Pursuing omnichannel eCommerce using Magento - good idea or not?
The world of contemporary digital commerce is slowly but inevitably taking a brand new direction, where omnichannel eCommerce becomes a cornerstone of the successful and competitive business.
The reasons for this are pretty obvious – people are getting more and more resources at their disposal, and that results in the need to provide services in a seamless and fast executing way. Simply put – the people are being empowered by the technology to easily pursue in all sorts of online purchases, and they pick the places to buy very carefully, based on the ease of making a transaction.
This triggered a whole new wave of upgrades in eCommerce realm, that finally created an entirely new approach – omni channel retailing!
Of course, there was a multichannel approach already devised prior to the emergence of this new approach, and still to this day, a lot of people are somewhat confused when they face these two terms. Simply, it is not that easy to comprehend the difference as the techniques used are rather similar.
The best way to explain this is to look at it from two different perspectives. Although both multichannel and omnichannel approaches to digital commerce use pretty similar methods, the difference is in the final goal. With multichannel approach, the focus of the retailers is simply to provide their goods through as many channels as possible. This often includes marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, Rakuten, Coolshop, and similar. Still, each channel, although often managed from a single point, needs to be managed separately. To put it simple – there is no connection between the channels at the customer’s end of the funnel.
Omnichannel approach on the other hand – provides a full interaction between the very same channels on the customer’s end of the funnel. It means that it is possible to combine purchase points with delivery points, and it all works seamlessly, in a single system that is controlled from a single point. To explain it a bit further – with omnichannel business strategy properly implemented, it is possible to combine physical stores, web stores, and marketplace listings in a single customer experience. It allows potential customers to choose any way available to actually make the purchase. As a result, there is very little chance that they will decide to give up on it if there is any kind of a problem.
For example, if the customer wants to buy shoes in the physical store, absolutely loves the model, but at that moment there is not a single pair of those in that particular store, there is no need to abandon the potential sale and lose that customer to the competition. It is possible to easily make a purchase online, in your own web shop, and serve the customer before he or she gets the chance to experience change of heart. In order to be able to really provide the full scope of the service, the omnichannel approach allows the delivery to be made either to that physical store, or directly to the customer’s home.
With all these options being on the table, there is very little chance that the customer will be lost. In a multichannel approach, there is no such engagement, and it does not allow you to maximise the conversion rates. This is the main reason why omnichannel business approach becomes so important, and that trend will only increase in the years to come.
Who should consider going omnichannel?
Although this approach really allows you to reach every single customer that shows some kind of interest, it is not a cheap option at all. The initial investment is rather large, as there are many functionalities within the system that need to be integrated, implemented, and coordinated.
This is the reason why going omnichannel is definitely an option that should be considered only in two cases:
• When you have already well-established sales operations
• When your starting budget is not strictly limited
Well established sales operations approach this problem in a way it should be approached. It comes as a natural evolution of what has been done to that point, and opens more opportunities to make sales, increase customer satisfaction, and increase conversion rates. In these cases going omnichannel usually does not represent a risk and does not put the company under more significant financial strain, as the source of the funds is actually the revenue that is already been generated. It is a sustainable option that almost always pays off magnificently.
The other approach is mostly used by financial institutions and well established brands who are looking to brand a completely new product or to put a popular brand online for the first time. In both of the possible cases, there is a good reasoning behind this approach. These companies have sufficient funds to cover initial losses, and they also have an army of top level marketers who are more than adept in shortening the time to market and establishing significant presence through all channels with minimal effort.
For the startup companies and the smaller businesses, going all out and trying to achieve omnichannel presence from the very beginning is seldom a good idea. They should take the process with an evolution path in mind. Strengthening the multichannel strategies prior to entering omnichannel realm is definitely the best possible approach.
How Magento fits this agenda?
Magento is definitely a market leader when it comes to eCommerce platforms and this happens with a very good reason. The platform has been proven over and again and it provides a lot of potential for upgrades. Upgrades are exactly the most important and the most effective way to slowly evolve your presence from multichannel to omnichannel, and that is why the majority of successful stories in the field have one thing in common – Magento based eCommerce operations.
