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The Importance of Omnichannel eCommerce Strategies in 2021

Brent Peterson Brent Peterson May 11, 2021

After the 2020 eCommerce boom that was spurred on by social distancing orders and lockdowns, retailers around the world found themselves unprepared to market their products to new audiences. For many sellers, the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic “felt more like running from a natural disaster than stepping into a new opportunity,” Jake Athey accurately explained. 

As new eCommerce sellers have quickly discovered, one of the hardest parts about selling online is the process of creating an omnichannel presence. Some businesses might be tempted to just stick to their branded website and their physical storefront, but changing consumer trends reveal that these channels alone probably won’t be enough to stave off the competition for long.

What “Omnichannel” Really Entails

The term “omnichannel” doesn’t literally mean that your company has to have a presence on every single channel available. The term is more about defining your brand and creating a consistent presence on every channel you choose to utilize. Being an omnichannel brand means that a customer will have a seamless experience whether they shop on your eCommerce store, through your Instagram page, or within your brick and mortar store. 

This means that you will have to do research about your target audiences and which channels they prefer to use. According to insights from a recent BigCommerce report, “U.S. consumers across the board shop across all channels,” with younger shoppers buying more from Snapchat and Instagram, and older generations preferring Facebook for online shopping. However, all generations report buying products in-store, on branded websites, on Amazon, and on various social media platforms, which means that brands have to flexibly adapt to wherever their customers visit most often.

Benefits of Omnichannel Marketing

In 2020, Adobe’s Aaron Goldberg wrote that the benefits of omnichannel “are so substantial and offer so much differentiation that organizations that move to omnichannel will quickly gain a critical competitive advantage.” Goldberg even went so far as to say that moving to an omnichannel strategy could be the most important decision a brand can make during these times. 

According to several other eCommerce analysts and marketing experts, this prediction was spot on. Companies that develop cohesive omnichannel strategies can reap multiple benefits, including:

  • More visibility. If you post blogs on your website twice a week, you might get some regular viewers. However, if you post a blog on your website and then share the link on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you’ve just opened yourself up to entirely new audiences!
  • Deeper customer personalization. Omnichannel retail is about creating a seamless buying journey. A customer can start shopping using their phone and then move to their laptop without having to re-enter their information. The more channels and touch points they go through, the more personalized their recommendations become.
  • Long-term customer relationships. When customers feel like your brand is trustworthy and consistent, they’ll be much less likely to shop at another store. Developing a brand presence on social media channels, for example, is a great way to nurture customer loyalty.
  • Increased revenue. If you put in the work to identify the right channels for reaching your target customers, you’ll have the data you need to create highly effective marketing campaigns that convert.

Omnichannel Tactics

As mentioned previously, choosing the best channels for your business is not about selecting the most popular channels, but selecting the most effective pathways for reaching your audience. “So many people jump onto a platform because it’s where they were ‘told’ to go, or because they think it will be the ‘next big trend,’” says Christina Hager of Ovations Digital. Instead, you should focus on channels where your target market is already highly engaged and what kind of content they interact with. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Create buyer personas. When thinking about your target customers, ask yourself about some of the common traits your audience shares. Consider demographics and more personal data, such as their values, needs, and goals. Work with your team to develop several unique personas before moving onto the next step.
  • Approach your brand like a customer. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Try to go through a typical process with multiple touchpoints, such as tapping a link on Facebook, visiting your website on your phone, and then viewing the checkout from your computer. Take note of any areas that seemed slow or confusing to make the buying journey more efficient.
  • Develop email drip campaigns. Abandoned cart information, newsletters, loyalty programs, and special offers can all be delivered through customers’ emails, and best of all, it can all be automated! You can set up email sequences that are triggered by specific actions, ensuring that the right customer will always get relevant information. For instance, if someone exits your website in the middle of checking out, an abandoned cart message can encourage them to come back and complete the purchase.
  • Listen to your customers. Utilize social listening tools to keep track of what people are saying about your brand online, ask open-ended questions on social media, or create polls for your audience to select what’s most important to them. By proactively engaging with your customers, you show them that you genuinely care about their thoughts and want to create products and experiences they’ll love.

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