Skip links
Hand pushing virtual symbol of online shopping

Guide to omnichannel retail

Table of Contents

The impacts of lockdown restrictions have lasted far beyond the pandemic itself – with eCommerce retail peaking at 29% higher in May 2022 than it was in February 2020. Within this, digital consumers have become more discerning – demanding an omnichannel approach that meets their needs quickly.

This by no means spells the end of high street shopping. By focusing on omnichannel experiences, retailers can reap the benefits of brick-and-mortar as well as online stores. But what exactly do we mean by omnichannel in retail industry, and how can we capitalise on it?

What is omnichannel retail?

Omnichannel retailing combines the in-store and eCommerce experience to enhance the customer journey. An omnichannel retailer will combine their high street store data with their online sales, which helps to connect with customers at multiple touchpoints.

Retail omnichannel can target buyers at various points in their journey. For example, the customer may search for an item online and then choose to pick it up in-store. At the point of purchase, they may be asked to enter their email address and consent to marketing messages. From one single shop, they’ve already been contacted through SEO, in-store and email marketing.

What is an example of an omnichannel retail strategy?

The best omnichannel retailing examples use a diverse range of touchpoints. Take Starbucks, for example – known for its ubiquitous presence on every corner. Starbucks controversially bucked the digital trend in 2016 and hit high-street consumers with out-of-home ads.

Today, it leverages both. Customer loyalty is encouraged with the Starbucks card, using either a physical or mobile payment. In turn, this syncs with the Starbucks mobile app, where those looking to get their caffeine fix can pre-order and find their nearest store. There are also newsletters to help them stay ahead of the latest recipes, and even Spotify integrations.

What is the difference between omnichannel and multichannel retailing?

The key difference between omnichannel and multichannel retailing is that with omnichannel, the brand uses its data at every touchpoint. Some good multichannel retail examples include homeware brands such as Argos.

These brands essentially offer the same product catalogue online as they would in store, so it is an overall more siloed approach. While this is still convenient for customers, the experience may not be as seamless and consistent as an integrated omnichannel retailer.

By comparison, an omnichannel retailer integrates every phase of the customer journey to inform the next step. Whereas multichannel might keep data in silos, like on the merchant website, omnichannel retail passes this information along. This helps to personalise the experience and enhance customer engagement using Rich Relevance – for example, an in-store purchase at Starbucks might trigger an automated mobile notification suggesting complementary items based on previous orders. By understanding customers’ preferences and behaviours, such as ‘people who bought this coffee blend also bought this pastry,’ Rich Relevance upscales the basket size and fosters a trend-driven shopping experience, ultimately increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

There are merits to both methods, and the most effective means may depend on your business type, product diversity or customer base.

Pros and cons of omnichannel and multichannel retailing

Omnichannel Pros and Cons



Multichannel Pros and Cons



Benefits of omnichannel retail

Though these integrated channels may be resource-intensive to set up, there are several benefits to omnichannel retail. Online vendors can:

Meet (and exceed) customer expectations

Post-pandemic retail has increased customer expectations – with 73% of consumers expecting brands to meet their unique needs. Data-led omnichannel retail can leverage key information such as transaction history to recommend products and make the next purchase easier.

Increase customer touchpoints

It takes an average of eight customer touchpoints to make a sale. The omnichannel retail experience offers maximum exposure at key stages of the journey, from awareness with out-of-home ads to repeat custom with mobile notifications.

Build loyalty and retention

Omnichannel eCommerce helps to improve customer engagement through retargeting. For example, retailers can automate personalised emails based on customer interactions like browsing or previous purchases. Vendors can even tailor special offers to customer preferences to increase lifetime value.

Understand customers better

Retail giants like Amazon create a seamless experience by focusing on user data. This involves measuring every user interaction from search data to dwell time and transactions. Omnichannel retailers use this data to power segmentation – attracting larger volumes of customers that fit the same attributes.

Increase sales and revenue potential

Omnichannel marketing guides users down every step of the funnel. For example, at the awareness stage, potential customers may have seen out-of-home marketing campaigns or social media ads.

Later, at the consideration or evaluation stage, customers may read reviews and product comparison blogs. Then we have the all-important checkout – a great place to upsell or even reward shoppers with a one-time discount.

