instagram and Pinterest will likely be your mainstays. If you’re a roving food truck, Twitter can come in handy.
Talk to your customers!
4. Focus on providing support, not frills.
As we mentioned in an earlier post, customers aren’t looking to be wow’d by flash and large volumes of text – they just want the essential information they’ll need to make a decision about whether or not to patronize your business.
So focus on getting reviews from your customers. Share your menu, your opening hours, and all of the details that your customers want.
“As consumers become increasingly channel agnostic, retailers need to ensure content seamlessly follows consumers on their cross-channel journey – providing the right information and incentives to maximize the purchase decision-making process at each and every point.” – Crsten Thoma, Hybris COO
Of course, at the end of the day, your business fundamentals are what matters most.
You don’t need an elaborate Instagram strategy, but it makes sense to have a hashtag so that your customers can tag themselves enjoying your product.
You don’t need to post on Facebook everyday. but it makes sense to post your opening hours and some basic information on a Facebook page. (And login to that page on your phone so that you can reply to any customers who might message you!)