More and more retailers and manufacturers in eCommerce are no longer selling their products exclusively in their own web shops. Currently, two thirds of all online shop operators sell their goods via other channels. But what sales strategies are there and why do they make sense at all? In today’s article, we will introduce you in detail to multichannel and omnichannel strategies.
Multichannel strategies: be there for your customers wherever they are
Multichannel strategies describe eCommerce strategies that aim to give customers the greatest possible freedom when choosing their shopping location. If you pursue a multichannel strategy, customers will find your products on various online channels such as social media, online marketplaces such as Amazon or Ebay or your own online shop. You will also be available to your customers in brick and mortar stores. This will enable you to address your customers where they happen to be in their leisure time and make shopping as convenient as possible for them.
In the highly competitive online market, retailers with multichannel strategies are particularly successful. A prominent example in Germany is the food retailer Mymuesli. Initially started as a pure online mail order service for personalised breakfast cereals, there are now thirty brick and mortar stores in central locations or shopping centres in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In contrast to the web shop, only ready-made packages can be purchased offline, but customers can try mueslis on site – something that is not possible online. Mymuesli products are also sold in food markets and cafés. It is also possible to order by catalogue.
Why is selling through multiple channels worthwhile for you?
With a multichannel strategy, you increase your sales opportunities on the one hand and bind your customers more strongly, as they get the opportunity to shop using their favourite channels. On the other hand, selling your products at different locations spreads the risk of incurring losses at a single location. In addition, there are synergy effects between sales channels, as the successful example of Mymuesli shows.
While with multichannel concepts the different sales channels are strictly separated from each other, omnichannel eCommerce links all available sales channels with each other.
Omnichannel strategies: create a seamless shopping experience
Omnichannel strategies target a different aspect of new consumer habits than multichannel strategies. Have you ever seen a product in a shop and searched directly on the Internet for better offers or further information about the product? According to an international study of GfK, 40 percent of customers shop like this. Omnichannel strategies use exactly this new kind of shopping for themselves and combine the advantages of both offline and online retailing. In an interview with the business portal business-on.de, Tim Arlt, COO of the German Retailers’ Association, places great hopes in this interweaving of different sales channels:
“Offline and online trading will increasingly merge. In the future, we expect to see more and more offline retailers persuading customers with advice and showrooms. Moreover, it’s hard to imagine customers carrying their purchases home themselves in a few years’ time.”
How to create an omnichannel shopping experience
Zara recently presented an example of future offline retailing with its flagship store in London. The clothing group uses automated processes to link online retailing with their brick and mortar store. Thus, the products selected in the store benefit most from the networking of distribution channels. For example, interactive mirrors scan the products that a customer holds in their hands and advise them on the basis of photos of finished outfits. In addition, self-pay cash registers and check-out tablets make the purchasing process more flexible for employees.
In addition to the usual departments, Zara has created a separate “online” department. Customers can pick up their products ordered in the online shop there. An automated system sorts the products in the background and makes them available to the customer. By automating the processing of orders, Zara is able to simultaneously organise and deliver a larger number of orders to the store.
Do you doubt that your customers will accept such processes? Our article on the online shop of the future shows that customers are by no means averse to these automated aspects of brick and mortar stores.
The main advantage of omnichannel eCommerce is that it provides customers with an optimal user experience. Find out how you can develop a successful omnichannel strategy here.
How to set your prices in both multichannel and omnichannel eCommerce
According to Krämer (2017), the more mobile devices your customers use, the more likely they are to compare prices. With this in mind, he presents options for trusted pricing for both multichannel and omnichannel strategies.
In multichannel strategies it is possible to set both the same prices across all channels as well as price differences between distribution channels. There are weighty arguments for both options, says Krämer. Therefore, it is advisable to choose an option that is specifically helpful for your business.
Does it make sense to use different prices when implementing omnichannel strategies?
Krämer makes the success of price differences in omnichannel strategies depend on how you link the different channels. It is also crucial to what extent these are justified and whether your customers are prepared to pay different prices at all – especially with regard to the easy accessibility of prices via smartphones. The high rate of price comparisons is a potential risk for your business. Krämer therefore points out that continuous monitoring of the market is necessary due to the dynamisation of purchasing processes. Only if you keep an eye on all prices on all channels can you keep the trust of your customers.
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