eCommerce omnichannel strategy blog

eCommerce omnichannel strategy: 6 best practice tips from experts


Written by Kimberley Hughes

So you launched your journey with an eCommerce store, quickly growing to a bustling online platform and a brick-and-mortar shop that reaches customers nationwide. It’s an exciting place to be, and one retailers across the world are finding themselves in, but one that comes with its own set of challenges.

One of the biggest hurdles is keeping everything consistent and ensuring customers who walk into your retail store get the same experience when they head online to order again. Retailers are staying customer driven by embracing omnichannel strategies which help them offer a consistent experience across all the platforms and devices that customers find them on.

To help you build an omnichannel eCommerce strategy, we’ve put together a guide containing best practice advice from experts and a guide for integrating new technology into your operations.

Helpful person holding lightbulb

Insights from industry experts

If the industry agrees on anything, it’s that the prime motivation of an omnichannel strategy is to ensure that no matter what platform a customer finds you on, and no matter how they like to shop, you can meet their expectations. Best practice tips for your omnichannel eCommerce strategy include:

1. Know who your customers are and how they shop

According to Help Scout, this is what will set the trajectory of your omnichannel strategy. Audiences have fragmented across a growing number of social media networks, with original mainstays like Facebook constantly evolving to keep up with upstarts like TikTok. Knowing where your current customers come from and how your target market discovers new products is essential for growth.

To effectively know your customers and their shopping behaviours, start by leveraging data analytics tools and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. These tools can provide insights into customer demographics, purchase history, and online behaviour.

Additionally, try analysing your website's Google Analytics data to identify the most visited pages and the customer journey on your site. Use social media analytics to understand which platforms drive the most engagement and conversions.

By combining quantitative data with qualitative insights, you can create detailed customer personas that guide your content creation, product placement, and marketing strategies across all channels.

Keep your customers informed with automated notifications

2. Plan the customer journey

It sounds challenging given what we just said about fragmented audiences, but understanding your customers then planning their journey will go a long way to ensuring they’re getting a consistent experience. This journey should be seamless, and customers that navigate from your website to your app should be seeing the same information on both without any extra steps.

To plan an effective customer journey that ensures a consistent experience, start by mapping out each touchpoint where a customer interacts with your brand, from that first discovery through to post-purchase support.

For example, imagine a customer discovers your brand through an Instagram ad, then visits your website to browse products. If they decide to continue their shopping via your mobile app, their cart should be synchronised, allowing them to pick up right where they left off without any hassle. Additionally, product information, prices, and promotions should be consistent across all platforms.

3. Prioritise customer service

Shopify notes that the more channels in your strategy, the more places you’ll need to offer excellent customer service. Many companies are responding to customer queries on social media platforms, both in chat and in post comments, and some have added chatbot functionality to their websites to keep up with demand.

To prioritise customer service across multiple channels, consider implementing an omnichannel customer support platform like HubSpot, Intercom, or Gorgias. These platforms enable your customer support team to manage inquiries from a single dashboard including from your website, social media, email, and more. This eliminates the need to switch between different platforms and ensures that no customer query falls through the cracks.

As an example, a customer might ask a question about a product in the comments section of your Instagram post. Instead of managing this inquiry separately, your customer service team can respond directly through the omnichannel platform, ensuring a timely and consistent response.

Automate your shipping process

4. Be ready to adapt

Retailers are constantly looking for a competitive edge, both in their products and in the way they reach customers. To keep your omnichannel strategy up there with the best, it’s important to be adaptable and regularly review your strategy, your customers, and your competitors’, to see what could be better.

Being ready to adapt means staying informed about industry trends, customer preferences, and competitor strategies, and then being willing to make changes to your omnichannel approach accordingly.

An example might involve adapting to changes in consumer behavior, such as an increased preference for shopping through social media pleatforms. If analytics show that your audience is engaging more with your brand on platforms like Instagram or TikTok, it might be time to ramp up your social commerce effort,by setting up options like shoppable posts, or runninglive shopping events.

5. Use technology with integrations

Well this advice is music to our ears. Sprout social says a successful omnichannel strategy depends on using technology solutions that integrate with each other. These integrations allow for a seamless flow of information across different platforms and services, boosting efficiency and enhancing the customer experience.

For example, integrating Starshipit with your eCommerce platform (e.g., Shopify, Magento) and a huge selection of on-demand couriers, streamlines the order fulfillment process from the moment an order is placed to when it is delivered. This integration enables automatic order import and updates, label printing, and the sending of tracking information to customers.

This cuts down on manual work and speeds up deliveries, making your customers happy with fast, transparent updates. It's a straightforward way to smooth out your operations and keep your customers in the loop, which is key for a top-notch omnichannel experience.

