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The role of digital channels in the omnichannel store

Defining digital channels and how to make the most of them

Omnichannel retailing is all about creating a cohesive shopping experience for customers, whether they are shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, via an app, or in a brick-and-mortar store.

But what exactly are the components that make up an effective omnichannel store?

For many retailers that have nailed down the in-store experience, their omnichannel strategy focuses on the digital channels their customers go through.

In this blog, we will explore the essential elements of digital channels and their roles in the omnichannel store.

What are digital channels?

Digital channels are platforms that enable interactions and transactions over the internet. They are crucial in the omnichannel landscape as they provide customers with multiple touch points, ensuring a cohesive experience across various mediums.

Some examples of digital channels include:

  • E-commerce websites: Online stores where customers can browse and buy products.
  • Mobile apps: Dedicated applications offering a tailored shopping experience on mobile devices.
  • Social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest, which can be used for marketing and direct sales.
  • Email marketing: Sending personalized offers and newsletters to engage customers.
  • Chatbots and messaging apps: Automated and live chats on websites, apps, or even SMS for customer support and engagement.

Features of digital sales channels

The features of digital sales channels include:

  • Accessibility: Available 24/7, allowing customers to shop at their convenience.
  • Personalization: Use of data analytics to offer tailored recommendations and promotions.
  • Wide reach: Potential to reach a global audience, broadening market presence.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Lower overhead costs compared to physical stores.
  • Integrated marketing: Seamless integration with digital marketing strategies like SEO, PPC, and social media ads.

Drawbacks of digital sales channels, and how to get around them

Some of the drawbacks of digital sales channels include:

  • Lack of personal touch: Digital interactions can sometimes feel impersonal compared to face-to-face interactions in physical stores.
  • Security concerns: Online transactions can expose customers to risks like data breaches and fraud.
  • Technical issues: Website downtimes, slow loading times, and app crashes can disrupt the shopping experience.
  • Intense competition: High competition in the digital space can make it challenging to stand out.
  • Returns and exchanges: Handling returns and exchanges can be more complex and costly compared to in-store processes.

Here are several strategies retailers are using to overcome common challenges:

  • Lack of Personal Touch: Retailers are equipping sales associates with integrated omnichannel communication tools through in-store technology, like clienteling applications. This allows for systematic (and measurable) outreach to customers via their preferred channels, be it email, SMS, or social messaging platforms like WhatsApp.
  • Security Concerns: When customers communicate with associates through direct channels such as SMS, they can receive secure payment links to make purchases directly, even when not in-store, giving customers and retailers greater peace of mind.
  • Technical Issues: Connectivity and website errors are unavoidable but don’t need to be a major inconvenience. Providing customers with direct access to sales associates via text, phone, or video chat offers an additional layer of support. This ensures that even if the website is down or their internet crashes, customers can continue their shopping journey with an associate’s guidance.
  • Intense Competition: Nearly three-quarters of shoppers say customer experience is more important than price and product quality when making purchasing decisions. Retailers should, therefore, focus on perfecting their customer experience (CX) to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
  • Returns and Exchanges: Retailers are adopting next-generation POS systems with advanced fulfillment capabilities, such as BORIS (buy-online-return-in-store), to streamline the process of accepting returns and exchanges, regardless of their original purchasing channel.

Bringing it all together

Embracing an omnichannel approach means integrating digital channels with physical store operations to create a unified and efficient customer journey.

By understanding digital channels and leveraging technology to ensure they’re running smoothly, retailers can enhance customer satisfaction, increase sales, and stay ahead in the competitive retail landscape.

Learn more

To learn more about the omnichannel solutions that the world’s most iconic retailers like David Yurman, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Mulberry, Saks Fifth Avenue, Ferragamo, COACH, and Michael Kors love, contact us today for a demo!

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