Mastering Omnichannel Commerce: A Technical Deep Dive into Shopify's Advanced Capabilities

by: Zain Alami01/09/2024

Quick Summary Flourishing in an omnichannel era requires a technological foundation that liberates you to concentrate solely on building an immersive and unified experience wherever your customer engages. This blog post set out to not only definitively answer the question, "What is omnichannel?" but also offer technical guidance on leveraging Shopify’s omnichannel capabilities.

The term "omnichannel" is likely a familiar buzzword that has crossed your path numerous times — in sales meetings, within the pages of your preferred marketing blog, and quite possibly, even in your discussions. Yet, amidst its prevalence, grasping the precise meaning can be challenging.  This blog post set out to not only definitively answer the question, "What is omnichannel?" but also offer technical guidance on leveraging Shopify’s omnichannel capabilities to help you achieve your strategic goals for 2024. 

What is Omnichannel Commerce: 

Omnichannel commerce refers to a holistic approach to retail and sales that integrates various online and offline channels to provide a seamless and consistent shopping experience for customers. The goal of omnichannel commerce is to create a unified and cohesive journey for consumers, allowing them to transition effortlessly between different channels such as e-commerce websites, mobile apps, physical stores, social media platforms, and more.

In an omnichannel strategy, the focus is on breaking down the barriers between different sales channels and ensuring that they work together harmoniously. This involves integrating technologies, systems, and processes to enable a real-time exchange of information, such as inventory levels, customer preferences, and order status, across all channels. The ultimate aim is to meet customer expectations for flexibility, convenience, and personalization, regardless of their chosen channel for their shopping journey.

To put it into context, the essence of the omnichannel experience transcends merely offering consumers multiple purchasing avenues. The strategy’s true effectiveness emerges when different channels collaborate harmoniously to envelop consumers in a highly personalized journey that acknowledges their position in the buying cycle. The seamlessness of the omnichannel experience should be such that consumers can transition effortlessly between channels, progressing through the sales funnel without consciously realizing the shift.

Why Omnichannel Commerce: 

In the past, businesses commonly compartmentalized brick-and-mortar, online, social media, and other channels, employing distinct marketing and selling strategies for each. However, contemporary consumers exhibit greater agility, seamlessly transitioning from one channel to another when searching for, shopping, and buying products. This shift in consumer behavior has prompted a logical and imperative need for a more unified and customer-centric approach among ecommerce brands — establishing a fully integrated shopping experience that enables consumers to seamlessly explore and buy products through every channel they come across.

The chance is now, and brands that capitalize on it will secure a larger market share, foster customer loyalty, and accelerate their scalability.

Supported by compelling statistics, the opportunity to embrace an omnichannel ecommerce strategy is undeniable.

Where to Start

Mapping the Customer Journey

Understanding how customers discover your brand, factor it into their purchase decisions, choose to buy, and eventually become repeat customers lays the groundwork for a robust omnichannel strategy. In this section, we delineate the essential tools needed to chart the customer lifecycle, empowering you to target consumers at every phase of the cycle effectively.

As previously stated, 73% of customers now navigate through multiple channels during their purchasing journey. This path is typically non-linear; whether transitioning from offline to online, vice versa, or navigating a blend of both, engaging in channel hopping has become the prevailing norm. 

In mapping out the typical marketing funnel, consumers commonly arrive at your online or physical stores during the "purchase" stage. However, the stages of "Awareness" and "Consideration" precede this, involving various elements such as PR, word of mouth, social media ads, direct email, blogs, and more. Understanding that the purchase decision is shaped within these stages, well before a shopper transforms into a customer, is fundamental to crafting a robust omnichannel strategy. Consequently, maintaining a strong presence in pre-purchase channels such as online ads and consumer review sites becomes of utmost importance.

Identifying Top Conversion Paths

Understanding the source of acquired customers before they land on your site is crucial. Leverage Google Analytics' "Top Conversion Paths" report to map out your customer's pre-purchase journey effectively. This report provides a detailed breakdown of each unique conversion path, illustrating the touchpoints within the buyer's journey that contributed to the final conversion.

