The last few years have created a number of changes within the online furniture industry, including the customers’ need for improved options and flexibility.
One way to create this is through an omnichannel experience. Omnichannel ecommerce is a reliable way to provide your customers with a flexible, customizable shopping experience.
In this blog, we’re going to discuss what omnichannel ecommerce is, how it differs from multichannel ecommerce, and how you can start building your omnichannel ecommerce furniture business.
What Is Omnichannel Ecommerce?
According to HubSpot, “the omnichannel experience is a multi-channel approach to marketing, selling, and serving customers in a way that creates an integrated and cohesive customer experience no matter how or where a customer reaches out.”
An omnichannel shopping journey meets customers where they are in their buyer’s journey. Whether they are interested in purchasing custom furniture from their home, connecting with your salespeople in-store, or a combination of the two, omnichannel ecommerce systems allow each customer to have a seamless experience.
What Is the Difference Between Multichannel and Omnichannel Ecommerce?
Multichannel ecommerce allows businesses to sell across multiple channels, including through:
- Mobile applications.
- Online stores.
- Brick and mortar stores.
- Social media platforms.
Omnichannel ecommerce, on the other hand, allows consumers to continue buyers' journeys between multiple channels. For example, if you order your morning coffee on a mobile app and then pick up your order in the store, this is an omnichannel ecommerce experience.
Pros and Cons of Omnichannel Ecommerce
Overall, an omnichannel ecommerce experience allows your customers to shop in the ways that are best for them. From personalized marketing to customer retention, there are a number of advantages of choosing this strategy for your business.
One of the main benefits of an omnichannel ecommerce strategy is the personalization it allows your customers to have.
Through geolocation, marketing tools, and comprehensive options, you can create a personalized buyer’s journey for each of your customers.
For big-ticket items, in particular, convenience is a must-have for your business. With an omnichannel experience, you automatically give your customers a number of options, such as:
- Buy online, pickup in-store. This gives your customers the convenience to buy online when they are ready and to pick up their purchase in the store.
- Buy online, return in-store. Some online-only stores partner with online retailers to allow customers to drop off their returns in a physical store. For example, Kohls allows customers to bring in their Amazon returns.
- Purchase in-store, ship to your house. If your customer prefers to make their purchase in-store but wants the product to come straight to them, this option is perfect for them.
- Order online, pick up curbside. Many retailers began to utilize curbside services during the pandemic, and they’re certainly here to stay.
- Research online, visit in-store, and finalize your purchase on your phone. Many buyer’s journeys have multiple steps — one of which may be research. Allow your customers to explore the products with convenient information to find the best products for them.
By giving your customers a seamless experience the first time they shop with you, — including through consistent information, payment options, and shipping choices — you’ll be able to encourage them to come back time and time again.
Some customers don’t want to come into the store; other customers don’t want to shop online. No matter their preference, by providing each customer with the experience they want, you’ll be able to reach a wider consumer base and increase sales for your furniture business.
When a customer feels like their buyer’s journey was created specifically for them, they’ll know they can rely on your brand to give them that same experience again.
Overall, the biggest con is the operational challenges this can create for your business, as your customers will go back and forth between the in-store and the online shops before making a purchase. But, with the right ecommerce software, you can remedy these issues!
Without an integration to a POS or ERP system, in-store vs. online availability can be a big challenge for omnichannel business owners.
The right system, however, can provide you with a solution to this, creating an online and in-store product inventory based on availability in a shoppers’ delivery region.
First, the costs of shipping can vary, which might create internal inconsistencies or issues. For example, local vs out of area shipping costs will drastically differ if digital experience reaches additional customers. Integrating with your ERP system can help keep this in sync.
As with many other areas of business in 2022 and beyond, return policies need to be more flexible. When a customer is shopping online, it’s important to remember that your return policy often needs to be more adaptable than the return policy for in-store sales.
This might include extending the period the customer has to return the item, partnering with local, in-store businesses or shipping providers to give customers more return options.
When creating omnichannel experiences, it’s crucial to engage your in-store personnel. Ensure your customers can easily interact and connect with brick-and-mortar stores — and vice versa.
Customer Data Privacy
Customer data privacy is crucial to maintaining a successful, reputable ecommerce furniture business, so make sure your ecommerce platform is PCI compliant and secure — and ready to handle ever-changing safety requirements.
How To Start Building an Omnichannel Ecommerce Strategy
Since in-person shopping is no longer the only part of the buyer’s journey, it is important to offer an additional, seamless way for consumers to purchase your products. If your shopping experience — website, store, etc. — is not convenient, consumers will look elsewhere.
If you have not launched an ecommerce website yet, then now is the time.
If you already have an ecommerce site, then there are a number of other aspects to focus on, including:
- Engage your store employees so they use the website as a resource and a selling tool. By connecting with your customers regardless of their shopping preferences format, you’ll be able to create an incredible customer experience for everyone.
- Ensure your furniture ecommerce platform supports frictionless, seamless omnichannel experiences. Your buyer’s journey needs to be consistent. Each step should feel like progress — one channel picking up where the other left off.
- Ensure the software you choose to support your business has the ability to grow. Your business needs to use software that grows and updates with the ever-changing consumer habits/demands, PCI compliance needs, and other industry advancements.
Find the Right Ecommerce Software for Your Business
If you’re ready to get started creating an omnichannel experience for your customers, it’s time to find the right furniture ecommerce software for your business.
Based on your business goals, there are a number of features you will need. Top ecommerce solutions have a number of features to help improve your business, including:
- Automatic system updates that ensure your furniture business has the most up-to-date technology.
- Marketing tools to capture your customers’ attention.
- Merchandising tools that help your audience find the products they want.
- Omnichannel sales tools that engage your in-store employees.
- Robust integrations.
Learn more about finding the right furniture ecommerce system for your business by reviewing our Furniture Ecommerce Software Buyer’s Guide today!