Recently, I taught a lesson giving an overview of the term omnichannel retail, which I wanted to share with listeners of the Savvy Shopkeeper Retail Podcast as well.
As independent retail store owners, we hear new marketing strategies and terms tossed around all the time. Figuring out which strategy is most effective and achievable for our store can be difficult, though, especially when we’re learning and implementing new ideas frequently.
One strategy that is loved by customers—but only a priority for 22% of retailers—is omnichannel retail. Let’s dive into what that is, why it can be a great strategy for independent retailers, and how you can start developing your omnichannel retail strategy.
Defining Omnichannel Retail: What is it?
Omnichannel retail is a fully-integrated approach to commerce that provides shoppers a unified, cohesive experience across all of your stores (both online and in-person).
As Square puts it, “Omnichannel marketing…keeps customers moving around within the brand ecosystem, with each channel working in harmony to nurture more sales and engagement.”
This graphic from Paldesk shows the difference between single, multi, and omnichannel strategies. A single channel model is what retail businesses have depended on for years: a customer walks into the physical store and buys something.
Multi channel marketing means that a retailer has several channels, like the physical store, TV ads, direct mail, and an online storefront, but each channel is separate. They aren’t working together and they aren’t customer-focused.
Omnichannel strategies put the customer at the center. Each channel works with the others to empower the customer with a personalized shopping experience and bring in more sales. And most importantly, the channels are seamlessly integrated—they aren’t competing for the customer’s undivided attention.
Why Micro Retailers Should Embrace Omnichannel
With only 22% of retailers embracing an omnichannel marketing strategy, it’s likely that your competitors aren’t doing so yet! Choosing an omnichannel strategy now can put you ahead of the pack.
Shoppers also prefer omnichannel: nearly 75% of shoppers use multiple channels to compare prices, look for coupons or discount codes, or use in-store tablets to shop online.
And not only do they use omnichannel, but they also spend more that way! Retailers who implement an omnichannel strategy see a 15-35% increase in average transaction size and a 30% higher lifetime value per customer compared to those who only shop one channel.
Example of an Omnichannel Retail Experience
So how can you put an omnichannel marketing strategy into place? Here is an example of one possible omnichannel experience:
1. A customer finds your website, browses, and buys something.
2. You send them a postcard in the mail (either separately or with their order) with a link to a special landing page. They give you their email address so they can use a special promo code you’re offering on the landing page.
3. Two weeks later, you send them an email about an in-store promotion. They come into the store to participate.
This is a simple example, but you can see how each piece is bringing them back to your store and working together. They’ve now interacted with you on your website, via mail, via email, and in your store!
The whole system is communicating or capturing information about the customer. Without an omnichannel experience, a customer either shops in a store or online and we call it a day. You’re not doing anything to keep the customer journey going.
10 Ways You Can Start Implementing an Omnichannel Experience in Your Independent Retail Business
So how can you start creating your tailed omnichannel experience for your customers? It all starts with knowing your customer on a deeper level.
1. Understand your customers.
Get a baseline understanding of how your customers interact with your business. Use data from your website, social media, point of sale system, or a customer survey to help you get a comprehensive overview of how they move throughout your business ecosystem.
2. Start your email or text marketing list.
Implementing a new channel can be intimidating, but just collecting the information from your customers (with a consensual opt-in!) is a great place to start. This can be as simple as having a clipboard with an email sign-up list at your front counter.
3. Allow customers to shop with you through social media.
You should be posting regularly and growing your following on social media. And you should add the option for customers to shop directly via your social media posts: nearly 20% of consumers shop via social media buy buttons.
4. Train your team to help customers integrate into your omnichannel experience.
If your team is used to ringing up purchases without asking for an email address or phone number, this can take some getting used to. Make sure you add some extra training and encourage teamwork so customers can opt-in to your omnichannel marketing experience.
5. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
More and more consumers are embracing online shopping, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic shifting everything online. Your website should be mobile-friendly so that customers can easily shop with you from whatever device they have on hand.
6. Actively sell on social media.
In addition to creating shoppable posts with your items on social media, you can host Facebook Live sales events, offer comment selling, or create other virtual shopping experiences for your customers.
7. Build your e-commerce storefront and learn to ship.
Many members of the Savvy Shopkeeper community built online storefronts during the pandemic, but not all of us are comfortable with shipping yet. Being able to seamlessly fulfill orders without a customer needing to come in for store pick-up is an important next step. Remember, we want to empower the customer to shop with us in the way that works for them!
8. Learn about and install your Facebook pixel.
The Facebook pixel allows you to track what customers are doing on your website and target them for advertising, if you choose to implement that. Even if you don’t, it can give you a wealth of information on your customer. There’s a lesson in Master Shopkeepers about the Facebook pixel and how to use it!
9. Use all the features available in your POS system.
Square and Shopify both offer tons of extra features like loyalty programs, app integrations, and email marketing options. Use them! And if you’re in Master Shopkeepers and need some guidance, ask in the group—there are tons of independent retailers in both groups who have extensive knowledge of everything their chose POS system can do.
10. Make everything convenient for your customers.
Whether you can offer in-store pickup through your online store, returns by mail, or a more lenient return policy, try to find ways to make shopping with you as convenient as possible.
How Are You Going to Become Omnichannel?
You can have amazing mobile marketing, engaging social media campaigns, and a well-designed website but they don’t if they don’t work together, it’s not omnichannel. I’m still working towards a full omnichannel experience in my business, but I know it’s worth it—and I hope you’ll consider adding one to your independent retail business, too.
- Join the Shopkeepers Lab
- Get on the waitlist for Master Shopkeepers
- Omnichannel Retail Simplified (Shopify)
- Omnichannel Marketing: The Ultimate Guide for Retailers (Square)
- Omnichannel Marketing: The Winning Guide for Business Growth (Paldesk)
- Podcast Sponsor: Honeycomb
*Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links or referral codes, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link or using the code. I make recommendations because I genuinely believe they are useful to shopkeepers. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
- [01:45] Defining Omnichannel Retail: What is it?
- [08:53] Why Micro Retailers Should Embrace Omnichannel
- [11:25] Example of an Omnichannel Retail Experience
- [15:23] 10 Ways You Can Start Implementing an Omnichannel Experience in Your Independent Retail Business