What Is omnichannel retailing?
As digital retail rose to prominence over the course of the 2000s, forward-thinking companies lept to take advantage of multichannel retailing. Multichannel retailers promote and sell their goods through e-commerce platforms, as well as traditional mediums such as storefronts and catalogs.1
As technology has developed, so have the opportunities to reach consumers beyond traditional e-commerce sites. Savvy businesses have increasingly stepped beyond multichannel strategies and are now employing omni channel retailing to maximize their chances to connect with potential customers.
But what is omnichannel retailing, and how can businesses use it to their advantage? This guide reveals how an omnichannel retail strategy can bolster a brand’s awareness by meeting consumers where they are.
How does omnichannel retailing work?
While multichannel retailing brings products to consumers on e-commerce sites, omnichannel marketing brings a brand directly to the consumer, wherever they are. As the prefix “omni-” means “all,” omni channel retailing takes advantage of every possible channel available to help more consumers see a company’s offerings.2
When we say every, we mean every. Obviously, this results in a rather large scope for the types of retail marketing strategies that could be considered omnichannel. Some of the most evident and prolific, however, are seen in the integration of retail media ads into users’ online activities, including:
- A customer receiving targeted ads on a streaming service
- Products that users search for appearing on their social media feeds
- Prompting users to download a mobile app to enhance their experience of a service
These kinds of approaches are prime examples of the type of all-encompassing customer experience that omnichannel retailing aims to create. Every omnichannel retailer seeks to make it simple for consumers to engage with, learn about and purchase from their brand via as many platforms as possible.
In essence, effective omnichannel marketing strategies seamlessly integrate a brand and its products and services into the consumer’s life.3 Where other retail strategies maximize budgets and efforts in a few key channels, omnichannel approaches rely on a brand’s persistent presence in all spaces to drive sales.
Understanding omnichannel retailing with the Tetris Effect
One effective way to understand how omnichannel retailing works is to think of The Tetris Effect, a psychological and physical occurrence named after the arcade classic. Yes, the beloved retro video game has a physiological phenomenon associated with it, and it functions as such:4
- An avid Tetris player spends hours staring at repetitive falling blocks as they practice their craft
- They finally call it quits on video games for the day to rest their weary eyes and give their brain a break
- When they close their eyes and attempt to sleep, the image of falling bricks phantoms across their inner eyelids
While this quirky, harmless and temporary occurrence is associated with Tetris, any repetitive image can cause the same effect on a viewer.
It’s simple enough to see where this is headed in relation to omnichannel retailing. A brand’s image haunting consumers as they drift off to sleep, however, isn’t necessarily the goal of most marketing strategies.
The real prize for companies is having omnichannel customers think about their brand—either consciously or subconsciously—when they’re not confronted with it directly. In marketing terms, this translates to:
- Brand recognition
- Brand familiarity
- Top-of-the-mind awareness
These coveted trophies of the advertising world have long been heralded as markers of successful branding and marketing campaigns—having an omnichannel retail strategy is simply a modern and effective way to seize them.
Omnichannel retailing in practice
Immersive marketing techniques aren’t necessarily new phenomena. Think of amusement parks themed after animation corporations, or sports titans with their logo on everything from the athletes’ shoes to the telecast watermark.
Some megabrands have long surrounded us with their image and offerings. But, in the digital age, marketing approaches have changed and smaller businesses can now get in on the game.
People are increasingly living digital lives, and online spaces are prime territory for companies to capitalize on connecting with omnichannel customers. Likewise, digital footprints make it easier than ever to track customer engagement—an essential component to personalizing a user’s experience with a brand.
