Millennials’ decades in the spotlight are coming to a close in the U.S. Gen Z is the new segment for rising brands and apps to capture loyalty. And Gen Z, unlike their millennial counterparts, differ from their U.S. consumer predecessors.
The ability to touch and try on a product before purchase is less and less of a concern. Instead, brand coverage, social media presence and overall lifestyle affinity wins Gen Z from their one-click purchase on Amazon or through the newest drop app.
What’s more is that they influencer how their older generations shop, too. According to Daniel Sperling-Horowitz, President at Zentail:
With a pulse on popular culture and propensity to engage with brands on social platforms, Gen Z are proving to be important influencers of purchasing decisions by older generation family members. Put another way; parents and grandparents value the input of their in-the-know Gen Z children.
But those aren’t the only differences. Though the numbers in this report may be slight, Gen Z is moving toward complete comfort with ecommerce – engaging with more ads, buying on newer platforms, spending more discretionary income and ultimately putting their money where a brand’s personality is.
Gen Z: 18-21
Gen X: 38-53
Baby Boomers: 54-72
The Omni-Channel Retail Consumer Shopping Report Background
The following data showcases how U.S. consumers shop by generation and across multiple channels.
This omni-channel retailing study was conducted by BigCommerce with nearly 3,000 consumers surveyed.
Multi-channel retailing means a company sells in multiple online channels (e.g. a web store, marketplaces, and social media). Omni-channel refers to retailers with both a physical and digital presence.
It is a modern approach to commerce that focuses on designing a cohesive user experience for customers at every touchpoint. This differs from traditional marketing, where individual channels were optimized without necessarily taking the whole experience into mind.
That’s one textbook definition. Here’s how other marketing leaders define omni-channel:
Square defines it as: “Meeting people on the channels where they are shopping and buying, whether it’s in a physical store or an online store or on social media, and connecting the dots between those channels. The purpose is to keep customers moving around within the brand ecosystem, with each channel working in harmony to nurture more sales and engagement.”
Hubspot defines it as: “the ability to deliver a seamless and consistent experience across channels, while factoring in the different devices that consumers are using to interact with your business.”
Google defines it as: “ensuring [retailer] marketing strategies are geared toward enabling customers to convert on any channel.”
At BigCommerce, we internally define it as: “Stores selling both online and offline — likely also selling through multiple online channels (i.e. on Amazon, eBay, Facebook, B2B). We’ve also been referencing the importance of listing your product wherever consumers are already spending their time. This is increasingly known as contextual commerce, a more strategic take on the overarching omni-channel term.”
Typically, omni-channel retailers aren’t startups. They also aren’t web-only shops, which means they have the capital to put some feet on the ground. That much is clear.
What isn’t, is the idea of seamlessness and retailer sophistication. From that perspective, few retailers today are successfully executing on all of their omni-channel initiatives.
This is because with the momentum toward integrating commerce across channels, there’s one big piece of the puzzle missing: what the consumer wants. Many retailers are just guessing.
Sure, they have proprietary data on how consumers are using their own channels, but ‘omni’ has Latin roots in the omniscient realm, meaning perceiving all things — not just what is happening on your own channel.
Omni-channel marketing, then, becomes more about providing an experience — the omni-channel customer experience — transcending any one medium and simply providing shoppers what they want, when they want.
To date, no one has decoded exactly how, when and why the modern American makes a purchase.
What we do know though is that nobody today shops exclusively through a single medium. Consumers of all generations buy online, in store and on marketplaces, from legacy retailers and independent brands alike.
One consequence of this — albeit a happy one — is that cash flows in from different sources and different devices. That understanding has been crucial to the development of Square for click-and-mortar businesses, including its POS integration with BigCommerce.
With this in mind, we’ve launched a new study analyzing modern, omni-channel consumer behavior. This data uncovers the details on how, when, where and why Americans buy, educating the entire commerce industry on today’s consumer shopping preferences.
You’ll see the results of our study in the following chapters and gain insight into:
How Americans shop across an omni-channel environment: what they buy, how much they spend and what’s stopping them from checking out more often.
