eCommerce Marketing Growth Hacks 

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November 21st 4:30pm GMT / 11:30am EST
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Campbell

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The eCommerce Marketing Blueprint

Online Retail: Cross-Channel, Multi-Channel, Omni-Channel Marketing

Posted on 22nd December 2014 , by Kunle Campbell in Strategy

Businesses are moving toward a cross-channel or multi-channel approach to sales.

But what do these much-bandied terms really mean, and more importantly, are they what customers really want? The majority of customers say they want a seamlessly integrated shopping experience, where the same purchase can be completed over multiple channels without obstructions or jarring changes between channels. And an equally large majority of retailers aren’t getting it.

This seamless experience is called omni-channel selling, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

First, though, let’s clear up the differences between cross-channel, multi-channel and omni-channel.

Cross-Channel

Cross-channel refers to using several different channels to complete a purchase. For instance, a customer who picks out a product in the Argos catalogue, then buys it over the phone, has ‘crossed channels’ and the sale was ‘cross-channel.’

In terms of online commerce, it frequently refers either to customers who go to shops to try on clothes which they then buy online, or to customers who shop online for a product and then pick it up in-store. This happens very frequently: Toys’R’Us launched a ‘buy online, pick up in store’ service four years ago and Wal-mart was quick to follow suit.

40% of shoppers walking out of stores have done some form of “pre-shopping.”

About 40% of goods bought online at Best Buy are picked up in-store. Now, according to Paco Underhill, a New York-based environmental psychologist, ‘our research shows that more than 40% of shoppers walking out of stores have done some form of “pre-shopping.” Customers use cross-channel, but they aren’t really getting anything from it in terms of experience – it’s largely a question of using one channel for research and another for purchase. In a way, it reinforces the division between online and offline.

Multi-channel

Multi-channel is a different animal. Multi-channel is using multiple channels to sell or connect, but each channel retains its identity. There’s an attempt to tie together elements like inventory, so online preparatory shopping doesn’t show products as available that aren’t actually in the store when the customer gets there, but there’s no real attempt to produce a truly seamless customer experience.

The first store to have a noteable success with this tactic is Nordstrom. The retailer linked its online inventory to its total real world inventory, meaning that customers who looked online could buy a product – and have it shipped to them – if it was available anywhere in the company.

The result? Sales leapt – instore and online. That linked inventory is important or several reasons: first, it’s a major step towards recognising the fact that what’s important is the relationship between brand and customer, and the purchase itself – the channel isn’t important.

It’s the beginning of setting customers free from specific channels, something they say they want. And it recognises the boom in channels. Over 62% of people with a net-connected mobile phone have bought something online with it;

Phones, tablets and laptops as well as desktops need to be seen as different channels.

Customers are using them differently, but they’re going to the same place: purchase.

Omni-channel

Differences between omnichannel and multichannel [via SmartInsights.com]
Differences between omnichannel and multichannel [via SmartInsights.com]

Which brings us to omni-channel…Omni-channel is using all channels as though they were variations of each other. There’s no difference between goods, pricing and other aspects between online and offline experiences. This is the seamless experience customers really want.

Whereas ‘the early days of ecommerce were all about getting stuff online,’ in the words of venture capitalist Michiel Kotting, ‘now it’s [about] building brands.

We’re seeing things like pop-up stores to capture specific markets, or concept flagship stores merging into the offline. There’s a move from plain e-commerce to brand building.’

As for the reasons for adopting omni-channel selling, figures strongly suggest that in the UK, mobile customers’ share of total purchases will grow by 55% in the next five years and reach nearly £20bn within a decade.

When that happens, though, mobile customers will make up only 5% of all UK retail; eMarketer claims that by 2017, 84% of our sales activity will still be taking place in bricks-and-mortar shops. But it won’t be the same kind of shopping we did before the digital revolution.

Already, 80% of shoppers check prices online, using mobile technology to check up on prices with other retailers, including online retailers. We’re omni-channel shopping – browsing products that are physically present right in front of us and products online, checking prices in a range of physical locations and online stores – already.

All that’s needed is for retailers to catch up. For retailers, the first important point is that omni-channel consumers already exist.

A tech-led omni-channel revolution has already been tried and it already failed. Luke Vinogradov, Tesco’s mobile experience director, remembers in 1999 he was developing mobile products and ‘we thought they were cool, but they failed to enthuse anyone other than tech experts.’

Now omni-channel is the way consumers prefer to shop. The modern consumer is ‘channel-agnostic,’ in the phrase of Carsten Thoma. That means consumers don’t care about channels – they care about experience. They’re online, offline, on the web, on apps.

They’re comparing prices, trying on instore, buying on the web, tweeting about the experience as it happens – in restaurants, hostile tweets often happen midmeal – and Instagraming the results to people they know in real life.

