Aarushi Ranjan
Sep 4, 2018 · 10 min read

If we were shopping a decade ago, most of us would rush to retail stores, which were the only interaction points between customers and buyers. We would pick our product from the store and drive home, and that was the end of it. But, thanks to the emergence of eCommerce trends across the globe, we can now look for a product online, compare prices, read reviews, go to the physical store, try it there, apply online coupons and get it delivered to our home from the store. No more carrying shopping bags around. Period.

Welcome to the world of Omni-channel retail, where you are connected from online to offline through a unified experience. While shipping is playing a huge role in omni-channel retail, it is also helping retailers discover newer potentials of their business.

What is Omnichannel?

Omni-channel marketing is a contemporary approach to traditional selling that primarily focuses on creating a unified shopping experience for the customer across different marketing channels. Omni-channel marketing uses the multi-channel approach to reach out to the customers and offer a superior shopping experience to the users at all touch-points.

Omni-channel is an eCommerce approach and must not be confused with multi-channel marketing. While multi-channel marketing is a more comprehensive approach to establishing an individual presence across marketing channels such as Facebook, mobile app, website etc. Omni-channel specifically targets optimizing the different channels to create an overall experience necessarily.

The omni-channel strategy isn’t something that can be implemented in one single day. As much as it requires time, it also requires understanding the requirements of your customer to put your feet on the ground for a seamless experience.

For a particular brand, a seamless, unified multi-channel experience would mean:

A person ‘X’ visits a retail store and browses products. He then scans it and adds to the store’s online application to purchase it from home at a later duration of time.

‘X’ visits your offline store and purchases a shirt. He then gets notified about the availability of similar styles on the online store.

‘X’ gets exclusive coupons by participating in a quiz on your online application to shop on your offline store.

If you’re stepping into the world of Omnichannel retail, you must be able to integrate your online and offline experiences and provide such experiences along with much more.

Take an example of the beauty products brand Sephora. Customers can visit the store and test the products they like, on Sephora’s online app, through the experience of virtual reality. Although there is no hard and fast rule concerning the use of advanced technologies such virtual reality for your store, there’s one thing that must exist- providing shopping opportunity for the customer all of their touch points.

Source: Shopify

Why do you need an Omni-channel presence?

You own a store and website for your brand. Also, you have your brand pages on social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Customers visit your offline store and make purchases. So, what is in it for you to integrate all your selling channels?

Apart from the fact that customers love to shop from an omni-channel experience, there are plenty of statistics to support it.

Omni-channel experience can compel the customer to shop more and perceive your brand experience as more satisfactory.

With growing eCommerce shopping experiences, customers are becoming smarter and buying products after conducting extensive research online. Put differently; they will compare prices on your online store, Facebook channels, and other marketplaces. If you offer shopping platform at all of these touch-points, your customers can look for coupons from online source and shop wherever they find suitable.

A recent study showed that the customers loved using omni-channel touch-points and shopped in some combinations and places on such platforms. Such customers were fond of using smartphones for their purchase and also looked for interactive shopping experiences such as in-store price checker, catalog, tablet etc.

Provided an omni-channel experience, the customers

Shopped 7% more exclusively

As much as 73% used multiple channels

Spent 4% more in-store and 10% more online

Moreover, companies facilitating omni-channel retail were able to retain 89% more customers on different channels as compared to those who used did not.

When it comes to Omni-channel marketing, more the number of channels you can integrate for your store, more valuables your customer become. For example, there is a tendency of the customer to spend 9% more if you integrate more than four channels as compared to just one.

I hope this makes up your mind for embracing omni-channel.

Omni-channel has a strong potential for increasing the convertibility of customers. In simpler terms, more the number of integrated converting platforms you provide, the more will they convert. This also increases other essential metrics such as customer retention and lifetime value for your brand.

According to a recent study, shoppers who can convert on any channel have a 30% increased lifetime value. Disney stands as one of the magnificent examples of omni channel retail, that has created potential for shopping at every customer touch point.

The Omni-Channel Picture in India

With digitization trends sweeping the world off its feet, India is too picking up the pace. Most of the urban Internet users are shopping online and searching for products through mixed pathways online. According to recent market research, there are nearly 90 million online shoppers today in India. Out of these, 70 percent of the shoppers admit being influenced by digital trends and channels before making an actual purchase.

The online shopping trends in India are paving new ways for omni-channel potential, as more and more buyers are adopting mixed pathways. As a business, if you’re figuring out the path that your customers are taking before making a purchase, it is best advised to consult the conversion view in Google Analytics, which gives you a detailed journey of your buyer in the checkout funnel.

Omni-channel necessity strictly varies across different groups in India. To implement it for your business, you must understand the exact pathway that best matches your products and services. So, if you’re selling fresh foods, you might not require an omni-channel strategy, because, most of the customers are purchasing it in store. However, the scenario is the opposite when it comes to electronic goods.

The advent of the year 2018 marked a fantastic opportunity for omni-channel potential in India. Having said this, there is a massive battle between online and offline in the Indian retail picture. Even if people are not shopping in your store, they are probably searching for it somewhere online. For this reason, there is a need for the businesses to be omnipresent in today’s scenario.

Did you know? 75% of the Indian customers look for a brand online before making an in-store purchase.