How various American generations shop in comparison to one another, which channels they use, which payment options they prefer and more.
How to increase conversion rates on all your selling channels
The ins and outs of your audience and their motivation for purchasing
This is what retailers need to know to implement a data-driven, omni-channel strategy today.
First, a quick note from the editor
This information only tells you what the customer is doing. The fundamental mistake to avoid is assuming that we’re actually asking the customer, “What do you want?”
If you ask a question like this, you can’t be surprised by what you’ll hear: solutions and convenience. And requests for solutions will almost always be disappointing for companies that are trying to innovate.
According to Harvard Business Review:
“Customers only know what they have experienced. They cannot imagine what they don’t know about emergent technologies, new materials, and the like. What customer, for example, would have asked for the microwave oven, Velcro or Post-It Notes? At the time the transistor was being developed, radio and television manufacturers were still requesting improved vacuum tubes.”
We offer these survey results as important data in furthering the understanding of the modern consumer, which can then be used to distill the omni-channel customer experience down to recognizable touchpoints.
Providing this experience permeates every aspect of your organization, from inventory management to multi-channel marketing campaigns. What innovations occur next is up to the retailers.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the data.
Here is how the pendulum is beginning to swing as Millennials take prime adult stage and Gen Z reaches college.
Where Consumers Shop Online
Gen Z spends 2X-3X more shopping on social channels than the average consumer, with Instagram and Snapchat shopping taking the lead. Gen X skews toward a Facebook shopping preference.
Only 9.6% of Gen Z reports buying items in a physical store –– considerably less than their older generations (Millennials at 31.04%, Gen X at 27.5%, and Baby Boomers at 31.9% respectively).
Gen Z also spends little on products they find from Facebook –– 11.8% compared to Millennials at 29.39%, Gen X at 34.21% and Baby Boomers at 24.56%.
Both Millennials and Gen Z spend the majority of their shopping dollars on products they find on Instagram and Snapchat.
In all, U.S. consumers across the board shop across all channels.
Different Generations. Different Expectations.
There is a very diverse split in how different generations view shopping today, both offline and online.
I have found that with the older side of the millennial group, people are still far more fond of traditional brick and mortar shopping. Conversely, the younger part of the same group would almost always choose to shop online instead.
Above the millennial demographic, I have found that shoppers prize convenience over everything else – the ability to not only shop and have the product delivered, but also have a convenient ongoing relationship with their favorite brands such as when a store knows that a repeat shopper returns every few months to refill a previous purchase.
A great example is the pet food/products industry and many top brands leverage scheduled ordering so that the customer doesn’t even have to think about what to buy again. It simply shows up at their door, the same time every month or few months.
– Anthony Capetola, Marketing Manager, Sales & Orders
Why U.S. Consumers Shop Where They Shop
The top three buying destinations for consumers are Amazon, branded ecommerce websites and brick-and-mortar stores. But consumer reasoning for why they buy at each of these channels differs –– by channel and by generation.
Gen Z in particular relies more on product recommendations, seeing ads on social media more often, and they visit a brand’s social channels 2X more than the average American consumer.
Why Consumers Buy on Branded Websites
Convenience, price, and free shipping were the top 3 reasons U.S. consumers across all generations chose to buy an item at a branded online store.
Brand reputation and loyalty rewards were close 4th and 5th reasons.
The Table Stakes Are Increasing
Millennials have grown accustomed to speed, convenience and a personalized online experience. However, Gen Z has never known shopping without these.
They’re more brand agnostic and very wary of brand promises, therefore to win them over it’s extremely important to personalize their on-site experience and acknowledge their individuality.
– Erik Christiansen, CEO & Co-Founder, Justuno
Why Consumers Buy on Amazon
Convenience and price were the top two reasons U.S. consumers of all generations chose to buy an item on Amazon. Ease of shipping was the third most cited reason, though convenience and price ranked at least 2X higher as a reason for shopping on Amazon for all U.S. consumers.
Surprisingly, younger generations report shopping on Amazon only for Prime Day in higher numbers (though the percentages remain small).
