The pandemic has been good for e-commerce. Small business owners who already had an e-commerce presence before COVID reported higher online sales. Small business owners who decided to start their own e-commerce business during this time didn’t do too bad either.
To sell well online, you need to pick your e-commerce strategy and stick to it. This includes determining if you will be omnichannel or multichannel.
What is Ecommerce?
We need to understand what e-commerce is. Ecommerce or electronic commerce is defined as transactions that are conducted through the internet. (Shopify) Every time individuals or companies are buying or selling products or services online, they engage in e-commerce.
The term e-commerce also covers other activities, including online auctions, internet banking, payment gateways, and online ticketing.
Developing your eCommerce Strategy
As a small business owner with an online presence, if you are selling online – a service – you are an e-commerce business. If you are a chiropractor and are charging your patients to learn how they can do “self-care” in their own homes in the form of “health and wellness webinars,” you need an ecommerce strategy. If you are selling products, such as a brick-and-mortar retailer turning into an e-tailer, you need to have an e-commerce strategy.
The next question is which e-commerce strategy? It would help if you understood the difference between omnichannel or multichannel.
What are we talking about when we say “channel?” We have video, e-mail, social media, digital advertising, or pay per click, online public relations, affiliate marketing, search engine optimization, your blogs, and your website in the digital world.
Then there are traditional channels – direct mail, word of mouth, print ads, and billboards. We refer to those as traditional marketing strategies or offline marketing.
Omnichannel Ecommerce Marketing
Omni means all. That means you can think of an omnichannel strategy to use all marketing channels, with the customer being the focus. In this omnichannel marketing strategy, customers can use any medium such as social media or your website, and their purchasing experience will be seamless and consistent.
With omnichannel marketing, your focus is on the customer experience. Every channel you have available to that customer should engage with the customer. Your omnichannel marketing strategy’s primary goal is to ensure you are building a strong relationship between your brand and your customer.
When you are implementing the omnichannel marketing strategy, your customers are receiving consistent messaging and buying experience with your brand, no matter what channel they use to find your product or services. By paying attention to how your customer interacts with your brand or company and ensuring it is done through all channels, you emphasize customer happiness or the total customer experience.
When you adopt an omnichannel marketing channel, you create a consistent voice and story that is told consistently through all channels. This type of strategy is beneficial because it helps your customers become familiar with your brand and values. Your logo, messaging, and brand colors become easily recognizable to customers who have engaged with your brand on multiple channels.
Multichannel Ecommerce Marketing
Multichannel Marketing means using as many channels as possible to get the word out about your product or services. In this strategy, the two most common online channels are social media and email marketing.
What’s the difference between multichannel and omnichannel? Multichannel, you tend to be more focused on selling your products or services over several channels and less focused on the customer or the user experience. The strategy usually uses two or more channels to reach potential customers, such as social media, email marketing, or pay per click.
Developing a multichannel e-commerce marketing strategy is less involved than developing an omnichannel e-commerce marketing strategy. While you may be using many channels, you’re less focused on pinpointing your ideal customer. However, your checkout process should be seamless and efficient with your multichannel strategy.
Which e-commerce marketing strategy is best for your business?
To understand which e-commerce marketing strategy is best for you is to know how real-world examples do it. Disney is probably the best example of omnichannel marketing.
While omnichannel is an immersive customer-centric strategy and offers a smoother customer experience, it tends to appear to be a logical choice over multichannel. If you’re starting a business or converting your retail business to omnichannel, it requires significant resources and the right people in place.
While omnichannel may appear ideal, small businesses may be better off starting with a multichannel e-commerce strategy.
To decide which is best for your business is important to understand that to provide an omnichannel e-commerce experience requires robust IT investment and prowess, the right infrastructure and tech staff, and the vision to execute. Do you have that capability and necessary resources?
The majority of e-commerce businesses (about 82%) out there are doing multichannel e-commerce marketing strategy. Wind River Tiny Homes is implementing a multichannel marketing strategy, utilizing their social media and email marketing to grow their brand and sales.
Regardless of whether you develop Omni or multichannel eCommerce strategy for your e-commerce, the flexibility to adapt and integrate new channels will determine whether or not your business will be successful. It is necessary to decide on which one best suits you and stick with it.