Enterprises with huge reserves in terms of finances and resources can afford the luxury to go all in and opt for some of the most expensive options, but the regular businesses need to take a different path. Investing too much at the very beginning, with no guaranteed turnaround can be devastating, and opting for enterprise platforms that provide of the shelf solution is simply a risk too high.
Magento, given the fact that it is an open source platform, solves this problem. Investment in development and maintenance are acceptable and extremely scalable in this case. It is possible to start small, and then expand the reach with the upgrades.
The key to success using Magento as a backbone of the omnichannel eCommerce system is hiring the right people. The market is actually teeming with “experts” of all kinds, but the fact is that not many of them can actually answer all the needs you might have. This is the reason why it is not so strange that some companies change several web development contractors until they finally settle with one of them. As the new versions are launched on a regular basis, it is sometimes hard to follow the development with the human resources, and only the best Magento developer agencies are actually able to do it in a right way.
This is not something that should discourage you in any way. With approaching the problem properly and doing some research and tracking good references, it is not that hard to find good Magento developers in the UK or in most other countries across the globe.
Important thing to remember is that all the problems you might face using Magento as your eCommerce platform of choice for achieving omnichannel presence does not usually lie within the platform itself. Most commonly, it is the consequence of hiring the agency that can’t really answer the challenge.
Platform alone is an ideal tool for this, especially because it is an open source solution and its Community version is absolutely free to use.
Where does Magento stand compared to the competition?
Comparing Magento with other leading and most popular platforms out there is not always easy. It simply has to be analysed from the perspective of your business needs. For small and medium retailers, it is without any doubt an ideal option that will never really fail them. These companies have some presence already and that means that expanding their operations using Magento is a sustainable option by all means.
The start-ups on the other hand will face a different situation. In case where the startup companies can afford initial investment in Magento, it is definitely a good idea to take this path. Still, many startup companies have very limited funds in the beginning, and on top of that – they don’t have clear plans about the future direction of their online enterprise. In those cases, Magento competitors are better suited as a starting option. Of course, these competitors don’t have the potential to provide everything needed for a successful omnichannel endeavour, and the replatforming is definitely an option that would have to be applied somewhere down the road.
Magento is definitely a solution that positioned itself right in the middle. While some of the competitors are limited in capabilities, the others bring the initial price as a downside. Thanks to this, Magento easily enforces itself as a leading eCommerce platform for omnichannel operations. Its ability to fight for the customers in all segments of the market, even including start-ups makes it simply impossible to avoid when considering how to achieve this level of presence.
A few final words
Magento is definitely one of the top options for achieving omnichannel presence. It has all the flexibility and all the power needed to carry out everything properly, but it is a highly complex platform that is in this specific case used to carry out a very complex task.
This is something that shouldn’t be forgotten at any point. Simply, making a customer centric ecosystem of services is a very sensitive and rather complicated process that requires high attention to detail and it is of a paramount importance that you choose your contractors very carefully.
With the right approach, Magento will prove to be simply ideal for everything you wish to achieve. Still, tracking all the changes will prove to be a task that is not so easy to carry out. You will need all the help you can get, not only from the design and development perspective. You will need some guidance concerning steps that are the best ones to take in order to shorten the evolution time. Since there are so many elements, and each element of the omnichannel presence can be covered by various service providers, it can easily turn into a full scale chaos where you will be completely lost!
If you add the woes of implementing marketing strategies into a single unified system, it will turn out to be a really challenging environment that doesn’t forgive mistakes.
The reason behind this is simple – every 3rd party service provider will claim that they are the best solution for the segment they cover within your omnichannel system. The only way to succeed is to clearly identify the strategy that will allow you to get maximum out of the minimal investment in terms of time, effort, and money. The only way to do this properly is to hire the right people!
We at Studioworx take pride in the fact that our experience allowed us to filter the providers on multiple levels, and that we are able to consult you in a way that will help you achieve all these goals. We have the solution for businesses of all sizes, and we have the resources to make the necessary integrations and developments.
Feel free to contact us at any time, and we will be thrilled to answer all your questions!