Omnichannel and multichannel strategies are emerging as increasingly vital tools for retailers hoping to reach consumers both increasingly adopting hybrid shopping habits and becoming more cost conscious amidst a strained economy.
“Omnichannel is a strategy by which a brand owns or manages several channels, whereas Multichannel is about pushing products not just through your channels but also through unaffiliated channels,” says Sarah Britz, co-founder of ‘bush business’ marketplace Spend with Us, “I believe these strategies are the future of e-commerce and should be a significant part of every new and existing retail business game plan.”
“Conversely, businesses that don’t adopt online selling and offer multichannel and omnichannel strategies may soon find themselves at a disadvantage [compared to] competitors.”
The rise of the importance of omnichannel and multichannel retail strategies comes as consumer behaviours have changed in recent years, with both methods of shopping and sources of finding products becoming increasingly varied. In its new holiday shopping report, mobile marketing platform InMobi has identified that 44 percent of Australian consumers plan to shop both in-store and on their mobiles this holiday season, while the sources of product discovery for consumers sees increased variation with mobile now the second most cited source of product discovery behind only television.
Power Retail’s most recent Trajectory Report also shows variation in how consumers search for products online, with Google still leading the way for 57 percent of consumers, followed by searches directly through retailers for 18 percent of customers, through eBay for 12 percent and through Amazon for 11 percent. The embrace of marketplaces as a source of product discovery, particularly, is something of considerable importance for retailers considering omnichannel and multichannel strategies.
As APAC Managing Director for e-commerce software provider ChannelAdvisor Darren Fifield recently wrote, “Once viewed as online alternatives to brick-and-mortar stores, research shows marketplaces are now a top location for “window shoppers” — those who browse without specific plans to purchase. In fact, 88% of Australian online shoppers stated they had browsed marketplaces or retail sites in the previous 12 months without direct intention to buy anything. And 43% of those polled indicated they were on marketplaces when they discovered the products they ended up purchasing.”
Alternative social media platforms, too, have emerged as common sources of driving traffic to retailers with users tapping into platforms such as Pinterest, TikTok and Instagram to discover products. The variety in how consumers are looking to shop and to discover products demonstrates a shift in the shopping journey for the average consumer, where ‘browse and buy’ has become a far less straightforward process than it once was. As Head of B2B Marketing for Cashrewards Sally Marsden recently concluded, “The shopping journey is no longer linear.”
“Now is the time for businesses to adapt to new consumer needs and behaviours, embrace online selling, and utilise strategies to help their business thrive,” Britz tells Power Retail, “Consumers are turning to technology to do their shopping – the more places our business can be found, the more chances you have to reach new customers and retain old ones.”
Ongoing economic turmoil driving up the cost of living, with the distinct possibility of a global recession looming, also means that retailers embracing omnichannel and multichannel strategies is more important than ever – particularly as consumers begin to shy away from discretionary spend as they prepare for challenging months ahead.
“The key is to ensure that you are expanding your market base and better understanding how to target them. This becomes especially important as economic conditions change, and you cannot rely on the same level of sales you had from your existing customer base,” says Britz, “Your existing market base will reduce their spending habits as economic conditions change [so] it is very important that you expand your reach, and find new markets for your products to ensure you can keep your sales lever up and grow. e-commerce continues to grow, and consumers are embracing it more and more.”
“Consumers are looking for the best deals and ways to save money. They want to be able to purchase through multiple avenues and if businesses do not have a strong online presence, then their future sales could be significantly impacted.”
As the co-founder of an online marketplace aimed at providing avenues of commerce primarily for rural businesses, Sarah Britz is well placed to understand the importance of omnichannel and multichannel strategies, providing a platform through which rural businesses can develop their own omnichannel and multichannel presences and boost their sales results.
“Spend With Us is a large market with more than 400K buyers that vendors can actively target. This is a phenomenal pool of people that are not only numerous but also sympathetic to supporting regional business in Australia. Spend With Us offers our sellers both omni and multi-channel opportunities to grow their businesses,” Britz says, “We are the first and largest online marketplace to offer rural and regional Australian small businesses an affordable opportunity to get online fast without any technical knowledge or skills, reach a vast audience of consumers, and help them to grow, scale and succeed.”
“Our platform was created to provide a free, simple and user-friendly way for non-tech savvy regional business owners to take their businesses online, tell their inspiring stories and allow Australians to find and purchase their products all in one place easily.”
Overall, a more dynamic and malleable approach to omnichannel and multichannel marketing and sales opportunities emerges as a necessity for retailers not only to hope to withstand predicted economic turbulence, but to meet consumers in the diverse variety of locations where they can more increasingly be found.
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