Improve operational efficiency

Customers are not the only ones who are time-poor. On top of better profitability, the omnichannel retail model improves operational efficiency. Vendors no longer have to rely on guesswork for their marketing campaigns. Automated notifications based on user history help to bring in repeat custom.

This could be anything from mobile notifications to email newsletters. What’s more, the omnichannel customer experience speeds up the checkout process – memorising user details for a seamless customer experience.

Why is having an omnichannel strategy important?

As customer demands grow, retailers must meet these expectations with omnichannel experiences. In particular, an omnichannel sales strategy can help to:

  • Increase brand awareness: Consumers don’t want analysis paralysis – they want a reputable brand that’s accessible through various channels.
  • Speed up checkout: Memorising customer data overcomes painstaking login processes. An omnichannel retail environment can improve the store experience too, helping buyers skip the line with in-store pickup.
  • Improve profitability: The best omnichannel retail business will use transaction history to upsell items at the browsing or checkout stage, pushing average order values up.
  • Encourage customer retention: It’s cheaper to retain than acquire new customers. The omnichannel retail model relies on marketing channels like push notifications or email campaigns to keep users coming back for more.
  • Save time: Multiple channels make online shopping easier, helping customers find the answers they need through live chat, FAQs or in-app help. This saves on retailer resource, while an automation-led marketing strategy targets buyers in real time.
  • Gain competitive advantage: Fickle, digital-first shoppers will go elsewhere if they can’t find what they need easily. Cross-channel functionality gives them the freedom to buy on mobile devices, in-store or both.

How to build and implement an omnichannel retail strategy

For an effective omnichannel retail shopping experience, vendors need to recognise the key elements of the strategy. These may require additional funds or resource, but will provide significant returns when done right.

What are the key elements of an effective omnichannel retail strategy?

Omnichannel retail marketing relies on:

Seamless integration across all channels

Vendors need to ensure their channels are aligned. For instance, social media retargeting draws its data from customer transactions to recommend the right products. Failure to integrate channels could result in buyers seeing irrelevant ads or switching off entirely.

Personalisation and targeted marketing

Great retail omnichannel examples like Starbucks target users with a laser focus. Personalisation can take the form of geotargeting on mobile devices, customised special offers or product recommendations. What’s important is to learn from user data – dwell time, transaction history and demographic trends.

Inventory management and optimisation

Great omnichannel retail management starts with the inventory. If one channel is promising products that the warehouse cannot fulfil, customer satisfaction will freefall. Rather than relying on a single channel, omnichannel helps retailers optimize their product listings for various touchpoints. They may sell larger items in physical stores, while products that are easier to shift can stick exclusively to eCommerce.

Unified customer data and analytics

Your target audience is giving you data with every brand interaction. This could be anything from social media sales channels to website browsing and search queries. To get the best from this, your data all needs to feed into one single channel. This will help you to create customer profiles and refine your messaging accordingly.

The key steps to building an omnichannel retail strategy

Now that we know what an omnichannel eCommerce strategy needs, how can we execute it? This five-step approach will increase brand reach and have your customers coming back for more.

Assess your existing channels and customer touchpoints

Similar to the SOSTAC method, the first step is to look at your situation – that is, your existing channels. Look at key conversion metrics such as email open rates, click-through rates, sales volumes, repeat custom and average order value. Attribute each of these to the relevant channel to determine which one is most effective.

Identify your technological requirements and investments

Once you know what’s working and what’s not, it’s time to outline your requirements. Is your POS omnichannel? Can you link up your retail store inventory to your eCommerce one or vice versa? How are you collecting data from channels such as email and using this to target customers?

Conduct staff training and alignment towards your omnichannel approach

Introducing new technologies will only work if staff are invested. Let everybody know their new roles and how they can collaborate with one another. Designers will need to be informed about new creative based on data-led campaign messaging, and so on.

Be patient and take the time to train your staff. This may be with third-party vendors or through your own internal teams. The more you invest in learning, the better optimised your campaigns will be.

Test and refine your strategy

Just as staff training will need testing, so too will your omnichannel strategy. With one unified data analytics platform, you can see how each of your sales metrics measures up. Use trial and error such as A/B testing to determine what works. Some users may interact more with mobile apps, and others on desktop. You should review this regularly as customer needs change.