Gen Z: 5%
Gen X: 3.1%
Baby Boomers: 1.9%
Amazon as Lifestyle, Social Media as Downtime
The biggest generational consumer shopping difference I see is that younger demographics are more inclined to shop and purchase on mobile.
These shoppers are used to the Amazon Prime lifestyle of convenience and delivery speed.
They tend to spend their “found time” on their mobile devices in between classes, commuting, or while binge watching their favorite show.
– Jessica Lago, Manager of Marketing & Partnerships, iMedia inc.
Why Consumers Buy In-Store
The ability to touch or try on an item before purchase is the #1 reason U.S. consumers shop at brick-and-mortar stores across all generations. However, nearly 2X more Baby Boomers cite this as a reason in comparison to Gen Z.
Here is how it breaks down:
Gen Z: 27.88%
Gen X: 40%
Baby Boomers: 45.44%
Gen Z and Millennials both also cite price as a large reason for shopping in-store. And Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X all cite speed and convenience as important factors for shopping in-store.
Don’t Abandon Brick-and-Mortar
Almost 70% of Millennials are shopping online, but that doesn’t necessarily mean businesses should abandon brick and mortar. Americans are still split 50/50 on whether they prefer online shopping versus in-store shopping, with in-store being the dominant channel for Boomers and Seniors.
– Nick Raushenbush, Co-founder, Shogun
Shifting Online Shopping Challenges
Historically, not being able to try an item before buying it has been a big impediment to online shopping. In addition, entering detailed shipping and payment information has long ranked high as one of the most annoying aspects of online shopping.
As Gen Z matures, we see product wait time and shipping costs as the main impediments to a happy online shopping experience.
For Millennials (26.16%), Gen X (32.28%) and Baby Boomers (31.91%), not being able to touch or try on a product remains the #1 online shopping inconvenience. Only 18.4% of Gen Zers ranked this as a top issue.
For Gen Z, waiting for the product after purchasing is the #1 issue (19.37%). Paying for shipping costs is the second biggest dislike for all U.S. consumers across generations (18.5%, 26%, 32.3%, 31% respectively).
Site security concerns are top of mind most for Gen Z (9.91%) and Baby Boomers (9%).
Inconvenience Has Various Definitions
In the regions we service (larger metro areas), we see younger consumers being averse to any shopping behavior that puts a burden on their time. They’re interested in easy ordering, fast delivery, and easier returns.
Older consumers seem more willing and comfortable using digital channels for research and information gathering that leads to an in person purchase through a pop up, branded retail store, or retailer.
– Jordan Brannon, President, Coalition Technologies
Online Shopping Payment Options Abound
Credit cards still reign as the primary payment method for larger online purchases. However, when breaking down payment options by generation, we see mobile wallets taking off for younger generations.
Mobile wallets are used 2X more often by Millennials and Gen Z than Gen X or Baby Boomers. Here is how it breaks down:
Gen Z: 10.4%
Gen X: 5.62%
Baby Boomers: 2.3%
Perceptions Matter: Fast vs. Secure
The ways in which each generation leverages mobile when shopping is the most interesting difference across demographics. Younger demographics seem to have little or no fear around the idea of buying from a new brand using Venmo or Square Cash.
It’s become a common trend amongst up and coming brands that are launching directly on Instagram and is an experience that younger demographics don’t find strange, untrustworthy or unsafe.
Older generations on the other-hand are still looking for a more traditional and secure experience when buying. There’s little to no appetite for one-to-one transactions unless there’s a middle man (ie. Etsy/Ebay) as they prefer buying from an ecommerce experience that feels more traditional and secure.
– Ross Simmonds, Digital Strategist, Foundation Marketing
Financing Finds an Online Heyday
Financing options like Klarna, AfterPay and PayPal Credit are gaining more and more online steam.
In fall 2018, Klarna earned a $20M investment from H&M to expand services and better integrate with the site. The following data makes clear why.
Gen Z is increasingly ready to use financing options (buy now, pay later). Baby Boomers are the only generation have more than 50% report not wanting to use online financing (70.6%).