Omnichannel retailing aims to advertise through multiple platforms, but different consumers use various platforms for commerce, communication and leisure. The average social media user has accounts on 6.6 platforms, so a single potential customer may use one or all of these on a given day:5
- Various other social media apps
- Other online retailers
- Brick-and-mortar retail stores
- Communication apps such as Messenger and WhatsApp
- Text messaging
- Entertainment platforms such as Netflix, Hulu and others
- Other media hosting sites and streaming services
Nowadays, sites are becoming increasingly interconnected with integrated logins for Google and Meta. And, unless users are taking measured precautions to limit their trackability, their actions are becoming increasingly easy to follow across the multiple platforms they use—making it easier for brands to target a single user across several channels.
Creating user personas to facilitate omnichannel marketing
One potent omnichannel strategy for retailers is to create user personas to target consumers who are most likely to convert. Brands can start with first-party data of their existing customer base and assess the trends of ones who have converted, when and on which products.
User personas also allow a company to:3
- Get an idea of the types of sites and services their users frequent
- Understand the kinds of communication their audience is likely to respond to
- Determine what products their audience is interested in and how to advertise them
Once a business has an idea of a consumer’s sensibilities and how they spend their time, it can better cater an omnichannel experience for them.
How to meet consumers on their level
An omnichannel retailer should seek to meet consumers where they are—physically, emotionally and digitally. Hence, robust campaigns take full advantage of:
- Social media – Omnichannel retailing isn’t just about maintaining a presence on Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and every other possible platform; it’s about keeping a consistent omnichannel customer experience. A brand’s persona and the types of products a user sees should ring cohesive from app to app.
- SMS, email and other communication platforms – Messages that users perceive as spam can be annoying or off-putting. But an email containing a 20% off coupon for the exact item that the user is considering? That will lead to customer satisfaction and a more effective way to close a sale.
- Targeted advertising – Most people today recognize an ad for what it is, so they must be personalized to hold customer engagement. How does a business know what products a user wants to see? They’ve been tracking customer data consisting of what they’ve already purchased, the media they consume and their behavior in other channels.
Of course, digital spaces alone aren’t the only aspects of the omnichannel approach. An omnichannel strategy should also take into consideration:
- The brand’s presence in brick-and-mortar storefronts
- Traditional media, such as television, radio and magazines
- Out of Home (OOH) advertising, such as billboards or public transportation
- Tactics that combine digital and real-world, like guerilla marketing or pop-up shops
In these spaces, it’s not as easy to keep tabs on customers’ routines and cater to individual experiences. Still, there are ways to link a consumer’s real-world habits to their online presence, including:
- Asking for email addresses at physical checkouts to track a customer’s purchases and send them offers for similar items
- Selling digital tickets to keep tabs on who attends what events and provide them with information about upcoming in-person events.
- Distributing information and tickets for real-world events, such as pop-ups, through digital platforms or to shoppers that make frequent online purchases
These are a small sample of the ways in which marketers connect customers’ online personas to their real-world activities. Digital marketing is complex, and approaches are unique to specific brands and the consumers they wish to target.
Rather than devise their own omnichannel approach, many businesses turn to a digital marketing agency to help them develop omnichannel retail plans.
Power Digital helps cover all your omnichannel bases
If an omnichannel retailing strategy is the missing link to getting more customers through your door (whether digital or physical) but you’re not sure how to cover all your bases, Power Digital can help.
Power Digital is a leading growth marketing firm with the skills and experience to devise targeted omnichannel marketing strategies. From gathering customer data to developing targeted ads for high-converting users, we can cover every channel of your marketing plan.
If you want to energize your brand’s image and drive users from every channel, power your omnichannel retailing with Power Digital.
- Journal of Interactive Marketing. Crafting Integrated Multichannel Retailing Strategies. https://www.researchgate.net/
- Amazon Ads. Multichannel vs. omnichannel: What is the difference?. https://advertising.amazon.com/
- University of Pennsylvania, What Is Omnichannel Marketing?. https://online.wharton.upenn.edu/
- American Association for the Advancement of Science. Even Amnesics Dream of Tetris. https://www.science.org/
- The University of Maine. Social Media Statistics Details. https://umaine.edu/