Ecommerce Research

The 2018 Omni-Channel Retail Report: Generational Consumer Shopping Behavior Comes Into Focus

Tracey Wallace / 21 min read

Millennials’ decades in the spotlight are coming to a close in the UK; Gen Z is the new segment for rising brands and apps to capture loyalty. And Gen Z, unlike their millennial counterparts, differ from their UK 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.

Generational Key:
  • Gen Z: 18-21
  • Millennials: 22-37
  • Gen X: 38-53
  • Baby Boomers: 54-72

The Omni-Channel Retail Consumer Shopping Report Background

The following data showcases how UK consumers shop by generation and across multiple channels. This omni-channel retailing study was conducted by BigCommerce with nearly 3,000 consumers surveyed.

This omni-channel retailing study was conducted by BigCommerce with nearly 3,000 consumers surveyed.

Omni-channel retail is a retail industry term used to describe brands that sell across all channels, including: branded website, marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, brick-and-mortar stores, and social commerce like Facebook and Instagram.

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 British consumers 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 British consumers 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 British 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 and Baby Boomers in the UK are the least likely to shop in-stores (at 13.25% and 16.87%). For UK Gen Z’ers, they shop in-store 1.5X more often than their U.S. counterparts.

Both Gen Z and Millennials in the UK shop primarily on social channels (Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook).

No Baby Boomers in the UK reported using Instagram or Shapchat to shop. Five percent reported using Facebook.

For Gen X, 16% reported shopping on Facebook, 6% of Snapchat and only 3.5% of Instagram.

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 UK Consumers Shop Where They Shop

The top three buying destinations for consumers are Amazon, branded 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 UK consumers across all generations chose to buy an item at a branded online store.

For Millennials and Gen Z, speed on branded websites matters 2.5X more than for Gen X and Baby Boomers.

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 weary 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 reasons why UK consumers shopped on Amazon across all generations. Ease of shipping matters most to Millennials at 21%, likely due to younger children in the home.

Speed is most important to Gen Z, nearly 3X more important than it is to Millennials and 16X more important than it is for Gen X. No Baby Boomers reported speed to be a factor for buying on Amazon.

Similar to US data, younger generations report shopping on Amazon only for Prime Day in higher numbers (though the percentages remain small).

  • Gen Z: 6.6%
  • Millennials: 3.4%
  • Gen X: 0%
  • Baby Boomers: 0%

 

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 is the #1 reason why UK consumers shop in-store. Contrary to American Gen Z consumers, however, the desire to touch and try on a product remains high in the UK at 30%.

Gen Z does break out from the rest of the UK shopping pack, however. Gen Z ranks speed as the second biggest benefit of brick-and-mortar buying at 16.67% compared to 7.76% for millennials, 11.9% for Gen X, and 11.11% for Baby Boomers.

For Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers, the second biggest benefit of shopping in-store is convenience.  

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 payment and shipping information has long ranked high as one of the most annoying aspects of online shopping.

Paying for shipping costs is the #1 least liked thing in the UK about ecommerce, with not being able to try on or touch the product in advance the #2 least liked aspect.

Generations differ considerably, however.

For Gen Z, the #1 biggest online shopping issue is the difficult return process (26.67%). Seventeen percent say shipping costs are a big impediment, compared to 23.77% of Millennials, 20.83% of Gen X, and 28.95% of Baby Boomers.

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

In the UK, Gen Z is the only age group to have no one report opting out of making large online purchases. In other generations, 3.31% of Millennials, 9.86% of Gen X, and 10.5% of Baby Boomers do not make large online purchases.

Credit cards and PayPal are neck-and-neck in the UK for large online payments –– with older generations preferring credit card and younger generations preferring PayPal.

Mobile wallet usage is 10X higher with Millennials and Gen Z than with Gen X and Baby Boomers, but still relatively low. Here is how it breaks out:

  • Gen Z: 10%
  • Millennials: 12.4%
  • Gen X: 2.82%
  • Baby Boomers: 2.63%

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.

However, contrary to U.S. consumer shopping data in which Gen Z leads the online financing pack, in the UK, Millennials and Gen X are more likely to opt-in.

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

When it comes to how financing affects purchasing decisions, Millennials are the most likely in the UK to have bought a more expensive option than if financing was not available (46.58% of Millennials surveyed).

  • Gen Z is more likely to buy more items than they would have otherwise with financing (64.29%).
  • Gen X is the most likely to have not made the purchase if financing had not been available.
  • Baby Boomers are spread even across all options in this survey.

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

On average, most UK consumers expect to return up to 25% of the items they purchase online. Millennials are the most likely to return items more than 50% of the time.

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 fulfillment – 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 biggest reason for returning an item in the UK is because the item does not fit, with the item arriving damaged being the second most popular reason.

Gen Z returns items 23.33% because the item did not match its online description. That is 2X more than Millennials, nearly 2X more than Gen X and 1.5X more often than Baby Boomers in the UK for the same reason.

Both Millennials and Gen Z also return items more often because they no longer need it. They do this at least 10X more often than older generations in the UK.

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, with bringing the item to a brick and mortar store being the second most frequent option. Amazon drop off locations are also a quickly rising option across all generations.

Baby Boomers in the UK are the least likely to return an item to an online store. Here is how it breaks down:

  • Gen Z: 20%
  • Millennials: 27.73%
  • Gen X: 28.17%
  • Baby Boomers: 13.51%

When it comes to returning items in store, more than 40% of all generations expect to shop in the store upon visiting for the return.

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

Loyalty Trumps Data Collection for Younger Shoppers

With the passing of GDPR in the UK, more than 75% of all generations are aware of the new regulations.

However, less than 40% of folks in each generation have asked for their data to be deleted. Younger generations have been more active than older generations in requesting the deletion.

In addition, most UK consumers feel as though retailers are respecting their data privacy.

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

In terms of what brands could offer to persuade shoppers to share more data, 47% of Baby Boomers say “absolutely nothing.” Younger generations are more forgiving however, and willing to exchange product discounts 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:
  1. Capture Data, Track Conversions & Target Messaging
  2. User Experience and Customer Experience are Priority #1
  3. Automate to Save Your Sanity
  4. Different Channels Means Different Devices (Including Your Feet)
  5. Allocate the Resources, and Use Helpful Technology
  6. 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.

Kevin Richards, Founder and CEO, Ventura Web Design & Marketing

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.

Jeff Sauer, Founder, Data Driven U

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.

David Jaeger, CEO, Result Kitchen

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 marketing place.

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.

Kaleigh Moore, freelance SaaS writer

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.

Rieva Lesonsky, CEO, GrowBiz Media/SmallBizDailly.com

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.

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.

Eamon Rodeck, Founder, Weizen Young

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 :)

Shane Barker, Digital Strategist

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)

Jordan Brannon, President, Coalition Technologies

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.

Kunle Campbell, 2X eCommerce

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.

Erik Huberman, CEO, Hawke Media

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.

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