Payment Expectations Are Changing - Fast
Payments is a good example of something that’s changed in recent times. Younger consumers expect to be able to pay in interest free installments or post-delivery (via services like Klarna) and use things like Apple Pay or Android Pay when on mobile for added convenience.
– Paul Rogers, Vervaunt
The data on this one is nearly flipped for Gen Z and Millennials –– and their Baby Boomer counterparts.
Baby Boomers report that they plain wouldn’t have made a purchase online without financing (indicating a higher price point) at 47.59% compared to 22.13% for Gen Z, 25% for Millennials and 33.9% for Gen X.
Conversely, Gen Z and Millennials report buying something more expensive than they were originally considering when financing was an option, at 41% and 44.12% respectively. Only 21.39% of Baby Boomers said the same, as did 31.79% of Gen X.
Bargains Matter – as Does Their Timing
If you’re dealing with millennial audience, know that that generation of buyers is increasingly looking for a bargain. If you’re not doing some sort of promo, you’re facing an uphill battle. Always use promo captures on the site, welcome popups that capture an email address, and make sure you’re getting the email address at checkout.
– Kevin Simonson, CEO/Co-Founder, Metric Digital
Expected Returns Increase by Generation
Gen Z is the most likely generation to report expecting to return more than 75% of the goods they buy online. Millennials expect to return 50%, with Gen X and Baby Boomers expected to return less than 50%.
Only 4% of Gen Z reports expecting to return more than 75% of the items they buy online, but that 4% is 3X higher than their other generational counterparts.
On average, all generations expect to return up to 25% of the goods they buy online.
Large Multi-Channel Retailers Are Winning at Returns
I think the biggest shift in consumer expectations over the last year or two is around things like integrated stock visibility, returns and overall fulfilment – with larger multi-channel retailers creating an expectation and setting a precedent.
This same expectation applies to things like multi-channel loyalty and gift card usage, as well – which also represents an opportunity for brands to increase loyalty (via a positive, integrated experience) and lifetime spend (via upsells and physically showcasing additional items).
– Paul Rogers, Vervaunt
The data on this one seems to indicate that Gen Z and Millennials are more price sensitive (and perhaps better bargain hunters) than Gen X or Baby Boomers. Here is how finding a more affordable product somewhere else came in to the equation when returning a product online:
Gen Z: 7.6%
Gen X: 3.31%
Baby Boomers: 1.74%
In addition, Gen Z and Millennials are 2X more likely to return an item because it arrived too late and they ultimately had to buy something else in-store. Here is how this one broke out:
Gen Z: 8.57%
Gen X: 2.34%
Baby Boomers: 2.61%
Finally, Gen Z is 2X more likely than Millennials and Gen X, and 6X more likely than Baby Boomers to order multiple items with the intention of making returns.
Returns Are Part of the Customer Experience
It doesn’t end after the consumer has clicked buy. How long fulfillment takes, how smooth shipping was, the feeling when the consumer opens the box, how you deal with returns – all of that is part of the buyer journey and leads to repeat purchases and word of mouth if done well.
– Laura Behrens Wu, CEO, Shippo
The Brick-and-Mortar Benefit Returns
The vast majority of online purchase returns will be sent back via mail, however returning items to a brick-and-mortar or to an Amazon drop off location are quickly rising options across all generations.
Nearly 2X more Gen Zers (21.7%) expect to return an item at an Amazon Drop Off versus Baby Boomers (12.13%).
The End-to-End Experience Matters
Buyers care about the entire shopping experience, so make sure to focus on more than just price. Things like convenience, selection, shipping times, return policies, all have an impact on the buyer.
Now that it is as easy as the click of the button for a buyer to jump from one site to another, brands need to make sure that they are offering the full package.
– Jeff Dyksen, President, Diztinct
Specifically when it comes to returning items in store, at least 30% of all generations expect to shop in the store upon visiting for the return.
Online is Complementary to In-Store, and Vice Versa
With a retail store, you will see older and younger customers browse online and come into a retail store to touch, feel and purchase depending upon the product.
Having an ecommerce shop complements offline businesses.
Our merchants see not only an increase in online sales but also an increase in offline retail sales due to customers looking at the site before coming into retail shop. It actually drives in-store shopping even if they do not purchase online.
