Among fraud, data and machine learning, and cross-border ecommerce, industry leaders at the CNP EXPO 2016 stressed the significant difference that an omnichannel strategy makes on businesses, and its impact on today’s ecommerce sector.
Omnichannel has been listed as one of the main trending topics for a couple of years, and as pointed out by DJ Murphy, editor-in-chief of CNP.com, “omnichannel is a point of confusion among merchants”. Most merchants entirely agree with the imperative necessity to adopt an omnichannel approach, however, very few have the correct knowledge for a proper implementation.
What does omnichannel essentially mean?
Taking a careful look at the definition, the word omni originates from the Latin word omnis, which means all. So, the proper meaning of omnichannel is in all places, on all channels.
For the retail industry, omnichannel gives merchants the opportunity to interact with customers through a great variety of channels such as in-store, online, mobile and social, while providing a seamless shopping experience. The confusion stays mainly in how many channels does one merchant need to focus on. And the steps to achieving a relevant omnichannel strategy.
To answer it, we looked at the consumer demands and the main opportunities of omnichannel.
Consumer demands in an omnichannel era
The advent of smartphones has produced a market shift from mainly in-store to mobile app purchases. In addition, other studies discovered that another change in consumer behavior is the tendency to search online but make the final purchase decision in-store. This transition has triggered consumers to have more sophisticated demands, forcing retailers to offer integrated shopping options (e.g. buy online collect in-store) before they were even prepared to adopt a complex strategy like omnichannel.
Recent omnichannel research revealed that by implementing an omnichannel approach merchants are becoming truly customer-centric, handing over control to their consumers and offering them a retail experience that is in line with their preferences. Embracing an omnichannel approach has a variety of implications for merchants such as integrating all the platforms of interaction with customers to one centralized point, adding more payment options and linking them with each other, and using their knowledge about their payment options to make the experience more efficient.
Main omnichannel opportunities for web merchants
Specialists from leading brands worldwide emphasized the opportunities that omnichannel brings to businesses. First of all, the opportunity to collect high-quality data measuring customers’ behavior patterns and secondly, becoming a data-driven omnichannel player, by aligning both online and offline environments. Only after analyzing this valuable data can merchants choose the right channels to strategically target consumers. Not using the complete data means many merchants lose out on achieving a correct, strong omnichannel strategy.
However, many businesses are challenged with the difficult decision of implementing an omnichannel strategy in-house or collaborating with external organizations that provide support for executing such a complicated process. For example, as Moma Chakraborty from eBay stressed, analyzing the huge volume of data can be a long, costly process and merchants may not have the resources to support it. They can choose between hiring a machine learning model or an in-house specialist, depending on the needs and the size of the data gathered.
With the help of the omnichannel strategy, merchants have the opportunity to expand their business worldwide and target a larger number of consumers from different parts of the world. Merchants are advised to work with local cross-border ecommerce experts who have a profound understanding of the local culture, the regulatory and political landscape.
All in all, omnichannel and related services bring opportunities to the market and valuable insights to businesses, especially from a payment perspective. Within such a large range of opportunities, merchants need clear business goals and clarity about what they want to accomplish as an omnichannel organization. Together with a complete data analysis, this is the starting point for a correct and relevant omnichannel strategy.