A Guide to Omnichannel Marketing
for Online Retailers

Online retail is the first choice for many people. In fields such as fashion and tech, the convenience of shopping online cannot be overstated. In the past year – a year in which high street retailers across the world were brought to a necessary halt in the face of the covid-19 pandemic – the use of online retail has undergone vast growth. It has led to greater demand which inspired many retailers to get into the online market.
Hence, competition in just about every market sector is rife. Whatever you are selling or providing as a service your competition will do all they can to take their share of the market, but you want it too! Online marketing covers many areas from social media to paid ads through blogging and email strategies. In the article that follows we are looking at one of the buzzwords in online marketing right now: omnichannel marketing.

You may not know what it means – and you’re far from alone in that, which is why we’re here – so we’re going to cover the following: we’ll explain what omnichannel marketing is, why you need to get on board with this essential marketing strategy, where it fits in alongside other marketing routines, and how to get it right. We’ll try to explain in simple terms that you can take away and work with to help develop your own omnichannel strategy. Let’s start with an omnichannel marketing definition itself.

Table of Contents

What is omnichannel marketing?

Marketing is a sector well known for its often-confusing jargon. It’s also an area of commerce that changes as needs be. Omnichannel marketing has moved very much to the forefront of online marketing for retailers, and we hope we can help you see why. So, what does omnichannel marketing mean? What is the definition?
We think that omnichannel marketing means ‘a strategy that aims to create a seamless customer experience from the first touchpoint to the last, regardless of the channel your customer is using.’ That is still a long way from explaining what omnichannel marketing is, so let’s take things a bit further.
Omnichannel Marketing for Online Retailers
We’re talking about using multiple channels – we’ll distinguish between multichannel and omnichannel marketing shortly – to ensure that whichever communication channels your customer uses, whether they are online or offline channels, your brand is the primary resource for them. With a good omnichannel marketing strategy in place, wherever your customer accesses your website or store, they will get the same seamless consumer journey they expect.
We used the word ‘touchpoint’ in the definition. By this, we mean the way customers interact with your brand. The important thing to achieve with omnichannel marketing is to ensure that every interaction your customer has with your brand seamlessly follows the previous one and leads to the next.
The way to do this – and we’ll elaborate further – is to create a simple to use, engaging, and satisfying consumer journey that your customers want to follow from beginning to end, whatever platform they are using to access your service. We’re talking about an integrated shopping experience. In other words, to ensure that whatever a consumer sees when interacting with your brand is relevant to the consumer.
A brief summary before we move on: omnichannel marketing is about giving your customers the best consumer journey from their first interaction with your brand to the final point in the transaction.
Up to now, you will have been bombarded with information on online marketing in many forms. The realization that omnichannel marketing is particularly important in online retail is a relatively recent thing, which is why it is presently getting plenty of exposure. To help you understand further, we’ll go on to a section explaining why this form of marketing is suddenly seen as a vital one.

Why is omnichannel marketing important for online retailers?

Among the many phrases and words that are put around when online marketing is discussed, one comes up often: personalization. Personalization plays a large part in the omnichannel marketing armory. Let’s think about why this is the case.

Imagine a consumer who often visits a brick-and-mortar store. Not a major, faceless superstore, but a dedicated smaller independent outfit. It could be a fashion outlet, or maybe a restaurant. In each case, the front-of-house personnel will get to know that person. A shopkeeper may address them by name, a waiter the same. This level of personalization is common in regular businesses and helps form a bond with and engender trust between the retailer and the customer.
Now think about an average online retail experience. A typical buyer’s journey looks this way – you access the store, find what you want, put it in your cart, and head to the checkout. That’s great, and for many people, it’s enough. But let’s go back a minute to that customer in the fashion store. She or he picks up a garment, the assistant comments and recommends accessories or other garments that go with the one the customer is possibly about to buy.
They do this with regular customers by knowing what they are likely to purchase and having prior knowledge of the customers’ preferences. This doesn’t happen with most online retailers, but with omnichannel marketing efforts, personalization can be taken to a level that is not possible with other marketing strategies.
Using off-the-shelf or bespoke software tools it is easy to implement an omnichannel marketing strategy that assesses customer preference and other important selling points such as a consumer that abandons a cart, or one that hesitates on a particular page, to name a couple of examples. What if, at this point, you automatically send a personalized message offering an incentive to return and complete that abandoned transaction? Or a pop-up could ask the dithering customer if they need any help?
We hope you see where we are coming from here in relation to the personalized consumer experience. Put yourself in the place of the consumer and think about how such personalized transactions would appeal to you. It makes for a much more pleasurable and seamless experience. But surely this is the same with multichannel marketing? And what about cross-channel marketing? Does omnichannel marketing replace these methods?
The answer is both yes, and no. Let’s take a look at the difference between these three marketing methods.

