The importance of omnichannel operations is well established, and that is driving customer expectations higher than ever. In 2020, Gartner estimated that 60% of B2C brands will move toward a functional, effectively channel-less organizational approach by 2025, up from just 30% mid-pandemic. We are now approaching that year, and omnichannel seems bigger than ever, yet only 11% of companies believe they have a sophisticated implementation of the necessary technology.
With developing technologies like AR and chatbots turning the e-commerce experience into an ever-evolving playground, it becomes easy to forget that the brick-and-mortar side of omnichannel is just as important. However, 85% of sales still take place in stores, according to CB Insights, which means retailers need to seriously think about how their latest innovations can improve not just the experience on their website, but the wider customer journey.
Proof of this can be seen in Coresight Research’s study, which found that current mall traffic actually surpasses pre-Covid levels. Recent traffic growth was partially attributed to retailers using malls as locations that blur the line between channels by using them to handle online return drop-offs and as alternative pickup locations to speed up e-commerce orders.
Retailers also need to remember that the omnichannel experience doesn’t end after a purchase. Research has found that companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement retain 89% of customers on average, compared to just 33% for retailers with weaker omnichannel customer engagement, according to Mindy Support. A key element of good omnichannel customer service is letting shoppers retain the same representative across multiple channels, which can be complicated when designing support across in-person, digital, and phone options.
Some companies are already embracing the potential of omnichannel in ways that both enhance and enable benefits beyond convenient ways for shoppers to handle research and purchasing. For instance, Hy-Vee recently expanded its retail media network across all channels and will now let its brand partners reach customers wherever they want to be seen. This could potentially boost sales and bring in more ad revenue for the grocer while creating new experiences for shoppers.
The key to the future of omnichannel will likely be creativity. Truly omnichannel shoppers engage with retailers across multiple channels during each journey — 48% of global consumers get inspiration for purchases when they are online, according to Google. Breaking down the barriers between research and purchase, no matter where these steps take place, will be essential to retail success in the coming years.