The term "omnichannel" has become an entrenched part of the retail industry lexicon, and according to the 2018 Omnichannel Buying Report, a recent BigCommerce study of the buying behaviors of 3,000 global consumers, it’s something that almost all consumers practice, whether they realize it or not.
Yet merchants still struggle to provide the omnichannel experience their customers crave. That is, selling across multiple shopping points, be it a physical store or online via your website or social channels. As the holidays approach, this inability to connect with customers where and how they want will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the bottom line.
Selling in an omnichannel way can feel like such an insurmountable hurdle, but as with all things, small changes can make a big difference in the mind of your customer.
Let’s look at three major trends merchants should be aware of when determining how to approach omnichannel for the holidays.
Trend No. 1: A Single-Channel Sales Strategy is Unrealistic
In the last six months, 78 percent of global survey respondents made a purchase on Amazon.com, 65 percent in a physical store, 45 percent on a brand’s website, 34 percent on eBay and another 11 percent on Facebook. This should indicate that your consumers aren't beholden to a single sales channel. They will make a purchase in whichever channel best suits their immediate needs, and your sales strategy should follow that logic.
Need further proof? Thirty percent of respondents saw a product on Amazon before ultimately purchasing it on the brand’s website. Putting products in all the places that your customers shop helps increase brand discovery and visibility, which leads to better conversion.
Trend No. 2: Convenience is Key
Ever wonder why more than 100 million people subscribe to Amazon Prime? It’s because the service provides a major value-add for power shoppers: convenience. Consumers today place extremely high value on convenience; nearly one-third of respondents (28 percent) listed it as the primary reason they make a purchase on Amazon. More than that, consumers want products quickly, and they want to receive them without paying high shipping costs.
Given the high perceived value that digital consumers place on convenient, fast and free fulfillment, retailers that invest in meeting this expectation — by creating an Amazon-like experience on their brand site — will be best positioned for long-term success. Not to mention, they’ll be more likely to reduce friction from the overall consumer purchase experience.
Trend No. 3: Don’t Underestimate the Power of Payment Choice
Although a majority of consumers (54 percent) still choose to make online purchases using a credit card, we’re starting to see a shift as younger generations reach spending maturity. Gen Z, or consumers between the ages of 18-22, are twice as likely as the average global consumer to complete an online purchase using a mobile wallet like Apple Pay, Amazon Pay or Google Pay. Also notable is the rise in financing for online purchases. Forty-five percent of survey respondents indicated that the ability to finance a purchase would influence their ultimate decision, and 36 percent of those shoppers would use financing to buy a more expensive item. The takeaway? Give customers options to buy in the way that's most beneficial for them, especially during the holiday season when spending is expected to average $525 per person.
With omnichannel commerce, the key is to stay abreast of customer needs and use that knowledge to be strategic about business investments. Though these tips barely scratch the surface, they offer a starting point for merchants looking to make an immediate impact during the holiday season.
Jimmy Duvall is chief product officer at BigCommerce, an e-commerce platform.
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