By Tom Caporaso

Accessing information now is as easy as opening up a phone and tapping a button. With more access points than ever, businesses, especially in retail, have to be in-tune to the various touchpoints of their customers. Those touchpoints, which encompass mobile phones, in-person visits, and e-commerce traffic are no longer in silos, relegated to individual initiatives and departments. Omnichannel, which holistically integrates all customer touchpoints, is the newest strategic advantage that retailers need to own and dominate. But many have failed to commit.

The reason for this lack of commitment has stemmed from a reluctance to cannibalize sales in brick-and-mortar stores and contribute to the decline of foot traffic most retailers are facing. But, when the data is studied, a pattern emerges, which speaks to the true behaviors of consumers. According to a recent study, which looked at the shopping habits of strong omnichannel shoppers vs. one-channel shoppers, omnichannel shoppers weren’t actually the culprit of declining traffic. Compared to single-channel shoppers, omnichannel consumers:

  • Spend 4 percent more in-store; and
  • Spend 10 percent more online; and
  • Those who experienced a positive omnichannel experience spent as much 40% more than customers who encountered a negative, high friction experience

So why are retailers reluctant to embrace an omnichannel experience for their customers? Because of the initial stigma surrounding the concept of “showrooming.” Showrooming, which is a term that refers to a customer visiting a store, examining a product, and then buying it online for a lower price, was a concept that was popular several years ago, when retailers were trying to find reasons behind initial revenue declines.

Because of that thinking, large retailers initially shied away from investing too much in technologies that could disrupt their shopping ecosystems; but the popularity and growth of online shopping were eventually too obvious to ignore. So, retailers eventually started forming early strategies to capture these new types of customers.

But, the implementation and migration towards e-commerce came slow, which led to a gradual attrition of some of the biggest brands of the 1990s and early 2000’s, like RadioShack and Sports Authority. Because of this reluctance, Amazon grew to eventually account for 43 percent of all U.S. online retail sales and 53 percent of all the e-commerce growth in the U.S.

Despite all the events of the past, there’s now a new opportunity with omnichannel, which will allow retailers to cultivate more valuable and loyal customers. For retailers to seize the moment they should:

Increase their focus on mobile technologies, given that mobile-commerce is growing at a higher rate than e-commerce overall; and

Make the in-store experience as connected to other touchpoints as possible by letting customers “Buy Online and Pick Up In-Store” and integrate loyalty rewards that are easy to achieve and track both online, in an app, or in a store; and

Make sure customer service is consistent and easily accessible across all shopping environments.

But, this list is not exhaustive or tailored. Each retailer needs to revisit their e-commerce, mobile, and in-store plans and focus their efforts on collaborating and combining all channels into a modern shopping experience. By changing the environment, customers will not only appreciate your brand but will make an even larger investment. Omnichannel isn’t just the future, it’s the present—and it can’t be ignored.

Tom Caporaso is the CEO of Clarus Commerce, a recognized leader in e-commerce and subscription commerce solutions.