How to Go Omni-Channel


You customers’ conversations and relationships are already omni-channel. It’s time retail goes omni-channel.
How do we go about it?

First, check the basics. Refine and optimize your online presence, both on the web and mobile. Build your social presence in a way that’s conscious of the need for branding and engagement above all, and seek to make your social presence omni-channel – your content should follow and engage with customers across channels.

#1. Put search marketing strategies first.

If your conversion path is delivering, then it’s time to improve search with both organic and paid search strategies, working hand in hand. Driving traffic is a massive component of getting omni-channel right – you can’t engage with people across channels if you can’t engage with them at all, and search is still the best way to do this.

#2. Target existing customers with site retargeting.

Use website visits and your CRM database to equip yourself with targeted ads you can beam out to existing customers, giving them personalized and relevant material. People who are already customers already like your brand: encourage that behaviour with retargeting.

#3. Use mobile to connect the dots.

The mobile web is the part of the internet that’s growing fastest, as phones, tablets and phablets get in on the act. Mobile use has given brands the capacity to reach customers anywhere and at any time: don’t leave that on the table. If you want to see these strategies in action, look across the pond to Macy’s. The famous department store is encouraging shoppers in the US holiday season, lasting from Thanksgiving through Christmas, to scan products via the retailer’s mobile app while they’re in store. Macy’s is planning to ‘close the gap between store, desktop and mobile,’ and their strategy for doing so relies heavily on mobile.

Useful Infographics about Cross-Channel, Multi-Channel, Omni-Channel Marketing

Econsultancy Cross-Channel Marketing Report

Econsultancy Multichannel Marketing Venn Diagram
Econsultancy Multichannel Marketing Venn Diagram

Econsultancy Cross-Channel Marketing Report

 

Econsultancy Cross-channel Marketing Report
Econsultancy Cross-channel Marketing Report

6 Must-Know Tips for Omnichannel Selling [Infographic]
ReferralCandy – Refer-a-friend Programs for Ecommerce Stores

About the author:

Kunle Campbell

An ecommerce advisor to ambitious, agile online retailers and funded ecommerce startups seeking exponentially sales growth through scalable customer acquisition, retention, conversion optimisation, product/market fit optimisation and customer referrals.

Did You Enjoy Reading this Article?

Get Free Email Updates by Signing Up Below:

Podcasts you might like

Online Retail: Cross-Channel, Multi-Channel, Omni-Channel Marketing

Posted on 22nd December 2014 , by Kunle Campbell in Strategy

Businesses are moving toward a cross-channel or multi-channel approach to sales.

But what do these much-bandied terms really mean, and more importantly, are they what customers really want? The majority of customers say they want a seamlessly integrated shopping experience, where the same purchase can be completed over multiple channels without obstructions or jarring changes between channels. And an equally large majority of retailers aren’t getting it.

This seamless experience is called omni-channel selling, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

First, though, let’s clear up the differences between cross-channel, multi-channel and omni-channel.

Cross-Channel

Cross-channel refers to using several different channels to complete a purchase. For instance, a customer who picks out a product in the Argos catalogue, then buys it over the phone, has ‘crossed channels’ and the sale was ‘cross-channel.’

In terms of online commerce, it frequently refers either to customers who go to shops to try on clothes which they then buy online, or to customers who shop online for a product and then pick it up in-store. This happens very frequently: Toys’R’Us launched a ‘buy online, pick up in store’ service four years ago and Wal-mart was quick to follow suit.

40% of shoppers walking out of stores have done some form of “pre-shopping.”

About 40% of goods bought online at Best Buy are picked up in-store. Now, according to Paco Underhill, a New York-based environmental psychologist, ‘our research shows that more than 40% of shoppers walking out of stores have done some form of “pre-shopping.” Customers use cross-channel, but they aren’t really getting anything from it in terms of experience – it’s largely a question of using one channel for research and another for purchase. In a way, it reinforces the division between online and offline.

Multi-channel

Multi-channel is a different animal. Multi-channel is using multiple channels to sell or connect, but each channel retains its identity. There’s an attempt to tie together elements like inventory, so online preparatory shopping doesn’t show products as available that aren’t actually in the store when the customer gets there, but there’s no real attempt to produce a truly seamless customer experience.

The first store to have a noteable success with this tactic is Nordstrom. The retailer linked its online inventory to its total real world inventory, meaning that customers who looked online could buy a product – and have it shipped to them – if it was available anywhere in the company.

The result? Sales leapt – instore and online. That linked inventory is important or several reasons: first, it’s a major step towards recognising the fact that what’s important is the relationship between brand and customer, and the purchase itself – the channel isn’t important.

It’s the beginning of setting customers free from specific channels, something they say they want. And it recognises the boom in channels. Over 62% of people with a net-connected mobile phone have bought something online with it;

Phones, tablets and laptops as well as desktops need to be seen as different channels.

