Navigating Omnichannel Complexities: 3 Tips for Success


Navigating the omnichannel universe is a challenge for many retailers, whether they started out online or as a physical business. This is because it is difficult to figure out which channels to leverage. This article explores strategies to create an omnichannel business that makes sense to each reader’s unique business. Stefan Sjostrand, the president of Ikea Canada, recently cautioned businesses about in-store sales cannibalization and shared how Ikea will lead the way in succeeding both offline and online.

Stefan Sjostrand, Ikea Canada President, recently shared his views on multi-channel retailing and how many businesses are doing it “wrong”. As a result, companies today are experiencing cannibalization of storefront sales at the expense of online channels.

According to an HRC Advisory survey, cannibalization is so strong that nearly 75 percent of survey respondents are finding that e-commerce transactions are stealing sales that normally happen in stores. With e-commerce growth rates surpassing brick-and-mortar store sales by 10-15 percent, 70 percent of retailers struggle to formulate a profitable balance between in-store and online sales.

With e-commerce sales rising rapidly, there are a few key recommendations to consider so that your in-store sales remain healthy. At Elastic Path we work with leading B2C and B2B organizations to help them deliver enterprise e-commerce that is flexible and open. Our Gartner-rated e-commerce technology has enabled companies like Virgin Media to transact with customers in new and disruptive ways.

Here is what our team of experts recommends to navigate the complexities of an omnichannel strategy.

Develop Customer Personas That Focus On Buying Behavior

Understanding the behavior of your buyer persona is key to select the right technology to boost sales both online and offline. Focusing on behavior from discovery to decision, you want to outline where, when and how the persona is interacting with your product/service both in-store and online.

Take a millennial who looks for furnishings for her first place, for example. Where, aside from your online catalog, is she looking to weigh her options online? Does she browse Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration? What about offline? Does she walk into competing stores and pull ideas from showroom-inspired settings? What about your own stores?

Having a complete view of your target market’s’ behavior online and offline will allow you to select technology that will engage the consumer with your product at every step of their purchasing journey.

Implement Technology that Promotes Online Transactions

Now that you have a solid grasp of how your different personas purchase, you can begin to plan out your omnichannel approach online. Choose technology that is relevant to your personas. Take a baby boomer for example, who is looking for a luxury vacation for her and her husband. Her youngest has finally left the nest and this is the first solo trip the couple has had in years. Where will the wife’s vacation search begin? Perhaps she saw a colleague’s photos on Instagram of a trip to Monte Carlo. Assuming she double-tapped, is your company targeting Instagram ads so your resort’s photos appear in her feed? Can she link to a mobile-optimized website and view an interactive library of aspirational vacation photos and video?

It will be important to first utilize marketing channels on these social networking apps and, second, have a simple mobile experience that will allow the prospect to purchase the product right from his or her phone.

Taking your e-commerce store into account, you then want to look into how your content engages the consumer in your site. What applications did you set up to provide smart recommendations based on the vacation spots the consumer is showcasing interest in? How simple is your checkout process? Are there possible steps that could be removed to enable a more efficient transaction?

As technology advances, it is important to work with a flexible e-commerce platform that will allow your organization to be a leader in how people purchase online. Ensure that your e-commerce consultant builds in tracking measures so you can continuously innovate with data-driven metrics.

Implement Technology that Promotes In-store Transactions

Mobile technology is also a powerful resource to facilitate in-store sales. Coupled with beacons, your organization can communicate with your online app on the shopper’s smartphone. Based on previous online activity, the shopper will receive personalized in-store offers when he or she walks by strategically placed beacons.

In-store, the cost-conscious millennial will be enticed with offers potentially backed with months of search history. If you know exactly what the consumer wants, beacon technology allows you to target the right offers at just the right time. In 2015 alone, experts estimated that $4.1 billion of all U.S. sales were driven by beacon technology. The potential of these types of tech to drive in-store sales is huge, considering that beacon technology is currently utilized by a small fraction of retailers.

Take a moment to consider your omnichannel strategy. What strategies do you have in place to drive people to both your online and offline channels? Now, reflect on how you can take this one step further.




Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Get Elastic


About the author: Linda Bustos

As Director of Ecommerce Research at Elastic Path, Linda Bustos works with some of the world’s largest companies to help improve conversion rates and profitability on the Web. In addition to writing the Get Elastic blog since 2007, Linda’s articles have appeared in Mobile Marketer, CMO Magazine, E-Marketing + Commerce, and Search Marketing Standard. She is a frequent speaker at industry events, including XCommerce, Conversion Conference, and Affiliate Management Days.

In 2010, Linda earned a spot on the DMNews Top 30 Direct Marketers Under 30 list. She has served as faculty for the Banff New Media Institute’s Career Accelerator Program and Marketing Profs University, and has appeared as one of the Top 100 Influential Marketers of the year in 2008 and 2009. Prior to joining Elastic Path, Linda worked agency-side, specializing in usability and SEO.

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