Omnichannel Retailing: Leveraging Sales through Social

It is evident that there is a drastic change in the ways consumers shop. Especially after the pandemic, the retail business is moving towards digital like never before.

The pandemic has yielded a new phenomenon called “The Great Retail Migration” – where shoppers are moving online during the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown. According to Google stats, in the Indo-pacific region alone, nearly 40 million new internet users availed themselves of online retail services as a result of the pandemic in 2020. This is a significant number since they contributed to one-third of e-commerce revenue last year.

But still, retail has not yet completely shifted online. Right now, it is still in the process of transitioning from offline to online, and hence, a new retail strategy, which considers both online and offline sales patterns could help to boost your sales. This is the era of omnichannel retailing.

Welcome to the New Retail

The new-age retailing is a seamless combination of the online and offline worlds, with an objective to deliver a smooth shopping experience. The main focus of new retail is to learn how to digitize the processes, how to adapt to the changing marketplace and how to integrate the online-offline consumer behaviors to overcome the limitations of the physical world.

This is a serious challenge since it is no longer a secret that more and more offline retail stores are shutting down or reduce their operational capacity. During the lockdown of 2021, in the Indian state of Maharashtra alone, nearly 15,000 mobile retailers had to shut their stores. The Maharashtra mobile phone retailers body quoted, “Although it contributed to Rs. 18,000 crores worth of sales annually, the lockdown forced majority of mobile phone retailers to shut down the business as we won’t be able to survive with the baggage of expenses like staff salaries, shop rents, home rents, electricity bills, bank interests, EMI’s, etc.”

Although online retail offers many benefits, including low costs and more options, offline retail has its own benefits. Many consumers still prefer to buy after human interactions – which offer scope to trust, consult and convince. Hence, offline retail is not completely dead. It needs to adapt, and this is what omnichannel retail has to offer.

Customers Like Omnichannel Retail Experience

Last year, a study by eMarketer revealed that e-commerce retail sales increased from 20% to 30% due to the pandemic. This change in consumer behavior was not only limited to migration from offline to online. Consumers also preferred to explore different products and services than regular ones. They also tried out new brands and retailers. One of the reasons was the new constraints posed by the lockdown – accessibility, and delivery.

Customers opted for services that were available, offered curbside pickups or delivery services. All these factors indicated a need to understand the changing customer behavioral patterns, which would enhance the omnichannel marketing game.

Omnichannel Is Valuable for Retailers

46% of retail executives plan to increase their budgets for omnichannel retailing even after the pandemic [Source: BigCommerce and Retail Dive, 2020]. A study by Google indicated, 80% of new online users availed themselves of online retail services due to the pandemic, intent to continue shopping online and only 23% of the consumers expressed their intent to opt for in-store shopping after the pandemic.

Grofers, an online grocery shopping company in India stated that among all its new customers in 2020, 64% were first-time online grocery shoppers, while 20% were totally new to e-commerce. Similarly, Flipkart witnessed a spurge of 50% rise of new customers after the lockdown, with tier-III regions registering the highest growth of 65%.

A well-established truth about retail is that consumers always seek better prices, selection, and convenience. With the high-speed internet having already fulfilled the first two customer needs, now the focus has turned towards convenience.

Boost Your Omnichannel Strategy

A strong omnichannel strategy can undoubtedly increase sales and revenue. An eMarketer report found that streamlined digital experiences, curbside pickup, and touchless checkout contributed to increased shopping frequency and incremental sales. Here are some of the factors that make omnichannel so valuable.

1. Be Visible to Your Customers

COVID-19 has not stopped people from transacting — it has just diverted and dispersed much of that activity across different channels. According to a survey conducted by NRF prior to the pandemic, 83% of shoppers indicated that convenience while shopping was more important to them than five years prior.

2. Stand Out in a Crowded Marketplace

With more players fighting for online attention, standing out requires a more resonant brand, better shopping experience, and great service. To do this, you need to understand your customers better, which can be done through product assortment, sales channels, advertising channels, and messaging.

3. Use Data Analytics to Optimize Your Business

The migration from offline to online has been yielding new consumer behavioral patterns, forcing retailers to rethink and optimize their sales and marketing channel mix to adjust to the new reality. Here, the power of data analytics can help to cope up with the changes and usher new possibilities.

Using Facebook and Google Platform to Maximize Sales

A survey by Deloitte suggests, 87% of retailers agree omnichannel is critical for business success, and only 8% of them feel that they have mastered the omnichannel strategy. At the same time, 90% of retail sales take place offline. Hence, to cope up with the new changes, you need to integrate in-store data and Facebook conversations.

By combining Facebook and Google data and in-store data, you can measure the value of your ad spend and also target the right audience more efficiently. Direct integration with Facebook API can also create wonders for your sales. But this requires heavy lifting from a technological point of view, which could be overcome by collaborating with a tech partner.

Given the decrease of the attention span of users, as well as too many distractions – it is necessary to provide multiple platforms or ways for shoppers to make a purchase. So ensure to include options to make instant purchases on multiple avenues. Google and Facebook can be used to motivate people to make purchases by retargeting ads since users mostly spend their time online on these two platforms.

Integrating video content marketing to an omnichannel retailing strategy has proved to be successful. In fact, 79% of the users prefer to know about a product through video rather than reading texts on a webpage. Hence, ad videos promoted on Facebook and Google platforms have higher chances of catching users’ attention and boosting sales.

Both Works Best for You!

Given the massive potentials of Google and Facebook to engage users, it is better to divide your ad spend budget for both Google and Facebook ads. Both have their own advantages. Google helps your retail brand for creating brand awareness as well as a promotion by popping on multiple sites.

Facebook on the other hand helps to understand user preferences deeper and present your ads to the hyper-potential users. Additionally, Facebook also promotes users to subscribe and follow your retail brand page, which increases the scope for constant engagement. A smart retail brand would invest in both Google and Facebook ads.

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