The Future of Ecommerce: Omni-channel at the Core

Retail mega-giant Amazon turns 25 years in 2019. Dominating 37% of the ecommerce market, latest projections estimate the ecommerce giant will be responsible for half of all online sales within three years. Despite this impressive number, both Amazon ecommerce and are still in their infancy. With its futuristic advances such as two-hour delivery and a new drone service, long-term success starts with knowing the fundamental market opportunities and potential points of friction. At the core is omni-channel retailing.

Omni-channel retailing, or omnichannel, is a fully-integrated approach to commerce that provides shoppers a unified experience across online and offline channels. True omni-channel shopping extends from brick-and-mortar locations to mobile-browsing, ecommerce marketplaces, onsite storefronts, social media, retargeting, and everything in between. To be everywhere is the key in omni-channeling.

How Omni-Channel Shopping Could Be

Each obstacle stems from management practices that were born and developed around tools built in a previous era of commerce. Their primary obstacles with delivering great omni-channel experiences include lack of internal organization, lack of customer analytics across channels, siloed organization, poor data quality and last, but not least, the inability to identify customers across shopping trips.

Omni-channel is about providing consistent, yet unique and contextual brand experiences across multiple customer-aware touchpoints, including brick and mortar, marketplaces, web, mobile and social. Using that definition as a guiding philosophy, here is what a typical omni-channel customer experience might look:

A customer discovers and buys from your brand through Amazon. They receive a tailored-for-Amazon unboxing experience, with inserts that promote (your) inventory not found on Amazon. Also included will be a discount, information about your loyalty program, your retail experiences and a URL to a dedicated collection page on your online store.

After the second purchase, the customer receives an email notifying them of a nearby retail storefront or event as well as the option to ship to store. Follow-up emails serve as reminders of your brand and encourage the customer to check out new looks on Pinterest or tagging your brand on Instagram. Promote your loyalty program which adds bonus points for following on different social media channels. Before your next pop-up, send loyal customers a link to a private collection. Encourage them to buy from their phones and are notify customers of an exclusive, members-only VIP lounge.

Regardless of what you sell online, it’s easy to see how this basic omni-channel user journey uses information about one sales channel and invites them to participate in another way consumers are not aware of.