Such reports visualize the sequences of channel interactions that resulted in conversions, detailing the number of conversions from each path and the corresponding value of those conversions.

Examine the paths on your list, searching for repetitive patterns that can serve as strategic insights for more effective cross-channel marketing.

Segmenting & Piorotizing

Having identified your top conversion paths, you can now give priority to the most lucrative ones for optimal strategic focus. To gain deeper insights, you have the option to segment customers from your most lucrative paths according to their lifetime value (CLV).

Lifecycle grids empower you to prioritize channels and specific funnel stages that yield your brand's highest return on investment (ROI). For instance, you may discover that a particular channel, like email, excels in retaining loyal customers, while social channel remarketing expedites the time to a customer's third purchase. Given the diverse customer lifetime value (CLV) profiles within each segment, tailoring your marketing strategy and prioritizing efforts becomes feasible by considering context and urgency.

For Shopify Plus brands, achieving these objectives is streamlined through the addition of the Attribution Connector, facilitating the mapping of the customer journey. This tool provides insightful graphs, charts, and analyses akin to Google Analytics, incorporating cost data from advertising channels. It then contrasts this cost with individual customer activity, offering a comprehensive perspective for more effective decision-making.

Enabling Commerce Everywhere

In the omnichannel landscape, the entire world transforms into your storefront—an expansive domain of screens, devices, and touchpoints frequented by your target audience. The omnichannel marketer perceives each touchpoint as a potential sales opportunity. Beyond delivering tailored messages at the right moment, the omnichannel marketer actively promotes the transformation of each touchpoint into a shoppable experience.

With Shopify, you can extend your storefront across myriad channels, encompassing:

Social channels: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest

Messaging channels: Messenger, Shopify Chat, and Apple Business Chat

Marketplaces: Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Walmart, and more.

Offline: Retail Stores and Pop-up shops

Moreover, you can seamlessly link your Shopify store to marketing apps, including:

Free/paid advertising: Google Shopping, Microsoft advertising, Snapchat ads, and more

Email marketing: Klaviyo, Seguno, Omnisend, and Shopify Email

With that being said, Shopify brands can capitalize on the platform's capabilities to establish deep, mutually beneficial connections across channels. This might involve launching promotional campaigns on various social media platforms, driving traffic to your site, and inviting users to discover how others utilize your product on platforms such as Pinterest or Instagram, followed by an in-app checkout option. On the flip side, for those employing pop-up stores or maintaining a brick-and-mortar retail presence, Shopify provides a robust point-of-sale (POS) system to effectively market and facilitate online-to-offline sales.

Managing Inventory

Omnichannel commerce involves overseeing inventory not just from online and brick-and-mortar stores but also from social channels. This introduces fresh challenges in inventory management and fulfillment, emphasizing the necessity of an appropriate tech stack. The centralization of back-end operations can mitigate risks of margin erosion, inventory shortages, and expensive logistics issues.

Comprehensive service providers such as the Shopify Fulfillment Network offer brands a complete solution, ensuring swift and seamless delivery of orders to customers. Leveraging an extensive network of strategically positioned fulfillment centers across the country, these full-service third-party logistics (3PLs) guarantee optimal inventory placement, facilitating quicker and more cost-effective order shipping.

Flourishing in an omnichannel era requires a technological foundation that liberates you to concentrate solely on building an immersive and unified experience wherever your customer engages. Your commerce platform should simplify the intricacies of an omnichannel strategy, streamline workflows, integrate seamlessly with third-party solutions, and provide robust automation tools crafted to enhance your scalability across channels.

At Avex, we design and build products that bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds, while focusing on amplifying the growth of the brand’s owned channels including its online storefronts and apps. We deploy tailored approaches to create consistent, friction-free, and customer-centric experiences with a clear link to value across omnichannel.

If you are interested in learning more, get in touch today!

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