Omnichannel 101: A Crash Course for Modern Marketers


You probably thought the end was nigh the first time you saw an in-store customer check a price on his phone, right? In reality, mobile devices used during in-store shopping converted close to $600 billion in 2013 sales. If you can’t provide an omnichannel experience, you may be missing out in a big way.

Still, the idea of reformatting your website or adding touch screens to your fitting rooms is pretty terrifying. Where do you start, and what do you focus on? Consider this your crash course on the finer points of omnichannel strategy. Here are five best practices for improving your omnichannel approach:

1. Plan Your Strategy

Embracing mobile technology as part of your omnichannel process doesn’t mean you have to be all things to all people. It’s all about improving the customer experience for your specific customers. That might mean developing a single-purpose app or making your site adaptive. There’s no one right answer, but it’s important to focus on what your customers need before you start making changes.

2. Value Process Over Tech

It’s tough saying “no” to shiny things. You may want to choose technology before you consult your data or develop a process, but tech must fit with your operating model, not the other way around. Besides, spending time and money on something like your own company app may not be worthwhile.

Eighty-two percent of shoppers will look to search engines first to find product information. Consider ditching the app and using SEO and other online marketing strategies to attract more mobile customers at a lower cost.

3. Optimize Your Site

Eighty percent of store shoppers compare prices online, so your site needs to be ready for the big leagues. First, reformat your website for a mobile audience. That means thumb-friendly navigation, reduced graphics, and as little typing as necessary. The best sites for omnichannel selling change based on the device they’re viewed on, have consistent branding, and are so intuitive that a toddler could navigate them.

If you don’t optimize your site, you’ll lose sales. Fifty-seven percent of mobile users will ditch a website if it takes more than three seconds to load, and 30 percent of users will abandon a transaction if a shopping cart isn’t mobile-friendly. Reformatting your mobile site lets your customers navigate, engage, and buy with ease.

4. Optimize Your Store

Your employees may be personable, but 58 percent of shoppers would rather look up info on their phones and tablets than talk to your staff. This isn’t something to be afraid of — it’s a trend you need to embrace.

Retailer eBay is on the cutting edge of this in-store omnichannel strategy. The brand is experimenting with a “connected fitting room” to allow customers to interact with a touch screen. The rooms use radio frequency identification chips to recognize each piece of merchandise so a customer can easily use the screen to ask a retail associate for a different size, text an image to a phone, or make a purchase.

The more seamless you make your in-store shopping experience, the more sales you’ll reel in.

5. Work Across Channels

Keeping your traditional and digital marketing teams separate will stall your omnichannel strategy’s growth. You need to break down the barriers so you can leverage historical and newly collected digital data to improve both channels.

When you choose to ignore the way your customers want to shop, they’ll have no problem snubbing your brand. It’s scary, but with a sound strategy and process in place, omnichannel is a leap that’s certainly worth taking.