– Frank Morrall, Visioncourse Media
Loyalty Trumps Data Collection for Younger Shoppers
As data collection becomes more regulated, most U.S. online shoppers understand what is being collected about them. In general, older generations are more aware of data collection than younger generations, specifically Gen Z.
Risk Averse Isn’t an Older Generation Issue (Only)
The most interesting observation we’ve made recently is that the youngest generation of buyers are more risk averse than average. In turn, we highlight our Unique Safety Proposition more that usual when marketing to them.
– Bryan Bowman, Founder, eCom Underground
Most consumers say they would opt out of data collection if they could.
However, in a similar study run in the UK, BigCommerce found that UK consumers by and large did not request to have companies stop collecting their data, suggesting that in theory U.S. consumers don’t want to share their data, but that convenience in doing so trumps security concerns.
Don’t Underestimate Buyers
Don’t underestimate the wallet share that a buyer will dedicate to two things; being unique amongst their peer group and convenience.
– Danny Smilie, Partner Manager, Stitch Labs
In terms of what brands could offer to persuade shoppers to share more data, Baby Boomers by-and-large say “absolutely nothing.” Younger generations are more forgiving however, and willing to exchange loyalty perks for additional data.
Gather Data. Target. Repeat.
The more timely, relevant, and targeted your strategy is the better. Retailers who are harnessing the power of all of their data to make informed decisions on which messages and products to market are winning the race to the top.
By understanding segments of your audience based on historical data you have a higher likelihood of breaking through all the noise and actually converting a browser into a buyer.
– Alicia Thomas, Senior Marketing Manager, Klaviyo
Developing Your Omni-Channel Strategy
The data in this consumer research report should anchor your omni-channel strategy. However, how you implement that strategy will key to its success.
To help you do that effectively, we’ve interviewed 37 industry experts, agencies, consultants and enterprise brand channel managers.
Here are the top areas of concern and focus according to them.
How to Implement an Omni-Channel Retail Strategy:
Capture Data, Track Conversions & Target Messaging
User Experience and Customer Experience are Priority #1
Automate to Save Your Sanity
Different Channels Means Different Devices (Including Your Feet)
Allocate the Resources, and Use Helpful Technology
Conversion is Only The First Step; Now You Must Deliver
Read through each below.
Capture Data, Track Conversions & Target Messaging
Edin Sabanovic, Senior CRO Consultant, Objeqt
In order to be able to track and attribute channels accurately, never forget to use UTMs for the landing page links you provide in your acquisition ads. Also, optimize for mobile and do not forget to use email to acquire customers. It is very cost effective and easy to track and attribute.
Kevin Simonson, CEO/Co-Founder, Metric Digital
Paid and email channels don’t have to compete against each other for sales, customers and attributions. You can grow your business by strategically integrating all these channels. The key is identifying the right audience.
It’s helpful to focus heavily on users who represent high revenue potential for your company. One audience integration profile is customers who have purchased a specific product. If you have two thousand people who have purchased this very specific product, why not build a lookalike from that? And then re-market to them?
These people are going to be qualified. And that specific product is really going to push towards finding other people who are going to also be interested in it.
Retailers often resist omnichannel selling because they want to focus entirely on their own webstore. We encourage our clients to embrace marketplaces as an advertising and customer acquisition strategy.
Once those buyers experience what makes you special, repeat buyers will come directly to you for expanded inventory options and a customized buying experience. Omnichannel marketing is a key component to ecommerce success (and world domination).
Anthony Capetola, Marketing Manager, Sales & Orders
Nothing is more important than taking a data-driven approach to omnichannel marketing. Data can be used at any stage (ie planning, execution, analysis) and is paramount in determining the true value of each channel.
Data tells you where your focus should lie and when to consider cutting back on a particular channel in favor of another that may be performing at a far more profitable return.
Brandon Kirkland, Chief Strategist, Epic Shops
Don’t waste time and money on a “shotgun” approach to OmniChannel marketing. Know your target market, where they are, and then be consistent across all those channels.
