Why Brands Need to Offer an Omnichannel Experience in Order to Drive Retail Sales

By R. Larsson, Advertising Week

The traditional brick-and-mortar store experience has undergone a profound evolution. With the advent of digital technologies and shifting consumer behaviours, the retail industry is experiencing a seismic shift towards omnichannel strategies. Today, the success of a brand hinges not merely on the products it offers, but on its ability to seamlessly integrate multiple channels into a cohesive and immersive shopping experience.

Speaking to industry experts, we have gathered insights on retail innovation and have explored why brands must embrace an omnichannel approach to not only survive but thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

From enhancing customer engagement, to driving sales growth, offering an omnichannel experience has never been more pressing.

Justine O’Neill, Senior Director, Analytic Partners

Everyone knows the saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. While this may sound like hedging your bets, when it comes to boosting ROI and reaching the consumer, delivering a true omnichannel experience is the most effective move.

In marketing to customers, it is key to realize that online media can cause a surge in brick-and-mortar sales and that vice versa, offline media can directly boost online sales. Consumers may see a product online but decide to research and check it out in-store, where the sale will then take place. The same is true of seeing an OOH ad and then ordering the product online to be delivered, at your convenience, to your home. It is imperative to acknowledge that these channels do not exist in a vacuum or siloes. Holistic measurement can elucidate where there is a crossover effect. For instance, we have found that 70% to 90% of the impact of Amazon display ads actually drives non-Amazon sales. If retail brands acknowledge this dynamic, they can better market to their consumers and ultimately drive the business.

When assessing brands using our ROI Genome, we have found that opening a retail store can result in incremental sales online, with a 4% to 8% lift in online sales from a physical store opening. This is an effect Prada is hoping to see after doubling down on investments in retail space worldwide and it is this boost that has led DTC brands, such as Glossier, to subsequently open stores, and reap the benefits. A brick-and-mortar presence is an excellent branding initiative, bringing the business identity closer to the customer while online ecommerce permits a broader reach and convenience of purchase. For most retailers, both experiences are necessary to unlock full business potential.

Prateek Gupta, Managing Director of Commerce and Retail Media, OMG UK

In today’s retail landscape, having a unified omnichannel strategy is no longer a differentiator, it’s a necessity.

The path to purchase isn’t a linear experience and today’s consumer effortlessly switches between online browsing, visiting stores and purchasing via apps. With online retail sales now reaching nearly a third of the market, all touchpoints must be utilised in order to seamlessly deliver a cohesive brand experience.

This has a multitude of benefits both for brands and consumers. Firstly, by creating an effective omnichannel approach, a customer is empowered to navigate through the shopper journey in a way that best suits them. And with research demonstrating that omnichannel customers spend significantly more both online and instore versus those just using a single channel, this undoubtedly drives significant outcomes for businesses. Secondly, by creating a customer centric and cohesive experience, brands are subsequently able to build trust which in turn drives repeat purchasing and buy-in to loyalty schemes.

Finally, an omnichannel approach unlocks the power of data-driven personalisation. By collecting customer insights from all touchpoints, retailers can tailor promotions and product recommendations, leading to more relevant purchases and increased customer lifetime value.

Nick Blenkarne, Head of Strategy, Imagination

The term “omnichannel” can sound like technical jargon. However, the ultimate goal is to provide a unified and seamless customer experience. Consumers today are not bound by the physical limitations of brick-and-mortar stores, or the digital constraints of online shopping. Instead, they navigate effortlessly between these channels and expect a consistent and integrated service across all touchpoints. It only takes one bad experience in the overall journey to sour the taste of the customer’s experience. And when the in-store experience doesn’t match how the brand shows up on social media or their eCommerce, it leads to cognitive dissonance.

By integrating online and offline channels, brands can ensure that consumers experience the same level of service, product availability, and personalised communication, regardless of how or where they choose to engage. This coherence not only enhances customer satisfaction but also fosters loyalty, as customers feel valued and understood across all platforms. There’s also a business benefit – if done well, brands can gather comprehensive data about customer preferences and behaviours, which should enable more accurate targeting and customised offerings. This data-driven approach can make marketing efforts more efficient and effective, leading to increased sales and customer retention.

It sounds simple, and most businesses know this to be true. But more often than not, it doesn’t happen. We still experience frustrating disjointedness. After researching and browsing new running shoes online, then going in-store to try on a chosen pair and buy them, we still get ads for said bought shoes following us around the internet, rather than smart product adjacency recommendations. 

James Milne, Managing Director Northern Europe, Outbrain

Omnichannel marketing is the cornerstone of consumer-centric brand activity. If executed well, a targeted and personalised approach can enhance a customer’s connection and trust with a brand – and drive the all important purchase. As retailers grapple with the influence that inflation is having on consumer behaviour, investing some time into trust and loyalty could benefit all.

But this isn’t a quick fix, retail brands need to spend time planning and executing a consistent strategy that considers every channel, from the website to email, native ads to social media and even physical stores. Every consumer engages with their favourite retail brands in a different way across different platforms, and a successful omnichannel marketing experience ensures that a brand’s messaging is consistent and seamless across every touchpoint.

Without coordination across all channels, consumers may experience a fractured mess that puts them off purchasing all together. Utilising consumer data and tailoring the experience at each touchpoint can encourage multiple purchases. In fact, on average, omnichannel shoppers spend 1.7 times more than those that shop via a single channel. And this isn’t just about ROI – omnichannel marketing can give retail brands a competitive edge and deeper customer insights for more personalised engagement in the future.