Omnichannel Commerce: How to Deliver Unified Experiences & Sell Everywhere

September 29, 2022

Omnichannel commerce why cohesive shopping experiences are key omnichannel commerce

Think about the last purchase you made online. Did you head directly to the retailer’s website, add the product to your cart, and complete the purchase there and then? Probably not.

There were likely several touchpoints throughout the process.

  • You discovered the brand on social media.
  • Then watched a live stream video.
  • After that, you browsed a marketplace to see if the product you were interested in was cheaper elsewhere.

Your brand’s customers are doing the same thing. And omnichannel commerce helps you connect with them across the sales channels they’re already using.

As Roxanne Ducas, VP of Marketing & Communications at 5WPR explains, “Brands need to embrace the idea that—from browsing to shipping—shoppers want what they want, exactly when they want it…

“A frictionless, omnichannel strategy is no longer a luxury and it has become an expected experience that consumers are willing to pay for.”

If you’re unsure on how to go from pureplay direct-to-consumer (DTC) selling to omnichannel, you’re in the right place! This guides shares:

So, what is omnichannel commerce?

Omnichannel commerce refers to the strategy of selling seamlessly between all of the online and offline channels your target customer uses.

It’s about how you as a brand manage the complex overlap between these touchpoints to make your brand experience feel especially unified.

Aside from your DTC website, an omnichannel commerce strategy can include marketplaces, mobile shopping, live streaming, and physical retail.

Omnichannel commerce is about meeting the customer where they are, and ensuring the journey is perceived as continuous from discovery through to purchase.

An omnichannel ecommerce strategy prizes brand consistency and an exceptional shopping experience no matter where or when a customer engages.

“What we’re building is a ground-up omnichannel technology architecture, so that at any point in that journey, from inspiration to installation, customers’ experience across multiple touchpoints—stores, online, contact center—is as seamless as possible.”

—Neelima Sharma, SVP of ecommerce, marketing, and merchandising
technology at Lowe’s (via RetailDive)

It’s all about strategically facilitating the ability to hop from one channel to the other for the customer that makes an experience truly omnichannel vs. multichannel.

Multichannel vs. omnichannel: what’s the difference?

Omnichannel and multichannel are often used interchangeably, but this is incorrect. There’s one main difference between both retail strategies:

  • An omnichannel experience allows customers to effortlessly switch between channels. Customers can hop back and forth between online and offline at all stages throughout the sales process. They can continue where they left off.
  • Multichannel commerce, on the other hand, happens when each channel is designed to work independently. For example, if someone purchases a product from a marketplace, your entire interaction with the customer happens through that platform. With multichannel selling, there’s less focus on the interplay between experiences than with omnichannel selling. With multichannel, you’re trying to get visitors to convert in the immediate channel they arrived on.

Omnichannel vs. unified commerce

Unified commerce is different from omnichannel in the fact that all customer touchpoints are connected using a single system.

You can think of it as one step above—or broader than—omnichannel commerce.

It’s when your business sells everything from a single back-end, but content is distributed to many channels and the content renders or adjusts to suit each individual channel’s needs.

#cta-paragraph-pb#Learn about the benefits of leveraging omnichannel analytics and data for more effective marketing campaigns.

The benefits of omnichannel commerce for your brand

More retailers than ever are adopting an omnichannel commerce strategy because it caters to the way modern shoppers discover and explore products.

The main advantages of an omnichannel approach include:

  • Blending into customers’ preferred shopping experience. Omnichannel means slotting in with how (and where) a customer prefers to buy. Take the 63% of consumers who start their shopping journey on a marketplace, for example. By excluding this sales channel and selling pure play or DTC-only, your business misses out on a huge opportunity to capture potential customers.
  • The chance to collect customer data for building relationships and loyalty. The more you know about your customers, the better you can market to them. A single sales channel shows the data most relevant to that platform. But when you unify data from social media, marketplaces, a mobile app, and your online store, you’ll have greater visibility into the types of content your customers engage with. You can use this data to tailor experiences to shoppers preferences, sell more, and entice repeat customers.
  • Increasing customer lifetime value. Studies show that omnichannel customers spend up to 20% more than their single-channel counterparts. Think about how much your average revenue per visitor could stand to skyrocket if each customer spent 20% more than in-store only consumers.
  • Diversifying your revenue streams and mitigating risk. The world of ecommerce moves fast. Algorithms and a given channel’s effectiveness change overnight, with the potential of diminishing your customer base instantly. You can mitigate risk by diversifying the sales channels you use. If Amazon deprioritizes your product listing because they’re introducing a private label version of the same product, an omnichannel strategy means you’ll have other channels to fall back on.
online customer behaviors chart omnichannel commerce
Based on data, shopper journeys are regularly swapping from online to offline. This is where omnichannel commerce can benefit your intentionally crafted experience.

