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Here’s what you need for a great omnichannel retail experience

Not long ago, “let’s go shopping” meant traveling to a mall or store. Today, it doesn’t require leaving your house, thanks to channels like web, mobile, and social media. And businesses that cultivate an omnichannel retail experience—selling to and interacting with customers on multiple channels or platforms—can benefit from higher traffic and sales.

An omnichannel retail experience gives shoppers what they want—more choice and convenience—and it’s a good investment for your business. Customers who used 4+ channels spent 9% more in the store, on average, than those who just used one channel, according to the Harvard Business Review

Of course, just being present on multiple channels isn’t enough. The channels must work together so that the customer’s experience is seamless. If that sounds like a tall order, here are a few basics to focus on so you gain the most reward from building a great omnichannel retail experience.

Common approaches that boost conversion

Two omnichannel practices have dominated the retail landscape in recent years: buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup. In 2021, retailers that offered one or both of these omnichannel services had higher conversion rates than those that didn’t offer them.

Shoppers love the convenience of these offerings. With BOPIS, also known as click-and-collect, shoppers can make a purchase anytime online and then pick it up at the store at their convenience. This method was already gaining traction with shoppers before the pandemic—2 out of 3 shoppers used BOPIS in 2019.

Curbside pickup exploded during the pandemic, with 580% growth in 2021 among the Top 1000 Retailers, as tracked by Digital Commerce 360. Public health safety was the main priority behind offering curbside pickup, as it minimized person-to-person contact. But convenience is why a majority of shoppers (59%) say they’ll continue to use it as the pandemic recedes.

“The ability to offer curbside pickup is key to a customer experience for the modern-day shopper,” said Michelle Grant, senior manager of strategy and insights at Salesforce.

While those two practices are most popular, other channels like telesales or social media can increase customer acquisition and traffic to your site. As you decide which channels to focus on, lean on your tech or platform partnerships for expertise and help in laying a foundation that will help your business grow.

Payment flexibility makes the difference

Offering shoppers multiple payment options is another key to success in the omnichannel retail experience. Convenience remains the priority for shoppers, and recent payments innovations have helped businesses deliver it. If you don’t adapt and cater to shoppers’ payment preferences, your sales may suffer.

Here are 3 common payment options that have gained widespread appeal:

  • Digital wallets: Usage has grown both online and in-store across the globe. Juniper Research estimates that the number of digital wallet users exceeded 2.6 billion in 2020 and will rise to over 4 billion by 2025. In the U.S., this payment method is especially popular among younger consumers: 53% of millennials and 62% of Gen Z shoppers made purchases with mobile wallets last year.

  • Contactless payments: This option will be especially important for helping with curbside pickup. Rather than having a fixed terminal for payment processing, mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) technology is helping merchants turn smartphones into processors that can accept payments with a tap from a card or phone.

  • Buy now, pay later (BNPL): As more and more shoppers use this payment method, retailers who offer it are seeing benefits in conversion and average order values (AOV), among other upsides. Businesses that offer BNPL through Affirm, for example, see up to 85% lift in AOV and a 20% repeat purchase rate. Merchants can also benefit from Affirm’s BNPL technology that enhances the omnichannel retail experience. 

Whatever omnichannel approach you take, prioritize the customer experience above all. A great retail omnichannel experience is less about the quantity of channels you can connect and track. It’s about quality: delivering seamless and convenient transactions.

Get more tips for implementing contactless payments that can enhance the omnichannel retail experience for your customers.