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The omnichannel advantages every retailer should know

“Omnichannel shopping is becoming the norm.” 

That’s what research giant McKinsey recently said after finding 75% of U.S. consumers are researching and purchasing both online and in-store. Omnichannel shopping means that people can research, browse, and buy from nearly anywhere through channels that are convenient for them, whether on the web, phone, or in store.  

This popular behavior presents a great opportunity for businesses that are set up to offer omnichannel retail experiences. Here are some ways this “new normal” can deliver more perks for your business.

Revenue upsides come with in-store sales

Despite the surge in e-commerce during the last 2 years, in-store shopping still powers the majority of retail revenues. Even native direct-to-consumer businesses like Allbirds are embracing omnichannel by opening brick-and-mortar stores to get a piece of that pie. In fact, Allbirds reported that shoppers who visited both a physical store and the brand’s website spent 1.5 times more than customers who only visited a store or shopped online.

Having a physical store yields strong profit margins, as fulfillment costs are generally lower. But utilizing other channels in tandem with a store—like a website, social media properties, email—can bring higher returns. Omnichannel retail is good for incremental sales gain: Customers who used 4+ channels (for research, browsing, and more) spent 9% more in the store, on average, than those who just used one channel, according to the Harvard Business Review

Offering buy now, pay later (BNPL) options in store is also capturing more revenue for retailers. BNPL made up 1% of all U.S. in-store transactions in 2021 (estimated at $94 billion), and that figure is expected to double by 2025. In comparison, BNPL accounted for 4% of U.S. e-commerce activity in 2021, with an estimated total value of $56 billion.

Maximize customer loyalty with the convenience of omnichannel

Of course, the benefits of an omnichannel retail experience extend beyond incremental revenue. According to a survey by Aspect Software, companies that pursue an omnichannel strategy achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to those that do not. That’s because more people are using multiple channels to eliminate friction in their shopping trips. 

Last year 53% of holiday shoppers in the U.S. said they would check online to make sure a product is in stock before going to the store to buy it. So any retailer that didn’t have an online presence was at a disadvantage during the busiest retail season of the year.

The shopping method known as BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) is an omnichannel best practice. Roughly 2 out of 3 shoppers used this method to make a purchase in 2019, and it became even more popular during the pandemic. Shoppers like it because they save on shipping costs and can arrange a pickup that fits in their schedule. Those benefits enhance the customer experience and pay dividends in loyalty.

Omnichannel marketing drives higher sales volume

Having multiple channels for sales and marketing gives you a great opportunity to interact, influence, and build relationships that keep your business top of mind. These channels can include email, push notifications, Facebook or Google retargeting, store signage, and more. And the rewards for activating them for marketing campaigns are significant: Marketers using 3 or more channels in a campaign earned a 494% higher order rate than those using a single-channel campaign.

A great way to engage in-store shoppers is to place marketing messages up-funnel in digital channels, since so many shoppers are looking at these channels as part of their consideration. You can engage these shoppers doing pre-purchase research through email, strategic website placements like the store locator page, and push notifications.

If you offer BNPL options to shoppers, up-funnel messaging can be very effective in turning a browser into a buyer. When shoppers know they have more payment flexibility, they experience less sticker shock. This in turn can boost conversion and average cart sizes for your business—especially if shoppers know about this option early in the buying journey. With Affirm’s BNPL omnichannel solution, you can easily customize pay-over-time messages to promote in your marketing channels.

As people rely on more channels as part of the shopping experience, your investment in omnichannel activations can yield benefits on many fronts—including conversion, average order value, and customer loyalty.

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