It’s very important to communicate to everyone on your team what your service/sales strategy, philosophy, and goals are.
Communicating these ideas and implementing them not only builds brand credibility, but customers feel much safer and there’s no bigger conversion killer than when a customer doesn’t feel safe.
Being in many channels may work well for your business, but only if you can measure results. Be sure to make sure that analytics is a major part of your omnichannel plans! That’s the only way you’ll be able to find the 80/20 of what is working with your marketing.
Tracking cross-channel impacts of advertising is quite challenging. Don’t try to get it perfect, use data to get trends instead. Don’t make any assumptions. Do the work to understand who your customer is (buyer persona), what they want, and how they research/buy.
Matt Gardiner, Chief Executive, ChannelUnity
Retail, especially online retail, is getting to be a more crowded place as each day passes. Be really, REALLY clear about your metrics and who your target customers are!
What is your average customer lifetime value? What is your acceptable cost of acquiring a new customer? What is your customer persona and what do they care about? Make every decision with those three things in mind.
Bryan Eisenberg, Partner Buyer Legends, Author of Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It
Focus on the buyer’s needs and journey first and then align your teams, data and systems to create a seamless and integrated customer experience. Most people do it in the reverse order and then wonder why they have experience gaps.
Nick Raushenbush, Co-founder, Shogun
Take time to sit down with your team and actually map out (1) your customer personas and (2) how these personas flow through your user acquisition channels (i.e. FB ads, Instagram, Google, etc.) and (3) where they end up buying your product (i.e. website, brick and mortar, mobile app, Amazon, etc.).
You can make it interactive by doing this on a wall in your office and using color coded post-it notes for each step of the journey.
Corey Northcutt, Founder, Northcutt
Don’t undervalue the free stuff. Search, influencer coverage, product reviews, industry directories, coupon/deal sites: they all play a subtle and interrelated role that’s tough to attribute, but that’s exactly what makes them an efficient use of spend. In economics terms, that uncertainty is what makes them an inefficient marketplace.
Most purchases require multiple marketing touches. You can verify it for your brand in the Time Lag or Path Length reports in Google Analytics. Product reviews, search results, blogger coverage, social strategy, all frequently play a shared role in a single sale.
Stewart Wesley, Head of Technology Partnerships, Yotpo
Try to avoid applying the same goals to every channel and instead consider how each channel can contribute to your strategy. You might use Amazon to acquire first time customers, a brick and mortar retailer like 7/11 to increase brand awareness, and then drive all of this traffic back to your D2C online storefront where you earn the majority of your margin. Cannibalization of sales from multiple channels is a real risk but it needs to be weighed against the benefits these channels offer.
Eric Hansen, Director of Marketing, IntuitSolutions
Continuously test and optimize for success. You never know what channel, message, time of day, or means of engagement will work best until you test it.
Casey Armstrong, CMO, ShipBob
Before entering into new channels, spend time looking into how competitors or similar brands are utilizing the channel. The intent and expectations across channels varies greatly.
For example, somebody scrolling on Instagram is very different than somebody searching for your product on Google Shopping, and the post-click expectations and costs will differ as well.
User Experience and Customer Experience are Priority #1
Steve Deckert, Co-Founder, Smile.io
Omnichannel is not just having things work technically across channels – it’s about providing an incredible experience across channels. Just because customers are functionally able to do what they need to do doesn’t mean that you’re providing an amazing customer experience across channels.
Make sure you’re emotionally connecting with customers at every opportunity.
Chloe Thomas, eCommerce Marketing Problem Solver, eCommerce MasterPlan
Speak to the customer. You can’t fully understand the journey or the problems in it if you’re not speaking to the customer to find out how they’re experiencing it. Focus groups, visit tracking software, reading feedback, actually calling them and asking them! You can’t do a good job of this if you don’t speak to them.
Alan Moore, Senior Partner, RANDEM
We mistake a buyers journey by thinking that customers want to control it. This is not the case when it comes to creating a customer/brand connection. It has to make sense to the Brand and it has to build a memorable journey that’ll stand out in the buyer’s mind especially when the online space is becoming over crowded with options.
