For Business

5 omnichannel trends to help grow your ecommerce business

Tips to help you leverage emerging trends to grow your online business.

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Despite a few gloomy post-pandemic scenarios, online shopping is continuing to grow. Forrester predicts US online retail spending will reach $1.6 trillion by 2027. How can you potentially get a sizable piece of that consumer spending pie? Many businesses find increased success with a more omnichannel approach to their marketing and sales strategies.

Omnichannel marketing involves creating a seamless, consistent, customer-centric experience across all of your marketing channels, both physically and digitally. McKinsey research shows that omnichannel customers shop 1.7 times more than single-channel shoppers.

As the number of devices, platforms, and channels continues to grow worldwide, it’s critical for brands to engage customers with a unified sales, marketing, and discovery experience wherever and however they choose to interact. According to Statista, smartphones now account for more than 74% of retail site traffic worldwide — and generate 63% of all online shopping orders.

“Many retailers and brands are still challenged to move from relationships based on a series of disconnected and disparate interactions to a connected experience that goes from store to ecommerce platform to loyalty program and back again,” as EY’s Kathy Gramling put it. “An omnichannel strategy starts by linking back-office operations, such as digital tech stack and inventory management, to front-office functions to build connections between each touch point with the consumer, no matter the channel. That’s when you find your way into the hearts and minds of a consumer who’s required to be particular about where they spend their dollar.”

For larger brands, omnichannel strategies now include innovations like curbside pickup and digital check-ins that put customer experience first and break down the silos between online and in-store. Technologies like interactive, guided selling tools and virtual shopping assistants are on the rise, as well as cutting-edge Augmented Reality (AR) shopping tools like Amazon’s own Virtual Try-on Shoes. And of course, AI, machine learning, and automation are helping omnichannel retailers with everything from inventory management to customer service.

But there are plenty of omnichannel trends that small- and mid-size ecommerce merchants can embrace to fuel growth. Expanding into cross-channel sales and omnichannel marketing with a unified, connected shopping experience across multiple platforms can help future-proof your business. Here are a few key trends to be aware of as you expand your business.

Omni-Trend #1: Social selling, especially through video-based channels

As many as 48% of consumers surveyed by Jungle Scout are now likely to make a purchase directly from TikTok. Social commerce has exploded — and will only continue to grow worldwide — with sales expected to reach roughly $2.9 trillion by 2026. In fact, over the next two years, Accenture predicts social commerce to grow three times as fast as traditional ecommerce.

Social selling through video content and direct, on-camera live streaming has never been more popular, with technology that allows brands to monitor the impact of those video and live sales across multiple platforms.

Demand for video content is at an all-time high, with as many as 91% of surveyed consumers saying they want to see more video from brands — and 92% of surveyed marketers saying video has resulted in good ROI. Short-form video in particular is winning the battle for engagement, and increasingly, Gen Z is turning to TikTok or Instagram for search over Google.

“Social commerce is a leveling force that is driven by the creativity, ingenuity and power of people. It empowers smaller brands and individuals and makes big brands reevaluate their relevance for a marketplace of millions of individuals,” writes Accenture’s Oliver Wright. “Getting social commerce right will require creators, resellers and brands to bring their products and services where the consumer is, and will be, rather than the other way around.

“It means working together within a dynamic ecosystem of platforms, marketplaces, social media and influencers to share data, insights and capabilities to deliver the right incentives and best consumer experience across an integrated digital marketplace,” noted Wright.

Omni-Trend #2: “Click and mortar” showrooms and pop-ups

Even if you’re a purely digital ecommerce business, it might be time to consider getting physical, if only temporarily. Customers love to test out products before they buy. And creative, inspiring, and entertaining experiential retail spaces will soon become the norm.

With the price of online advertising going up as commercial rents fall, the allure of going fully omnichannel with both physical and digital brand presences has never been more appealing.

The concept of Phygital is gaining momentum as more brands seek to expand sales channels and tap back into customers’ desire to touch and feel products before purchasing. According to findings from RetailNext, “84% of consumers believe retailers should be doing more to integrate their online and offline channels.”

As an added bonus, researchers at the National Retail Federation have discovered that offering in-person-experiences can also help reduce your return rates.

Omni-Trend #3: Hyper-personalization

Knowing your customers wants and needs, as well as who they are and how they shop, has never been more valuable. Using your customer data and optimizing your user experience to identify ways to speak directly to specific types of customers across platforms can have an outsized effect. In 2021, 60% of surveyed consumers said they’re likely to become repeat buyers after a personalized shopping experience with a retailer.

As a 2022 PwC customer loyalty survey put it, customers are increasingly less loyal to companies when they don’t get the personalized experience they seek. Brands need to outperform on customer experience, says PwC, to inspire their trust and loyalty by delivering seamless one-on-one experiences that transition effortlessly from mobile to online to in-person.

According to McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions — and 76% get frustrated when they don’t. The study also shows that companies that excel at personalization generate 40% more revenue from those activities than average companies.

“Players who are leaders in personalization achieve outcomes by tailoring offerings and outreach to the right individual at the right moment with the right experiences,” McKinsey analysts conclude.

Omni-Trend #4: Multi-channel attribution

When you embrace omnichannel marketing strategies across multiple platforms and channels, it’s critical to track how those efforts are performing and ultimately contributing to sales. Getting dialed in with accurate data and analytics and understanding your sales drivers are the foundations of any good omnichannel approach.

Sourcing your conversions through each channel and touchpoint to the final sale can give you valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t — and how you can make your omnichannel customer journey even more effective.

Omni-Trend #5: Frictionless customer experience

As EY’s 2023 Future of Retail report put it, the future of retail may be centered around an experience so seamless and friction-free, it’s nearly invisible.

In the omnichannel era, consumers no longer have patience for bad customer service, complicated checkout flows, long delivery times, unexpected shipping fees, or lackluster return policies. In fact, 76% of consumers surveyed by Invoca say they would stop doing business with a company after just one bad customer experience. On the flip side, according to a 2022 Forrester study, even minor improvements to a brand’s customer experience quality can add tens of millions of dollars of revenue by reducing customer churn and increasing share of wallet.=

To put it bluntly, 70% of global consumers surveyed by Wunderman Thompson say they want a shopping experience with the same kinds of benefits and services as the Prime shopping experience. When you add Buy with Prime on your ecommerce website, you can attract shoppers with the trust of Prime.

Buy with Prime has been shown to increase conversions by an average of 25%*. Here are just a few of the many ways Buy with Prime can help your ecommerce business drive omnichannel sales:

  • Offer Prime members a fast, familiar way to check out from your site using the shipping and payment information stored in their Amazon account, helping to reduce some of the buyer friction that can lead to abandoned carts.
  • Help increase shopper conversion with 1-2 day shipping and transparent delivery times.
  • Your customers’ return experience is automated from the time they submit a return request until they get their refund.

When you’re ready to enhance your omnichannel strategies with Buy with Prime, be sure to check out our Springboard blog for expert tips and advice. And if you’re just getting started with Buy with Prime, find everything you need here.

*This data point measures the average increase in shoppers who placed an order when Buy with Prime was an available purchase option versus when it was not, during the same time period.

Chris Redhead