6. Understand personalisation

With all the technology at your fingertips, you can understand more about your customers than ever before. As McKinsey and Company notes, this personalisation has become a key pillar of successful omnichannel strategies. The firm says that not only should you be tailoring communications and offers to your loyal shoppers where possible, but there should be ways for customers to engage beyond buying your products.

Case studies and real-world examples

What does this look like when it all comes together? On paper it can be difficult to see what it looks like when you put all these tips into practice, so we’ve found some case studies that display the dos and don’ts when implementing an omnichannel strategy.

Starbucks case study

Case study #1

Starbucks rewards customers for treating themselves

The global coffee chain Starbucks has always been efficient, and offers welcoming and recognisable retail locations no matter where in the world they are. Rather than resting on its laurels, it created an app and expanded the number of touchpoints it has with customers. People looking for a caffeine boost can use the app to skip the line at their stores, track loyalty bonuses and get personalised order suggestions.

Case study #2

The Party People brings magic to shoppers

Do you hate trying on clothes but also want to know what you’d look like dressed as Wonder Woman? Well, leading Australian costume store The Party People have a Magic Mirror that can solve that problem. It’s an augmented reality screen that lets customers virtually try on costumes and then make a purchase once they’ve found the perfect outfit.

Geoff Luyk, our Head of Customer Success says the Magic Mirror is “a testament to the power of thinking outside the box, demonstrating that innovation can not only engage The Party People’s customer base but also spark inspiration throughout the entire retail network.” Technology like this can expand your omnichannel strategy by blending personalisation with new ways to shop and engage with products, all while adding a bit of fun for people to share on social media.

Case study #3

Could an omnichannel strategy have saved Toys ‘R’ Us?

An examination from Retail Touchpoints investigated Toys ‘R’ Us and its 2017 bankruptcy, speculating that some of the key issues that contributed to this downfall could be avoided with an effective omnichannel strategy.

The world-famous toy store couldn’t compete with online shopping and didn’t try to engage with customers on new platforms in the same way as their competitors. New owners of the brand WHP Global have specifically used the word omnichannel in their vision for the store’s revival, citing a desire to adopt experiential technologies, provide a range of shopping options and build connections with their customers.

The role of technology in omnichannel strategies

As you’ve probably noticed by now, it’s technology that makes an omnichannel strategy for your eCommercestore possible. By using the unique strengths of different platforms and services, you can have a well-integrated set of technologies to really make your life easier. Here are some of the key tech features we’ve talked about and the roles they play in your omnichannel strategy:

eCommerce platforms

No matter which popular platform underpins your business, your eCommerce software will set the stage for your omnichannel strategy. Ensure your chosen service:

  • Works on multiple device types.
  • Integrates with your other technology.
  • Has a reliable checkout that makes life easy for customers.

Inventory management systems

Whether you’re online only or starting up a ship from store strategy your inventory management system needs to:

  • Accurately track stock in real-time across multiple locations.
  • Ship from the location that’s closest to the customer for cheaper shipping rates and faster delivery.
  • Improve inventory turnover.

Shipping fulfillment software

A shipping fulfillment software solution like Starshipit should support your omnichannel strategy by:

  • Seamlessly integrating with major eCommerce platforms and leading shipping providers.
  • Offering branded email notifications and tracking pages to provide a consistently excellent customer experience.
  • Measuring KPIs and allowing you to create reports to ensure couriers are performing to your standards.

Reporting tools

It’s impossible to measure the success of your omnichannel strategy and react to changing trends without the right data. A reporting tool should help you:

  • Analyse sales and provide centralised customer data.
  • Automate elements of the data collection and reporting process.
  • View order fulfillment status and other KPIs in real time.

Wrap up

Condensing the magic of a successful omnichannel strategy into just a few hundred words is tough, but understanding the key features of them and why retailers are committed can help your business succeed.

It’s a lot to take in, and you may need to make some changes to the technology you use and the way your stores operate, but as long as each decision you make keeps customer satisfaction in mind, you’ve got a great shot at making your omnichannel strategy work.

Ship from store eBook

Get your free copy now

For many retailers, an omnichannel strategy is going to result in new shipping options, like using their store as a fulfillment centre. To learn more about how you can make this a successful transition, download our eBook, ‘Getting started with ship from store’ today.

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Kimberley Hughes

Kimberley Hughes

Kimberley is Starshipit's Content Marketing Lead. Her days are filled with creative storytelling and innovative content strategies. Off the clock, she's an all-seasons iced coffee fan, a Catan strategist, and skincare explorer. For a peek into her world, find her on LinkedIn.

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