Regardless of channel, customer experience has to be a top priority. You can have the best website or the fanciest retail location, but if the service is lacking, you’ll lose customers. Expectations are higher than ever, and modern consumers won’t tolerate less than stellar experiences.
Also, make content for buyers at all stages of the journey–customers need it! One-size-fits all doesn’t always work. Think about what materials you can deliver that will help nudge shoppers closer to the point of purchase through email, blog posts, case studies, etc.
Increasingly, consumers expect the retailers they do business with to offer a seamless omnichannel experience. The fact is consumers have endless choices of where (and how) to shop these days, and if you don’t meet their expectations and offer convenient solutions, they will find one of your competitors who will.
Nancy Badillo, Digital Marketing Specialist, Founder of Nancy Badillo
Omnichannel is a great way for brands to simplify the way they connect to customers through different marketing platforms.
In order, to become a more effective brand and still touch different people in all types of channels you have to think like a consumer. My biggest advice is to brand is make it easier not complicated.
Alexei Alankin, CEO, Eventige
Developing an omnichannel strategy is a uniquely-tailored process with customer-centric goals. The main focus should be on how your customers want to experience shopping online, and that focus should be supported by the infrastructure partners who can help to hold that customer’s experience to the highest standards.
Make sure that you have a solution with a hub and spokes that function seamlessly to allow your brand promise and image to shine across channels no matter where your customers choose to engage with you.
Most importantly, don’t assume or think you know your customers expectations and desires, but actually do the work and research to make sure that you know, and this will enrich the omnichannel experience you deliver.
Brett Owens, Marketing Director & Co-Founder, LeadDyno
Think of the buying experience from your own perspective. Years ago, you would buy in-person only. At some point you started shopping online and using sites like Amazon.
But these worlds are beginning to blend and you’re more and more likely to check out something in-person but buy it online. Or vice versa.
The key as a merchant is to be able to accommodate your customer and take their order however they want to give it.
Erik Christiansen, CEO & Co-Founder, Justuno
People are more likely to purchase when you present them with an offer that’s personalized to their needs. Studying your data and getting very granular with your audience segmentation allows you to deliver a highly-personalized on-site promotion that is more likely to convert.
Zohar Gilad, CEO & Co-Founder, InstantSearch+
Be prepared to serve your shopper whether she is in the awareness, consideration, or decision phases of the customer journey.
For example, shoppers do not know always what they would like to buy, or perhaps know and cannot verbalize it.
In addition to great visuals and superb design, brands should always have search, filters, and buy buttons ready for shoppers moving from awareness to consideration, and decision.
Mike Wittenstein, Managing Partner, StoryMiners
To make channel switching easy for customers, make sure your brand FEELS the same across all channels. And remember, buyers say they want three things: their desired outcome and an experience. What they really want is an experience that transforms them.
Luigi Moccia, Founder, Calashock
People buy from people. Be consistent, be approachable and be relevant. Smaller brands are more malleable and can adjust and innovate quicker than larger, established brands. Trends change so quickly and often that you need to constantly innovate.
Jason Greenwood, Ecommerce Manager, HealthPost NZ
Create an omni-channel experience that aligns with what your brand stands for. Stop thinking in terms of channnels and start thinking in terms of the entire engagement, regardless of transactional outcome.
You know more about your branding than anyone else, so make sure you have consistent, accurate branding across as many online and offline channels. Don’t let random resellers control your branding.
Because more than half of all U.S. online consumers start their search on Amazon.com, every brand much has a branding & content strategy on the Amazon channel in order to have any consideration with the largest audience of online shoppers.
Automate to Save Your Sanity
Bill Widmer, Ecommerce and Content Consultant
Automate as much as possible. Keeping up with Amazon, eBay, social media, your website, and any other channels you’re a part of can quickly get overwhelming. Automation will help things run smoothly without sucking all your time.
The things that can’t be automated should be delegated as much as possible, unless it’s something that only you can do. Hiring & training the right people is crucial to scaling your business without working 80 hour weeks.
Really, this is just good business advice. But it’s even more true when you branch out into multiple platforms.
