virtual marketplace

For a while now, the term “omnichannel” has been a trending within the retail industry, usually referring to the Next Big Thing. It's actually more appropriate to refer to the fintech term as the Big Thing, Now!  Consumers anticipate, and in some cases, expect omnichannel capabilities, rather than something they have to look forward too, like flying cars. The Next Big Thing has become the new norm.

Omnichannel, which is using multiple channels in a consistent and seamless way to engage customers through the devices that frame client interactions, is all about having a global view of your stock and being able to sell to customers in any location from any location.

Essentially this means that any customer purchasing something from your website should be able to do so as long as the item is available somewhere in the world, either in a store or a warehouse. For brick and mortar retailers, you should be able to get an out-of-stock item for a customer shipped to her home or a closer store to her. Failing to fulfill these orders could be viewed as bad customer service, and also severely limits your business’ scope. Limiting your market results in limited sales.

Customers shop wherever and whenever it is most convenient for them at that particular moment in time. While some still travel to brick and mortar stores, free and reduced shipping along with everyday discounted merchandise has made shopping online more attractive. Regardless of which shopping medium they choose, your customers will expect the same experience they know and love from you. When you look at your brick and mortar vs. online businesses from an omnichannel perspective, you can help to ensure this is what they get. Keeping your branding consistent – from colors to logos to pricing – will create a familiar space for your customer, whether she is traditionally an online or in-person shopper.

Bonus - omnichannel customers tend to spend more money, so it benefits you to create that consistent experience for, making both your brick and mortar store and online shops as attractive as possible, with a cohesive look and message.

Merchants should keep in mind that the best omnichannel organization recognizes that ensuring data is shared and coordinating these branding efforts throughout the entire company, from the top executive to the store employees. This comprehensive feedback loop helps to ensure consistency and that customer feedback figures into any strategic decisions

Omnichannel is not going anywhere, and in fact will become even more important, as more and more devices become connected to the internet and we utilize them more frequently for everything in our daily lives, including shopping. Therefore, merchants must have a clear understanding of all channels a customer can and will use, and understand that there are no hard and fast lines anymore between online, in-store, social, mobile or catalog shopping – the lines are all blurred, with one experience flowing into another, smoothly and without incident. Customers expect it in today’s marketplace environment, and the smart organizations will deliver.

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