9 Tips for Super-Efficient Omnichannel Distribution
⏱ Reading Time: 9 minutes
The current global COVID-19 crisis has changed the e-commerce landscape. From customer behavior to supply processes, everything is rapidly evolving. Businesses around the world have had to adapt their strategies in order to deal with this unprecedented situation.
At the forefront of all this change is the need for businesses to provide the frictionless, consistent experiences that customers demand.
And that’s where omnichannel distribution comes in.
Omnichannel distribution gives customers a convenient way to purchase and receive products from different sales channels using one-touch seamless integration.
Such a strategy is great for seamless consumer usability, reduced costs, and improved transit. It also results in enhanced customer service – and, ultimately, increased revenue and growth.
However, this strategy can be a little challenging to implement. It requires a fine-tuned system that can function across multiple channels (both online and in-store). This will ensure that no matter where customers interact with the company, their experience is the same.
In this article, we take a look at 9 tips for super-efficient omnichannel distribution that you can implement right now to boost your customer experience.
But before we jump in, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page regarding the difference between omnichannel and multichannel marketing.
What does Omnichannel Mean?
Omnichannel distribution is very different from multichannel marketing, which uses just a few methods to engage customers.
With omnichannel marketing, you have everything working in sync.
For instance, if a customer orders a product online, they can pick up the package in-store without facing any problems.
So now that we’re clear on the differences between the two types of marketing, let’s get on with how to make your omnichannel distribution more efficient.
Picture 1. Difference between multichannel and omnichannel
Tips for Efficient Omnichannel Distribution
1. Focus on Customer-Centricity
The first tip to help you improve your omnichannel marketing is to put the customer at the heart of all that you do.
Always think about customer experience and satisfaction.
As marketing continues to undergo massive changes, consumers are becoming more particular. They want more engagement on their preferred channels and they expect personalized interactions from the businesses they deal with.
Many customers are turned off by mass selling and prefer brands that offer one-to-one communication across a variety of channels and devices. Unfortunately, a lot of marketers are still behind when it comes to omnichannel marketing. They fail to provide a seamless experience that is centered around their customers.
In order to implement customer-centricity into your omnichannel marketing strategy, start by figuring out which channels your target customers prefer.
After all, you can’t serve them if you don’t know where they are.
Find out things such as:
- Where do they do their research?
- Where do they ask their pre-sales questions?
- What types of personalized interactions do they expect?
- …and so on.
A simple way to gather this information is by conducting a survey. Armed with that information, you can then guide your marketing strategies based on your audience’s preferences.
2. Implement Supply Chain Transparency
The next step involves implementing transparency across your entire supply chain. These days, consumers expect transparency in all industries. But many companies struggle to keep up with such demands.
This gives an edge to any business that can offer transparency, which is crucial to creating a positive customer experience.
For instance, nobody wants to make a trip to their local store only to find that the product they want is out of stock. Customers should not even have to call the store to check if a particular product is available. They should have the ability to access clear and accurate in-store inventory data from their computers or phones.
To implement this type of transparency in your supply chain, you need an efficient cloud-based platform. Choose one that centralizes your inventory data and can be easily updated in real-time across every platform.
This will allow you to provide customers with accurate information about when products are available for delivery or pickup.
3. Integrate the Right Systems
New channels are emerging for retailers. It’s important to take advantage of the channels that will propel you toward your ultimate business objectives.
Invest in a solid cloud-based infrastructure that can easily adapt to new challenges. This way, whenever market changes occur, you won’t need a major overhaul to your existing system.
You must be agile as new technology emerges.
Integrate the right systems for a smooth omnichannel experience. Make sure that your brand is not left behind as sales channels and customer expectations continue to evolve.
With all your relevant marketing tools integrated, you will be able to easily track the success of your omnichannel campaigns.
You will also be able to measure and act on important metrics. This is something that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
4. Automate Whenever it Makes Sense
In order to increase your ROI, one of the best decisions you can make is to automate your systems wherever possible. This is particularly true in large, high-volume B2C operations.