6 sales channels to consider for your omnichannel strategy

Now we know the benefits of selling where your customers shop, let’s take a look at six channels you might include in your friction-free omnichannel ecommerce strategy.

An incredible DTC website

Some of the most aspirational brands out there are doubling down on their DTC websites.

And for good reason! Brands investing in exceptional, personalized experiences come out on top. But you don’t have to sell exclusively pureplay DTC.

Your brand’s ecommerce site can form just one part of your omnichannel strategy that grants the foundation for the best of both worlds.

Above all, you’ll want to have your site interplay with other channels in a way that feels seamless to your customer.


  • You ultimately own the customer relationship + collect important customer data you can use for retargeting.
  • Greater flexibility with product prices, promotions, descriptions, and inventory.
  • Ultimate control over a personalized experience, from website design to the unboxing experience of your product.
  • A chance to build incredible brand equity based on how you visually communicate your brand ethos.
  • You can invest heavily in crafting exceptional user experiences that convince someone to buy and optimize your checkout flow.


  • You’ll need to double down on including trust signals in the design of your storefront (you’re convincing someone to shop via an unfamiliar site).
  • Your reputation is on the line for any unsatisfactory customer experiences related to fulfillment or otherwise (unlike a marketplace or social media platform where there may be more understanding there’s a middleman involved.)
  • Some 37% of consumers still prefer the predictable/reliable shopping experience of major online retailers (think Target, Walmart, or department stores) over buying direct from brands. There’s tons of room for DTC brands to perfect their shopping experiences to better compete in this area.
online shopper preference omnichannel commerce
Source: The Direct to Consumer Buying Report

#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Scale content creation across multiple storefronts<cta-title>Designed for larger brands, Shogun Page Builder Advanced enables your team to copy and clone content across your sub-brands and various storefronts with ease.Learn more

Social commerce

Social commerce refers to selling across social media platforms. You can do this either by:

  • promoting your products in organic content and routing resulting traffic to your DTC website, or
  • via a social media platform’s native storefront options. This allows social media users to complete purchases without leaving the app.

Take TikTok, for example, which has exploded in popularity. 71% of people use the video-sharing platform to buy products they see in their feed. Another 58% use it for shopping inspiration.


  • You can educate and sell to your customers within the same app or platform, minimizing friction.
  • Often starts public/private conversations with potential customers around your products.
  • You can display social proof such as reviews, likes, or comments directly beside your product listings to build credibility.
  • Social channels are often great fodder for user generated content you can later monetize throughout your DTC website.


  • Not all audiences are active on social media.
  • Social platforms can take a cut from any sales you make through your storefront.
  • You don’t own the experience—customers can’t see a beautifully-designed website when they buy through a social storefront. So it’s essential to ensure there’s a connection you build between these touchpoints in some way.

Mobile commerce

Mobile commerce is any type of purchase that involves a smartphone, such as a mobile app or QR code scanned while in-store.

It’s big business for global retailers: studies show by 2025, consumers will spend $728.28 billion via their mobile devices, accounting for 44.2% of all online sales.

“With more and more people shopping on their smartphones, it’s important to ensure that your omnichannel commerce strategy includes a strong mobile presence. This means having a responsive website and mobile app, as well as offering mobile-specific features such as in-app payments and push notifications.”

—Luke Lee, CEO of PalaLeather


  • Reach the 29% of smartphone users who use their device to purchase products weekly.
  • Allow shoppers to switch from one channel to another, such as in-person to online, using a device they already know and are familiar with.
  • Accept popular payment methods such as digital wallets or contactless payment.


  • Investing in a custom mobile app can be expensive—in terms of both startup and maintenance costs.
  • Increasing app adoption can be tricky if it doesn’t already slot within a customer’s buying journey.
  • You’ll need a responsive ecommerce website with outstanding performance (which can be tricky with custom themes or regular ecommerce storefront options).
mobile shopping behavior chart omnichannel commerce

#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Scale content creation across multiple storefronts<cta-title>Designed for larger brands, Shogun Page Builder Advanced enables your team to copy and clone content across your sub-brands and various storefronts with ease.Learn more


Ecommerce marketplaces are platforms that connect buyers and sellers.

