Online Retailers

What Is Omnichannel Retailing? Definition & Benefits

By Danielle Allen
Omnichannel Retailing

An effective omnichannel retailing strategy has become an expectation from today’s consumers and ensures your business is safeguarded against the future of retail - but why is that?


In 2023, it is thought that in the UK there will be around 60-million ecommerce users, a surge partly driven by post-pandemic behaviour and the growing rise of ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. However, despite the rise of online shopping, sales in physical stores have remained steady, suggesting that today’s consumers like to use different channels to influence their purchasing decision. 


It's crucial for retailers to recognise that consumers no longer have a linear buying journey. Instead, customers will interact with your business across multiple channels, from social media to a physical store, before making a purchase. 


In the article, we’ll explore the definition of omnichannel retailing, how it differs from multichannel retailing, and how it can benefit your business.


What is omnichannel retailing?


Omnichannel retailing is a customer-centric strategy which focuses on providing an integrated and seamless shopping experience across all channels and touchpoints. 


This means that no matter how a customer chooses to interact with you, they will be able to switch between your various channels and still receive a unified, consistent experience. For instance, when a customer visits your store, they should have the option to purchase the same items online, and if needed, return them in-store without needing to ‘restart’ their journey.


What is the difference between omnichannel and multichannel retailing?


The key difference between omnichannel and multichannel retailing lies in their strategy. 


Omnichannel retail is a customer-centric strategy that focuses on providing a consistent and seamless experience across all channels. Multichannel retail on the other hand, is a channel-centric approach that focuses on having multiple ways in which a customer can interact with a business, but they won’t necessarily be integrated and won’t allow customers to switch between them seamlessly. 


Other key differences between omnichannel and multichannel retailing include:


Level of channel integration


Like omnichannel, a multichannel strategy is one in which multiple channels and touchpoints are utilised. However, in a multichannel retailing strategy these channels and touchpoints work and stand independently of one another.


An example of multichannel retailing is when you have a physical store which doesn’t share its inventory data with your website. Customers who are browsing your online shop are unable to see if an item is available in a nearby store, and will need to restart their purchase journey by visiting the physical store itself


If an omnichannel retail strategy was present, the customer would be able to go on your website and see information about the stock levels in store. In doing so, customers would be able to start their buying journey online and finish it in store with ease.


Data and insights


In multichannel retailing, the data for each channel is typically kept and monitored separately. This separation of data can limit your ability to gain comprehensive insights into your customers, meaning there is limited opportunity to provide and offer a personalised experience. For instance, you may know that a customer shops online, but you may not know how they interact with your social media, email campaigns or physical stores. 


Omnichannel retailing on the other hand, integrates data from all of your channels, providing you with a comprehensive view of customer behaviour across their whole journey. This data can be used to personalise the experience which can ultimately improve customer engagement and satisfaction.


Benefits of omnichannel retailing


How can implementing an omnichannel retail strategy benefit your business?


1. Meet customer expectations


Not only do customers want to be able to seamlessly switch from physical and online stores, but an omnichannel approach is a necessity in a business’ survival. Therefore, meeting customer expectations is no longer optional: it is needed for survival in today’s competitive business landscape.


2. Inventory optimisation


As part of an omnichannel retail strategy, all channels and touchpoints are synchronised with the same inventory data. Therefore, you can efficiently manage inventory levels across different channels which can help you to avoid stock level issues.


3. Increased personalisation 


The integration of the data from all channels enables you to gain invaluable insights about customer preferences and behaviours.  With this information, you can deliver a personalised shopping experience by providing product recommendations and offers based on their previous behaviour. As 91% of customers are more likely to shop when they are provided with personalised offers and recommendations, this opportunity to upsell and cross sell is invaluable.


4. Increased sales


At its core, omnichannel retailing is a customer centric strategy which uses channel integration and data to connect with customers at every stage of their buying journey. By delivering personalised messages and providing an excellent customer experience, you can build brand awareness, trust and loyalty which in turn can work to increase sales.


Implementing an omnichannel retailing strategy with Mintsoft


When implementing an omnichannel retailing strategy, it is important to make sure that you have the systems in place so that your various channels are integrated with one another.


As experts within e-commerce inventory management and providers of order management software, Mintsoft can help you to find the right solutions to execute an omnichannel retailing strategy.


Book a demo to find out more about how Mintsoft can support your business.

Danielle Allen
By Danielle Allen Digital Content Manager

Danielle is a content writer at Access Mintsoft with an abundance of experience in the new and emerging technologies sector. Dedicated to providing ecommerce retailers and 3PL’s informative and easy-to-understand content that engages and empowers readers to learn about all things ‘order fulfillment’.