Offering ecommerce will generate more revenue from customers, not just get them to spend the same amount in different ways.

On first inspection, the words 'Omnichannel Retail' has all the warning signs of being "yet more eye-rolling, tut-inducing marketing twaddle" (I grant you that). But I have to admit it really is a distinct approach to multichannel retail and it is also where the current leading lights of retail (particularly those with physical stores) are placing the lion's share of their resources.

So it's worth taking a closer look ...

So what's the difference between Multichannel and Omnichannel, then?

OK. Let's say that your business already has a physical shop and an ecommerce platform*. There are other channels to think about but these are the most obvious channels to consider.

* If you don't have either or are yet to offer ecommerce, get in touch ... we will help!

If you look to maximise the performance of each of these individually, then you are following a Multichannel strategy. This approach is often motivated by the belief that users of Channel A are distinct from users of Channel B. In other words, customers that visit your shop are distinct from customers that shop with you online and they don't (or rarely) choose a different way to interact with your business. Therefore, tailor each experience specific to the users of each channel.

An Omnichannel strategy takes the view that all customers use all channels to some degree or another and often use a number of channels to start and finish a single action (like a purchase).

Instinctively, to me, omnichannel sounds like the better of the two strategies and a recently published report by Harvard Business Review, "A Study of 46,000 Shoppers Shows That Omnichannel Retailing Works" – January 03, 2017, would appear to back this position up.

"Our study's results are revealing. They show that the retailer's omnichannel customers are more valuable on multiple counts. After controlling for shopping experience, they spent an average of 4% more on every shopping occasion in the store and 10% more online than single-channel customers. Even more compelling, with every additional channel they used, the shoppers spent more money in the store. For example, customers who used 4+ channels spent 9% more in the store, on average, when compared to those who used just one channel."

"A Study of 46,000 Shoppers Shows That Omnichannel Retailing Works". Published by Harvard Business Review (January 2017).

"In addition to having bigger shopping baskets, omnichannel shoppers were also more loyal. Within six months after an omnichannel shopping experience, these customers had logged 23% more repeat shopping trips to the retailer's stores and were more likely to recommend the brand to family and friends than those who used a single channel."

"A Study of 46,000 Shoppers Shows That Omnichannel Retailing Works". Published by Harvard Business Review (January 2017).

Ok, so omnichannel is proving to be an effective strategy.

How can I start heading towards an omnichannel strategy?

First things first, you need to ask a few questions.

  1. Are you operating a retail system in store?
  2. Do you offer ecommerce?
  3. Is your ecommerce platform fully integrated with your retail system?
  4. Are your stock positions visible to online visitors?
  5. Do you offer a Click & Collect solution on your ecommerce platform?

If you answered "no" to the first question, don't convince yourself that you're too far behind already - you are not. You've got ground to make up, there's no denying that, but you can do it and we will help you do it.

If the answer to any of this is "no", then there are clear opportunities for you to get moving with an omnichannel approach to retail. Cloud POS, Ecommerce and Click & Collect are core products at Citrus-Lime and we've been delivering support and services to help our customers drive these products to achieve omnichannel success for many years.

We will help you deliver your retail strategy. Let's talk.

Interested to read the Harvard Business Review article?
Here you go.