Strategies for Building Omnichannel Retail in 2021

Omnichannel retail isn’t just another eCommerce marketing buzzword. It’s a survival strategy for success in an ever more connected world. Between 2018 and 2022, people are expected to spend over an hour extra on their phones every day.


And they aren’t using that time to make phone calls. According to eMarketer, social networking is up 11 minutes per day and mobile video is up 10 minutes per day. Ride-sharing apps will lose 2 minutes, but other major app categories will pick up that time.

Connected shoppers expect to interact with brands via multiple touchpoints and enjoy the same experience no matter how or where they interact. And that’s the experience a cohesive omnichannel retail strategy provides.

In 2021, here are the hottest strategies for building omnichannel retail.

Buy Online Pickup in Store

What was a rarity before the COVID-19 pandemic became as commonplace as social distancing and face masks. The option to make a purchase online and then pick up at the store picked up steam and even as the virus subsides, it is clear buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS) is here to stay. Whether the product is available locally or needs to be shipped from another location, buyers want the option to skip delivery fees and pick up the item in person. In some models, the buyer pulls into a designated spot in the parking lot and sends a text while other models have the customer walk in the store. Either way, this is a must-have option because your customers already expect you to have this in place. According to Yieldify, 40% of retail orders happen through the BOPIS channel.

Sending shoppers to a designated area in the store leads to more sales. And when you offer shoppers the ability to skip the shipping wait, they will take you up on it. According to Kohl’s, 80% of Americans live within 15 miles of one of their stores. By offering BOPIS and in some cases, guaranteeing the order will be ready within an hour, Kohl’s continues to experience double-digit growth.

The key to successful BOPIS is to provide an easy online shopping experience paired with effortless pickup. Retail customers crave convenience. 83% of shoppers say that convenience is more important to them now than it was 5 years ago.

Shoppable Social Media

Capitalize on the shopper’s social media scroll. The ability to buy now in the viewer’s feed converts in a big way. To make the leap from engagement to conversion, enable social media shopping.

The Big 3 of social media shopping are Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. These apps are visual by design, making them perfect for turning browsers into buyers.

With this channel, potential customers click through a sponsored post to your website or can even complete the purchase while remaining in the social media app. A special discount code or offer for social media shoppers provides further enticement for an impulse purchase.

High-quality photos and videos are the backbone of social media messaging.

FabFitFun uses shoppable pins on Pinterest to drive customers to a website landing page to complete the purchase.

The strategy is working. The subscription service is experiencing a follower growth rate of 1% per week, outstripping the competition.

Could Tik Tok be the next big destination for shopping? Instagram and Facebook are popular with older users. But retailers with their sights set on younger audiences know Tik Tok is where it’s at.  First came website URLs in the bio, then Shop Now functionality to videos, and now the Hashtag Challenge where users shop products associated with a sponsored hashtag.

Gen Z can’t imagine life without social media, so if that’s your target audience shoppable social media is a must.

Merge the On-Line and In-Store Experience

People still like to shop in person. But that doesn’t mean they ditch their smartphones while doing so. Digital interactions are still happening in the store and they influence 56 cents of every dollar spent in a brick-and-mortar store.

Cosmetic retailer Sephora’s omnichannel strategy seamlessly blends the on-line, in-app, and in-store experiences. Data analysis of their customer’s shopping habits revealed that customers researched products heavily online before making an in-store purchase. By heavily promoting in-store sales when shoppers browse products online, they are converting these promotions at three times the rate of their other digital ads.

Once in the store, shoppers can use the website to get more product information and read reviews and the Sephora app even allows shoppers to digitally try on a product before making a purchase.

Ikea uses a similar technology to sell furniture and home furnishings. Shoppers upload a photo of their room and then see how different pieces of furniture will look. The new Ikea app replaced not only the company’s iconic catalog but its fragmented approach to marketing.

Now, the app includes thousands of shoppable images (think they borrowed a page from Pinterest?), the ability to create profiles, and even links to the user’s Ikea Family rewards card. The move is paying off.  Digital sales are now 16% of the company’s overall sales, up from 10% in the prior year. And the app made the transition to implementing their BOPIS strategy much easier.


Retail Dive did a deep dive into how customers use their smartphones in stores. They found that customers continued to research products and look for coupons even after they walked into the store.  Over half were still comparing prices as well. Informed shoppers expect an omnichannel experience and pricing is one key aspect. The price you display should be the same on all channels if you want to create a true omnichannel approach.

Finally – Omnichannel Isn’t Multichannel

It’s easy to confuse omnichannel with multichannel strategies. Just keep in mind that with multichannel strategies, multiple sales channels follow separate lines to the customer. With an omnichannel strategy, one large channel that consists of separate and distinct channels leads to the customer. Omnichannel strategies keep all channels cohesive and presenting a unified brand experience. Online content and phone support are cohesive, brick-and-mortar stores and catalogs use consistent messaging. In the end, the customer always feels the same, no matter how or where they interact with your brand.

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