Execute your plan and measure the results

You can only improve what you can measure – so make sure your dashboard has clear visibility into the ROI of your channels. Use both automation and your own intuition to make observations. If something that worked in seasons gone by is no longer effective, why? Could it be that the products are discontinued, or the app was updated?

This is why you must always go back and measure your progress – helping to improve operational efficiency over time.

The key steps to building an omnichannel retail strategy

Omnichannel in the retail industry comes with its own challenges, just like any new tech. To get the best ROI from this strategy, vendors must first overcome these barriers:

Legacy system integration and data management

Often, sales data is siloed, and vendors may not be able to share data across multiple platforms.

Maintaining consistent brand experience across channels

A great in-store experience is nothing if a mobile app isn’t up to the task. Vendors need to make sure customers are delighted at every touchpoint.

Balancing online and offline investments

With new marketing channels available, online sellers may question whether they should invest in digital channels in place of, or alongside, offline channels.

Logistical and operational hurdles

Diversifying channels may be difficult at first, such as adding eCommerce deliveries to traditional stores. Vendors need to consider the costs and resources required to make this transition.

Tools and techniques to tackle omnichannel challenges

To overcome these barriers, vendors should invest in tools such as:

eCommerce platforms and CMS

Omnichannel eCommerce is easier with the right shopping platforms. These can provide crucial data on sales and stock inventory, which in turn will inform the content you create in your CMS.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software

Turn one-time buyers into lifelong customers with CRM software. This will help to power loyalty schemes and get a better understanding of your customers – thereby informing future product decisions.

Point of sale (POS) systems

Using an electronic POS or ePOS system gives you better visibility of sales, helping to inform logistics teams and fulfilment centres.

Data analytics and reporting tools

The best reporting tools combine every part of the customer journey. This helps to create a more consistent brand experience, integrating plug-ins and taking payments securely. Trust Payments’ Converged Commerce is ideal for omnichannel retailers who want to deepen customer loyalty and futureproof their business.


The ongoing omnichannel vs. multichannel debate continues to favour omnichannel commerce. In an age where customer experience comes first, more and more brands will harness both offline and online channels for success.

Working across diverse touchpoints allows retailers to target customers at every stage of the funnel. What’s more, it provides personalised interactions, speeding up the sale to increase loyalty. But it cannot be implemented overnight – it needs robust data gathering and upgrades from legacy systems. Retailers would be advised to take this step slowly, testing what works for their customers and continually optimising the user journey.

This comes easily with help from Trust Payments. Drawing on customer journey data and secure payment systems, our omnichannel retail tools can help brands expand and diversify. Customer demands are only going to grow – and omnichannel is the secret to staying ahead.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Omnichannel retail refers to targeting customers through a range of channels. Unlike multichannel retail, omnichannel coordinates data from all platforms to help make decisions, such as retargeting or upselling.

Omnichannel commerce speeds up customer journeys by offering several options. Users may interact with a brand online and offline, such as on an eCommerce website or in-store. Omnichannel commerce integrates both to offer a consistent brand experience.

Omnichannel shopping takes users down the marketing funnel from awareness through to loyalty. It uses multiple channels to do this. Brands such as Starbucks might attract a new customer with a print ad, before inviting them to download their app and targeting them with email newsletters.

At the heart of retail success is customer satisfaction. By providing a frictionless checkout experience, you can encourage customers to return again and again. By enabling quick transactions, reducing waiting times, and supporting various payment options, these systems cater to customers’ diverse preferences. They make shopping easy.

Security statement

Security is our top priority at Trust Payments and we strive to ensure that all data is kept secure at all times We keep all customer data safe with AES256 encryption, SSL Certificates, and a minimum of TLS1.2, between your website and our datacentres.

Our systems are scanned quarterly using the Qualys PCI Platform, an independent Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) and approved vendors – Omnicybersecurity (UK) & Forgenix (US) – to ensure compliance with the security requirements of the card schemes.

We follow a number of rigorous security procedures on a daily basis including, but not limited to, continuous monitoring of our perimeter, dark web monitoring, and internal checks to ensure that CIA triad is maintained at all times.

Keep up with the latest in payments!

Fill the form below to sign up to our mailing newsletter.