Customers are using them differently, but they’re going to the same place: purchase.

Omni-channel

Differences between omnichannel and multichannel [via SmartInsights.com]
Differences between omnichannel and multichannel [via SmartInsights.com]

Which brings us to omni-channel…Omni-channel is using all channels as though they were variations of each other. There’s no difference between goods, pricing and other aspects between online and offline experiences. This is the seamless experience customers really want.

Whereas ‘the early days of ecommerce were all about getting stuff online,’ in the words of venture capitalist Michiel Kotting, ‘now it’s [about] building brands.

We’re seeing things like pop-up stores to capture specific markets, or concept flagship stores merging into the offline. There’s a move from plain e-commerce to brand building.’

As for the reasons for adopting omni-channel selling, figures strongly suggest that in the UK, mobile customers’ share of total purchases will grow by 55% in the next five years and reach nearly £20bn within a decade.

When that happens, though, mobile customers will make up only 5% of all UK retail; eMarketer claims that by 2017, 84% of our sales activity will still be taking place in bricks-and-mortar shops. But it won’t be the same kind of shopping we did before the digital revolution.

Already, 80% of shoppers check prices online, using mobile technology to check up on prices with other retailers, including online retailers. We’re omni-channel shopping – browsing products that are physically present right in front of us and products online, checking prices in a range of physical locations and online stores – already.

All that’s needed is for retailers to catch up. For retailers, the first important point is that omni-channel consumers already exist.

A tech-led omni-channel revolution has already been tried and it already failed. Luke Vinogradov, Tesco’s mobile experience director, remembers in 1999 he was developing mobile products and ‘we thought they were cool, but they failed to enthuse anyone other than tech experts.’

Now omni-channel is the way consumers prefer to shop. The modern consumer is ‘channel-agnostic,’ in the phrase of Carsten Thoma. That means consumers don’t care about channels – they care about experience. They’re online, offline, on the web, on apps.

They’re comparing prices, trying on instore, buying on the web, tweeting about the experience as it happens – in restaurants, hostile tweets often happen midmeal – and Instagraming the results to people they know in real life.

How to Go Omni-Channel


You customers’ conversations and relationships are already omni-channel. It’s time retail goes omni-channel.
How do we go about it?

First, check the basics. Refine and optimize your online presence, both on the web and mobile. Build your social presence in a way that’s conscious of the need for branding and engagement above all, and seek to make your social presence omni-channel – your content should follow and engage with customers across channels.

#1. Put search marketing strategies first.

If your conversion path is delivering, then it’s time to improve search with both organic and paid search strategies, working hand in hand. Driving traffic is a massive component of getting omni-channel right – you can’t engage with people across channels if you can’t engage with them at all, and search is still the best way to do this.

#2. Target existing customers with site retargeting.

Use website visits and your CRM database to equip yourself with targeted ads you can beam out to existing customers, giving them personalized and relevant material. People who are already customers already like your brand: encourage that behaviour with retargeting.

#3. Use mobile to connect the dots.

The mobile web is the part of the internet that’s growing fastest, as phones, tablets and phablets get in on the act. Mobile use has given brands the capacity to reach customers anywhere and at any time: don’t leave that on the table. If you want to see these strategies in action, look across the pond to Macy’s. The famous department store is encouraging shoppers in the US holiday season, lasting from Thanksgiving through Christmas, to scan products via the retailer’s mobile app while they’re in store. Macy’s is planning to ‘close the gap between store, desktop and mobile,’ and their strategy for doing so relies heavily on mobile.

Useful Infographics about Cross-Channel, Multi-Channel, Omni-Channel Marketing

Econsultancy Cross-Channel Marketing Report

Econsultancy Multichannel Marketing Venn Diagram
Econsultancy Multichannel Marketing Venn Diagram

Econsultancy Cross-Channel Marketing Report

 

Econsultancy Cross-channel Marketing Report
Econsultancy Cross-channel Marketing Report

6 Must-Know Tips for Omnichannel Selling [Infographic]
ReferralCandy – Refer-a-friend Programs for Ecommerce Stores

About the author:

Kunle Campbell

An ecommerce advisor to ambitious, agile online retailers and funded ecommerce startups seeking exponentially sales growth through scalable customer acquisition, retention, conversion optimisation, product/market fit optimisation and customer referrals.

Did You Enjoy Reading this Article?

Get Free Email Updates by Signing Up Below:

eCommerce Marketing Growth Hacks 

UPCOMING WEBINAR:
November 21st 4:30pm GMT / 11:30am EST
with Kunle
Campbell

Facebook Funnels for Ecommerce that CONVERT

Register now

2X eCommerce Podcast

Kunle interviews Founders of Fast Growing 7-8 Figure Online Retail Business & E-commerce Marketing Experts

View podcasts

Download your free ebook

More

The eCommerce Marketing Blueprint