Jenna Paton, Content Executive, dotmailer
Integration is key. Only 7% of marketers can deliver omnichannel in real time, all of the time. To get close, brands need to adopt a holistic strategy that loops in every avenue of customer engagement.
In theory, each channel should be able to talk to each other and leverage the necessary data to drive the next interaction in the customer journey.
This level of integration promotes consistency across all touchpoints and provides customers with a seamless experience that’s channel-agnostic. A brand that can accomplish this will have the advantage over its rivals.
It all starts with data management. It’s the foundation for a successful omnichannel approach. Whether it’s through a PIM (Product Information Management) solution your own custom built one, you will need to establish a workflow to enhance product data to meet the different requirements for the different channels.
Lindsay Hampson Senior Marketing Manager, eBridge Connections
Don’t leave any stone unturned! Test all the channels you think could “speak” to your customers. Just make sure that selling across multiple channels doesn’t take over your life. Automate as much as you can – so your business runs smoothly. Make sure you still get to enjoy :)
The key is customer experience. Brands today need to understand the importance of various touch points that impact a consumer’s decision to move forward with them.
Relying on their sales team is as important as holding a decent online reputation on review sites. In fact, the social media presence and engagement also form important KPIs that impact a customer’s choice.
I believe that brands must up their game in all these areas and then approach their customers as per proper segmentation techniques.
Different Channels Means Different Devices (Including Your Feet)
Brands that succeed in omnichannel don’t just think about how to sell on different devices, they’re also thinking about how consumers use different devices and channels to inform a purchasing journey.
Many brands seem to believe omnichannel performance is governed by happenstance. Evolve your strategy to identify consumer needs and how those needs drive specific interactions across your selling channels.
Brands that do this effectively succeed in omnichannel today.
Work both OFF and ON line. Bonobos customers who visit its stores spend 20% more than those who start their experience online.
Checkout the locations you ship out to the most and then experiment with a pop-up shop at high footfall traffic areas within the locations.
Connect this with social, email, direct mail and other customer touch-points at your disposal.
For companies with a D2C aspect, remember that still over 75% of purchase are made physically in store. Do not discount a retail approach to compliment your online approach or risk alienating 75% of your potential revenue.
Allocate the Resources and Leverage Technology
Brandon Bauer, Manager of Enterprise Strategy, Logical Position
A lot of secondary channels don’t get the attention or resources they deserve. Instead of viewing the landscape as your website and a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, think of it as having a primary website and multiple microsites.
The goal should be bring as much of your brand experience to these microsites. You can then engage with your customers in their world and still reinforce what makes your brand unique, but not try to force them in to your world (primary website).
It can seem daunting, but a lot businesses spend too much time trying to generate new ideas for each channel when they should instead take a single idea and translate it in to as many different mediums and channels as possible.
People are going to consume content how they want, so by spreading an idea across multiple formats, your providing valuable flexibility that works across channels.
Jeff Dyksen, President, Diztinct
Cast your net wide. Both B2C and B2B are more fractured than ever. Buyers have their preferred ways to shop for certain products, and the options are varied and many: Amazon.com, Retail Store, Website, Facebook, eBay, etc.
Buyers don’t want to spend time searching you out anymore; they expect you to come to them, so you need to have a presence on the channels where your customers are. That doesn’t mean that every channel will be the right fit for your product line. Instead, find the channels where your customers are and get your products out there.
Thankfully, technology like BigCommerce has made it really easy to do omni-channel selling. Make sure that you are taking advantage of it.
Conversion is Only The First Step; Now You Must Deliver
Karen Baker, CEO Founder, ShipperHQ
Remember that the buyer’s journey doesn’t end when the customer places their order, it continues to the point they’ve happily received their order on time and in good condition.
Make sure you offer delivery services that meet, or exceed, your customers’ expectations including speed and cost, of course, but consider other options like in-store pickup, same day delivery, or alternate delivery locations to really stand out. You also have to make sure that you can literally deliver on your promises!
Think about the message your packaging sends, the customer experience provided by the shipping services you offer, and make sure your customer success team has the resources to help customers at every step of fulfillment.