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In today’s digital world, shopping isn’t limited to one single channel. Most people tend to make purchases across several channels, including online stores, bricks-and-mortar retail sites and marketplaces, like Amazon.

Omni-channel retailing is simply defined as a multi-channel sales approach, where each channel works together. Omni-channel retailing recognises the need for cross-channel marketing and creating a seamless multi-channel experience that shoppers can use to seamlessly transition from online browsing to shopping instore and vice versa.

What are omni-channel shoppers?

Think about your own shopping habits. If you are a Millennial, research shows that you are more likely than any other generation to shop using a variety of shopping channels. You might research a leather bag online via a brand’s website, check reviews on an online Marketplace and then go in store to visit the retailer and make the purchase.

It’s unlikely that you would use a single channel – in store, for example – to complete the entire shopping cycle from research to completed transaction.

Omni-channel retailing is a necessity for larger retailers on the high street. Why? Retail stores are experiencing a huge decline in traffic. In the run up to Christmas 2016, UK high streets experienced the quietest December since records began. During the same period, online sales reached a record high.

Why is omni-channel selling so important?

As the statistics above show, unless there’s a huge change in the way we shop, a retail-only approach won’t cut it anymore. Businesses need to embrace additional shopping channels and ensure they are integrated and capable of offering the customer a seamless experience.

Multi-channel isn’t the same thing as omni-channel; there is an important distinction between the two. A company might have an active social media campaign, company website and an incredible email marketing campaign, but if they are not synched and working in harmony, they are not omni-channel.

Only when all channels work together to offer the customer a fully integrated shopping experience can a brand claim to offer a truly omni-channel experience.

Are omni-channel shoppers more valuable to retailers?

Research has shown that omni-channel shoppers do spend more than their single-channel counterparts.

According to a study by the Harvard Business Review:

  • Omni-channel shoppers spent an average of 4% more on every shopping occasion in the store and 10% more online than single-channel customers.
  • Customers who used four or more channels spent an average of 9% more in the store when compared to those who used just one channel.

So, do you omni-care now?

The more channels customers use, the more valuable they are in monetary terms. With so many channels to choose from, it’s time to harness their capabilities and synchronise the physical and digital worlds for your customers. The result will be a well-rounded experience that an online-only rival will be unable to compete with.

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