Does omnichannel replace multichannel and cross-channel marketing?

Now we have a decent idea of what omnichannel marketing is all about, we’re able to see that it offers an opportunity to personalize the consumer experience to a certain degree. It also enables a smooth and simple journey from beginning to end and enhances your brand while increasing the likelihood of the transaction being concluded. What, then, distinguishes omnichannel marketing from multichannel marketing and multichannel marketing? Before we look in more detail at what these marketing routines entail, let’s deal with the word ‘channel’. What are the channels you use for marketing?

Online and offline channels

What are the channels we use for marketing purposes? It’s an important point to consider, as the digital world is littered with multiple platforms and other resources that can be used to portray a relevant message. In general, the major digital platforms fall into the following classes:
Beyond these, you may use radio or TV ads, or physical ads in the press, or even maildrops. We’re most interested in the above digital channels, so let’s talk about each one, and where it fits in the omnichannel marketing strategy.
Omnichannel Marketing for Online Retailers

Social media marketing

Social media is a must for online marketing, but you know that! We’re talking mainly about Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. These platforms have a great effect on promoting businesses. In fact, statistics show that more than 50% of consumers use social media to research products. Furthermore, some 70% of consumers who have had a positive brand experience via social media will recommend the brand to others (think back to the piece about personalization).
Social media can be used to link to blog entries and video content – each of which we will talk about shortly – thus promoting the brand across many channels. This can take the form of multi-channel or omnichannel marketing, as we shall see. For engaging with customers – through the likes of Facebook posts, Instagram pictures, and Tweets, for example – you can take the personalization concept a step further and encourage the consumer to tell you what they want to see. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, so what about SEO?

Search engine optimization

SEO is a tried and tested – and essential – part of any marketing strategy. Put simply, it is a process in which you make your website or blog attractive to search engines, in particular the mighty Google. This is done by various means, including the publication of fresh, relevant, quality, and original content. The concept is simple: by using relevant keywords that people search for, your website will be returned in a search. The more people who go to your site, the more the search engines rank it highly.
That is the basic explanation of SEO – bring the viewers in and you should get more leads – but there is a lot more to it than putting the right words in the right places. There are SEO experts who keep up with the Google algorithms and can help get your site up the rankings for a small fee, and we recommend you talk to them about your omnichannel marketing needs. Next, we need to look at content marketing.

Content marketing

What do we mean by content marketing? Quite simply, any promotional material that you publish on any chosen platforms that is designed to bring leads to your retail store. Once this was limited to website content and blogs. Now, it is a wide world that has many different approaches. Content can include:
We think you get the picture! But there is one important factor to remember with all content, and that’s quality. Google is quality and relevance oriented. It also expects originality. All search engines are the same in this respect. You also need to promote your content, to entice people to read it. This is best done by social media. Content is king is a popular mantra, and in many ways this seemingly trite cliché is true. So, we now move on to talk about video marketing.

Video marketing

Video is the preferred form of content for the younger generations. If your customers are 35 and under, this is where you need to be strong. Have a look at these statistics for some idea of how powerful video content can be:
You cannot afford not to be on board with video content marketing in today’s world.
Video Logs – Vlogs – are the visual equivalent of the blog. You can make a video version of your blog content, for example, or product reveal videos. Adverts, promotions, any form of marketing can be in visual form, and the platform of choice is of course YouTube. If you’re not adept at using video creation software there are people who can help, and we strongly suggest you talk to them and see how they can help. Finally, the old favorite email.

Email marketing

Email may seem old hat in today’s advanced and fast-moving digital world, but in fact, it remains as effective as ever, and perhaps even more so. Some research claims that email marketing will return as much as 38% ROI, others even more. It’s cheap, it’s quick and it’s effective.
Personalization comes into this again – an email should always have the customer’s name in the display line – and you will find an email newsletter, perhaps announcing the latest products or talking about developments in your store, also gets great results.
Each of the above channels needs to be integrated for a successful omnichannel marketing strategy. We’ll talk about devising a strategy shortly, but first, let’s have a bit about the other marketing strategies we have mentioned.

Multichannel marketing explained

Multichannel marketing is a similar strategy to omnichannel marketing but with a less personalized approach. It could be as simple as running the same content over all the channels and platforms mentioned above. It may be you place an ad on several channels or put the same survey or questionnaire on many of your marketing channels. You need to understand the channels your customers use, and when.
The major difference between this method and omnichannel marketing is that the latter gives the consumer a more streamlined approach to the final purchase. The content you present or the message you send using multichannel may be of interest to some, but not to all. That you present using omnichannel marketing is of interest to the target audience you have uncovered.