Do your research to find the technologies that can cut labor costs to meet your business’s return on investment requirements for capital equipment.
If you are outsourcing, your third-party logistics (3PL) needs to proactively review automation options as your volumes rise.
Read Small Business Marketing Automation Platforms
5. Offer a Consistent Experience
Another important tip for super-efficient omnichannel distribution is to provide a consistent experience. Familiarity breeds trust, and it’s important to maintain brand consistency across all your channels and marketing materials.
Everything needs to be aligned in order to avoid sending conflicting messages. This includes logos, language, brand colors, and images.
You must have a centralized model for all your asset production. This will allow you to provide a singular experience across all your different touchpoints, like email, Facebook, and your website.
By creating everything in one place, you can easily make sure that your story is the same in all campaigns. You will also ensure that there are no discrepancies across the different channels that you use.
6. Create Compelling Content – and Centralize It.
According to a recent survey, more than 50% of all shoppers have purchased a product online and picked it up in-store. However, only 31% describe it as a smooth or seamless process.
There are a lot of channels available to retailers, and consistency is essential to develop a strong brand presence across each one. One of the best ways to do this is by providing rich and compelling content across all platforms.
This can be on your website, mobile website, app, brick-and-mortar store, or a third-party marketplace such as Amazon.com.
Provide your customers with consistent, accurate product information at every place where the product is sold.
So, for instance, a customer may be viewing a pair of sneakers on your mobile app. They should see the same thing that a customer viewing on the third-party seller’s website sees. Also, a customer who sees a pair of sneakers in-store needs to be able to order that same size and color on your website later.
7. Pre-kit Common Orders
Pre-kitting is great if you have common orders that involve multiple SKUs (stock-keeping units). You can pre-build them to make your process even more efficient.
For instance, your WMS (warehouse management system) may flag two products that are often ordered together, as well as one other SKU. So, instead of picking three items for each order, you can pre-pick and box those two popular SKUs. This means you’re only doing a single pick to complete that order.
This process is done in volume, according to the smart insights provided by your omnichannel inventory software.
8. Handle Returns Efficiently
Many businesses treat returns as an afterthought. This is a mistake. In order to refine your omnichannel distribution system, you need to button up return processes.
Return rates are typically high for online retailers. If you don’t manage returns and refunds well, they can be a serious profit suck.
Over 21% of respondents to a survey list “Returns Management” as being one of the most important inventory management practices.
Picture 2. Supply chain statistics
One way to manage reverse logistics effectively is to create an efficient system that allows you to achieve each of the following.
- Foster collaboration between supply chain management and in-store operations.
- Work with vendors to help reduce returns.
- Drive continuous improvement in your reverse logistics.
This article goes into more detail on how to implement return strategies to improve your omnichannel distribution.
9. Optimize In-Store Experiences
Customers crave smooth and seamless shopping experiences. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, it’s not enough to simply optimize your digital channels. You also need to maintain brand consistency between both the physical and the digital world.
You can optimize your in-store experience by integrating technology to help you maintain the momentum that is established pre-purchase.
So, for instance, you could arm your sales associates with mobile devices. This will allow them to easily guide customers through their buying decisions. They will also be able to answer any last-minute questions the customers might have.
eMarketer reports that over 60% of physical stores have introduced tablets to their in-store experience. This is so they can continue the brand story they started online into their physical establishments.
This is something that you, too, can implement. It will help you create an in-store experience that your customers will absolutely love and appreciate.
And there you have it. 9 essential tips to help you improve your omnichannel distribution. Implement these tips as part of your overall omnichannel marketing strategy. You will be able to enjoy the efficiency gains and all the other benefits that come with this strategy.
What other tips do you know for improving omnichannel distribution? Let us know in the comments section below!
Jet Saini is the owner of DripDigital.com – a popular Digital Marketing blog that publishes detailed tutorials that focus on helping people to build and run a successful online business. He started his blog in 2018 and since then has helped hundreds of people reach their marketing, blogging, and SEO goals.
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