Omnichannel retail: 4 best practices for navigating the new normal
To stay relevant, traditional brick-and-mortar businesses are rethinking their business models. By enhancing and meshing both digital and physical shopping experiences, your business will be prepared for whatever comes next.
It’s no surprise that there’s been a surge in online sales over the past two years as the pandemic pushed ecommerce shopping to new heights. During 2021, consumers made more than $870 billion worth of online purchases from U.S. merchants, representing a 14.2% increase over 2020 sales. Those who adopted a digital-first, omnichannel strategy during this boom were at the best advantage. Research from the McKinsey Institute found that those retailers were able to pivot during the pandemic more easily than those who prioritized physical stores and face-to-face selling.
As the marketplace shifts and changes, retailers should prepare themselves if they need to pivot again. Combining physical and online channels in new ways can help you reimagine your approach and create a distinctive, engaging customer experience. Here are four best practices to follow so business is prepared for whatever change comes next.
1. Put digital first
Consumer confidence is bringing shoppers back to brick-and-mortar locations, but a strong online presence is still key. In fact, you may even want to consider it the cornerstone of your business. 87% of consumers turn to the web first to research products before buying, with just 46% still preferring to make their purchase in a physical location.
A good digital experience is an optimized one; your best-selling products should be easy to find, and branding and marketing messages should be consistent. Your digital footprint should expand beyond your website too, specifically to the social media platforms your customers frequent.
2. Find new ways to engage online
One of the strengths of a physical location is the ability to interact with customers face to face. However, you can also bring the in-store experience to your website by using enhanced web technology, such as 3D models on product pages, or by offering virtual services.
For example, some retailers conduct one-on-one personal shopping consultations via video conferencing platforms. Others are using livestreaming to engage with customers and increase revenue and loyalty by sharing experiential content. By bringing the experience of your store and brand online, you can increase engagement and strengthen consumer loyalty.
3. Rethink your physical location
While ecommerce has become crucial since the beginning of the pandemic, brick-and-mortar stores won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. The boundaries between online and offline shopping are starting to blur, and physical locations play a different role, creating a hybrid sales model.
Many of today’s shoppers make purchase decisions before they even reach your location. Your store is now a piece of the customer journey puzzle, not an endpoint. Use it to educate consumers on your product and reinforce your branding, and support ecommerce sales through services such as buy-online-pickup-in-store.
4. Personalize the in-store experience
One of the strengths of the digital platforms is the use of technology to personalize the customer’s visit. Replicate this in your store by arming sales associates with access to customers’ online data, such as purchase history, to customize the offline experience. With a modern POS, customer information like email addresses or past orders is captured and accessed easily through the POS system. Plus, with a cloud-based POS, all your staff will have instant access to the same information, no matter where they are.
Additionally, if a customer is shopping in your store and an item they want is out of stock, provide then with alternative ordering methods like shipping it to their home or having it held at the store for pickup later.
The next normal
Omnichannel retail is more than having multiple touchpoints—it involves integrating a cohesive strategy for customer service, inventory, and sales across all channels to create a seamless experience. As we move towards a post-pandemic marketplace, customer expectations will continue to shift. By adopting an omnichannel strategy, you can focus on creating an experience that meets consumers where they are, responds to their needs, and moves forward together into the next normal.
Explore how modern POS services can help you achieve your omnichannel commerce goals.