Cross-channel marketing explained

In many ways, cross-channel marketing is omnichannel marketing with less attention paid! That’s a crude way of putting it, but someone indulging in this type of marketing may put up a semi-personalized message or advert that does not carry the weight needed. We don’t want to dwell too much on the alternatives as we have limited space but suffice to say it should be clear that omnichannel marketing is the most comprehensive and specific method of digital marketing for your retail store. Now we’re through explanations, we need to talk about what the consumer expects and why omnichannel marketing is the route most likely to provide it.

The omnichannel customer journey

Throughout this article, we have repeatedly referred to the ‘consumer journey’. This is important with omnichannel marketing as – as we have seen – the purpose of the process is to take the customer from step one to completion in a seamless and efficient manner whatever platform or channel they have opted to use. What do we mean by this? What does the modern online consumer expect? This could be crucial to designing your omnichannel marketing campaign, so here’s our tale on the subject.

What the modern consumer expects

The online consumer expects to see great customer service and a seamless experience, but that goes without saying. Potential customers expect to have an enjoyable and engaging consumer journey. But let’s get into detail and see what online shoppers said they expected to see when visiting a retail store, so you can know what you need to build into your site when you come to design a perfect omnichannel marketing strategy. These figures come from an in-depth survey carried out by a leading agency:
These 10 elements need to be incorporated into your online retail store if you are to get the customers you are aiming at. How does one begin designing an omnichannel marketing strategy?

Designing a strategy for e-commerce omnichannel marketing

Most industry commentators and marketing experts will tell you there are four basic steps involved in designing and implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy for an e-commerce store. Let’s have a quick look at how to create the ideal omnichannel experience by following these four stages.

Creating the ideal omnichannel experience

Step 1 – Get everyone involved
You are about to implement a new style of marketing that puts the customer and not the brand at the center of the strategy. This is a major change for all involved, and not only the marketing teams. Ensure that all involved have a say, as there is a role for everyone here, and you will find you soon have a template for a seamless omnichannel marketing strategy that works for all. Brainstorm offers, deals, products, and enticements that may bring more customers in.
Step 2 – Use the customer to get it right
Ask your customer base what you can do to improve their experience in your store. Look at the data you have regarding past customer behavior and highlight where the weaknesses are. These are the areas you need to implement streamlining within. Keep an eye on your customer data and all your channels to get an insight into how to optimize your marketing funnel. Listen to the customer – they are not always right, but they will come up with some interesting ideas for improvement.
Step 3 – Put a lot of thought into personalization
We cannot stress how important the personalization element of omnichannel marketing is. This is where you breed success, in giving your clients a customer experience that is geared towards them. This takes some work so investigate the available software and apps and think about who you need to target. Do you have a high cart abandonment rate? Is one product outselling the rest? Are customers getting to a certain point in the journey and leaving? All of these points need to be carefully analyzed and improvements implemented by way of greater personalization.
Step 4 – Constantly test your strategy
You can never sit back and expect a marketing strategy of any kind to be perfect from the word go. There will always be niggles with the routine, improvements that can be made, and areas that need attention. Take the time to keep up with performance data and make it a fluid strategy that can be changed to suit the moment.
Using the information above we believe we’ve given you a good overview of what omnichannel marketing is about, how it benefits a business, and how to start moving in that direction.
Before we sum up, here are a few brands that have got omnichannel marketing as good as it’s ever going to be.

Some brands that have got it right!

You’re going to use this data to put your brand among the success stories, so here we recommend some great examples of an omnichannel approach that are spot-on:


It should be no surprise that such a worldwide brand has a superb omnichannel marketing approach that begins with the stunning visuals of the website, moves through to the seamless booking service, and even incorporates a feature that acts as the hotel key! This is a very special customer journey, which is of course what Disney is providing as a product.


The UK fashion retailer Oasis is included as it takes the omnichannel marketing strategy further by mixing multiple channels – bricks and mortar stores with an online store and mobile app. In-store, you will find helpful assistants who carry digital devices that can access a wealth of information including stock, and make the entire experience far less stressful and more enjoyable. A great example of a brand that knows what its customers expect and how to create an amazing shopping journey.


The coffee-house giant runs a loyalty rewards scheme with a difference: it can be accessed by digital devices on multiple channels including the website, mobile app, by your phone, and also in-store. Once again, a great example of a streamlined omnichannel marketing strategy that puts the customer at the center of things.
That’s just three brands that have taken the omnichannel marketing concept and made it their own, and in doing so have created a seamless and effortless customer experience that encourages more people to use their services and buy their products.


We believe we have managed to deliver a decent description of the omnichannel marketing approach, and how it can benefit your online retail store. It is not a magic bullet that will make everything perfect, but a proven method of putting the customer at the center of the retail process. You want to work on the customer loyalty that happens when customers give a company repeat business over time. If you provide great value in your product or service, and the customer experience stays consistently good, then your business will reap the benefits of customer retention.
Take your time to read through again, and you’ll also find plenty more resources that should help you on the way to success.

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