The unprecedented conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic threw the spotlight on a trend that has been around for over a decade: omnichannel.
There is already rising consumer expectations regarding omnichannel retail in action. 2020 saw an explosion in curbside and in-person pick-up as consumers sought new ways to shop.
Omnichannel retail not only implies a brand’s presence in multiple channels (e.g. e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores), but the integration of inventory, customer service, and sales to offer a seamless transition between channels based on what the consumer finds most convenient.
Consumers now expect to hop back and forth across channels to see the product in-store and shop online (the showroom experience), research online and then buy in-store (to touch and feel the product), read reviews and compare products while in the store, and so on, according to a report from Delighted by qualtrics. Even though the survey is based on the American market, the same is almost true globally.
While previously, the omnichannel retail strategy was considered too expensive or complicated to execute, two major developments are forcing retailers to consider it as not just an option but a necessity: on the one hand, the pandemic has forced consumers to adopt new shopping behaviours they may not have otherwise. A phenomenal number of Americans turned to online shopping to stock up while staying at home in 2020.
On the other, recent developments in IT infrastructure and data analytics have made it possible to track a customer’s journey across multiple touchpoints, from social media ads and interactions to the website, app, chat, customer service calls and email, and finally back to the brick-and-mortar store. And it’s not just Gen-X and millennials who’re driving omnichannel retail. Older shoppers are opting for in-person and curbside pickup to get products faster while adhering to social distancing norms.
Retailers including Target, Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Nordstrom recorded phenomenal increases in online sales while in-store sales fell, as per the report. In 2020, the service saw a 500 percent growth, which drove a nearly $10 billion increase in the company’s digital sales 2020.