So, there is a lot of movement happening from online to offline channels which are promoting ‘hybrid’ shopping instincts in Indian shoppers. Many favorite retail brands are realizing this potential and optimizing their strategies to create an omnipresent shopping experience.

The retail brand Max Fashion, went online under the brand Landmark but soon realized that it needed to create a different experience for Indian users. It then launched its online web portal in 2007. Because customers these days look for your website and want to convert online, there is a need to create a hybrid potential. With this, the brand estimates its conversions to increase by 10 % next year.

Considering the Omni-channel marketing, three things work in India scenario- customization, personalization and localization.

Shipping Strategies

Shipping is a significant opportunity when it comes to omni-channel retail. It differs from multi-channel in quite many ways. Right from integrating your shipping models to capitalizing on small strategies, shipping is all about providing a holistic experience to the customers and unifying it across all platforms.

Omni-channel retail also offers an upper hand on critical issues of regular or multi-channel shipping. Since the gap between offline to online is bridged effectively, shipping can be one of the most powerful tools for businesses to maximize customer experiences and earn a reputation with them. Discover the top shipping strategies for omni-channel shipping here-

Create a single program: Getting your shipping game right in omni-channel retail is a prime factor for your customer satisfaction. You may be catering to a plethora of customer needs, but unless you create an umbrella program for that, it would be difficult to provide a unified omnipresent experience for the customer. For example, as a retailer, you may be selling pantry items as well as home-ware. Instead of creating a different shipping program for each of these, create a unified plan so that your customers get their desired products as and when they want.

Customer experience: Shipping services for omni-channel retail can be a full-time task. So, even if your customers are visiting your physical store, you are shipping your products directly to their doorstep. If you create a shipping program for your customer, the first thing that you require for its success is to enable user signups. More the number of users hop into your application, more successful will it be. But unless you have a package experience to offer to the customers, why will they sign up for your program?

Consider Amazon Prime the biggest example of this strategy. Prime is successful not just because of its shipping offerings but a plethora of other facilities such as free music, video, music etc.

So, try to develop a holistic customer experience for your shipping plans such that it is unique to your brand and also targets your customer in many ways.

Local returns: Returns can be a nightmare for retailers. There goes a lot of hard work in packaging your products and then delivering them to your customer’s doorstep. But, when you get returns, the entire effort turns to squander. Omni-channel retail, however, allows exceptional abilities to capitalize on your returns. You can offer in-store returns for your online products, which can give you a chance to boost your in-store sales. When customers come to visit your store, no matter if it for returning products, it is a selling opportunity for you. With this, returns become a part of your sales strategy in omni-channel marketing.

Catering to the local community: Omni-channel retail can be an extraordinary opportunity to target your local community and achieve success on your ongoing strategies. It is also important to perform market research on your neighborhood and understand customer buying models. Even if you receive an online order, capitalize on the delivery opportunity from your physical store to its neighboring area. Based on the ratio of customers who live in nearby areas, you can develop a shipping model and cater to various delivery needs of the customer. One of the biggest achievers in this category is Wall Mart. It has developed shipping strategies around its neighborhood, which is nearly 90% of the US population.

Faster delivery: As you discover the neighborhood of customers for your retail business, you can offer faster delivery options for online as well as offline orders. If you’re a large scale business, you can assign your people for delivery.

However, a smarter option will be to opt for a courier aggregator which has partnered with popular regional carriers of your area and can sort your order delivery issues for you. Courier aggregators not just ease your shipping process but also provide you with the cheapest rates for your packages. For example, Shiprocket is a courier aggregator that has over 15 partnered couriers and deliver to over 26000+ PIN codes in India. You can start shipping for as low as Rs 27/500 gm with them.

Inventory utilization: Omni-channel can also be a source to utilize your inventory the way you need. When you’re shipping from your store, you know which inventory needs to reach out first to your customers. Thus, you can use your old and obsolete inventory, which may not happen otherwise.

Decreased expenditure: Developing a shipping model to cater to your local community can help you decrease your expenditure and manage your costs effectively. The costs behind local distribution centers and additional labor are ruled out.

Replenishment: Replenishment of products to online and offline stores was a tiresome task and was difficult to balance for businesses. With Omni-channel retail, one has more flexibility of replenishment because ultimately all shopping channels are unified for the customer.

There was a time when retailers and eCommerce owners were a separate entity. But with advancements in the global trends, the need for a unified approach to shopping has emerged.

Omni-channel is tapping that potential and opening new arenas for a retail business to utilize opportunities and not just keep their potential trapped under the horizon. Shipping that was earlier a part of eCommerce strategies is now extending to retailers and helping them be a part of the global movement. The key to effective planning is not to blend with this trend but to implement innovation for your brand.

Shiprocket

India's Leading eCommerce Shipping and Logistics Platform. Learn to start an ecommerce business, how to fulfill and manage orders, ship your ecommerce products at lowest prices and lots more!

Aarushi Ranjan

Written by

I am an eCommerce logistics expert and an avid follower of trends in the eCommerce industry.

Shiprocket

India's Leading eCommerce Shipping and Logistics Platform. Learn to start an ecommerce business, how to fulfill and manage orders, ship your ecommerce products at lowest prices and lots more!

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