By listing your products for sale on sites like Etsy, Amazon, or Facebook Marketplace, potential customers can buy your products on platforms they’re already familiar with.

“We sell through our website and through Amazon, eBay, and other online marketplaces. We chose these channels because they are some of the most popular and well-known online marketplaces, and we believe that selling through them will help us reach more people looking for our products.”
— Kate Zhang, founder of Kate Backdrop


  • Reach almost half of online shoppers who start their product search on a marketplace.
  • Scale internationally using a marketplace’s pre-built logistics and supply chain process.
  • Quickly test new products by getting proof of concept without investing in site development or marketing.


  • Marketplaces take a cut of any sales you make through them.
  • Most marketplaces don’t share a customer’s email address or purchase data, making retention a harder battle to win.
  • Marketplaces can deprioritize your listings (or remove them altogether) if you don’t play by their rules.

Live shopping

Live shopping happens when potential customers watch an online livestream video and purchase products you’ve recommended.

It’s already a popular sales channel in China, and the rest of the world seems to be catching up. Studies suggest retailers will generate $35 billion via live commerce by 2024.


  • Build relationships with livestream viewers through question and answer sessions.
  • Reduce returns by as much as 40% since customers can see items they’re thinking of buying in 3D (versus static imagery.)
  • Many live commerce tools integrate with ecommerce platforms to give viewers direct product links and streamline the purchase process.


  • It’s difficult to keep a viewers’ attention span—your video needs to be fun and exciting.
  • Not all demographics regularly engage with livestream videos. It’s mainly Gen Z.
  • You’ll likely need a designated team to run your livestream videos, whose responsibilities include planning livestreams, driving awareness, hosting the event, and following up with attendees.
mobile to desktop experience omnichannel commerce
Tools like LyveCom allow retailers to enable direct purchasing through live commerce.

Brick-and-mortar stores

While the pandemic forced everyone to shop online, brick-and-mortar is still thriving.

More than half of all consumers still prefer to find new products in-store rather than online, spending $5.76 trillion in 2022.


  • Build stronger relationships with your customers through face-to-face interactions.
  • Depending on your location, in-person retail can be less competitive than online.
  • Fewer product returns since people can see and try on a product before buying.


  • You’ll need to hire and train retail staff to manage a physical store.
  • A retail store has lots of overheads, including rent, lighting, signage, and salaries.
  • You can only sell to people in the nearby area (unlike online, where you can ship to anyone, anywhere.)

How to sell omnichannel and meet customers where they are

Alright—are you convinced to sell omnichannel?

Before expanding into every new sales channel you can think of, here’s how to make sure you’re prioritizing the right ones—and generating extra profit (not an extra headache) through an omnichannel commerce strategy.

1. Figure out where your customers buy (identify your top channels)

You could spend hours (and thousands of dollars) employing a new sales channel, only to figure out that your customers don’t actively use it.

Do some research upfront and whittle down the list of sales channels your audience uses.

Survey your previous repeat customers and brand fans to ask:

  • Where do you start your product search?
  • Which social media channels do you actively use?
  • What type of content do you engage with the most?
  • What’s your favorite channel to purchase products and why?
  • Which channels have you used to purchase a product in the last month?

Similarly, build a customer journey map using sales and Google Analytics data.

In this step, you’ll want to pay close attention to referring domains with higher conversion rates than the average.

If you notice customers from live streams convert 24% better than organic social shoppers, for example, it’d make sense to expand your live commerce initiatives before going all in on native social storefronts.

2. Sync inventory across sales channels

Regardless of where you’re selling, customers expect a baseline quality of service from brands they buy from.

This includes availability of the product they’re interested in.

Let’s say you have 1,500 units of one particular SKU. You sell 1,400 through your online store, 500 in your brick-and-mortar store, and 470 through your social media storefront.

Off the top of your head, can you keep track of available inventory?

The last thing you want to do is promote a product that’s out of stock—or worse, take payment for a product and tell the customer they’ll have to wait six weeks until you restock.

An inventory management system (IMS) does this job for you. Tools like Multiorders, SKULabs, and Thrive Metrics are useful as you scale.

You’ll ultimately want to automatically sync your available inventory across each sales channel, even automating a “stock running low” message internal when the ideal reordering date approaches.

This will help you know when to replenish, pause your omnichannel marketing strategy, or update calls to action before inventory management ruins a seamless customer experience.

Similarly, use a product information management (PIM) system to keep product data up to date.

Platforms like Pimberly and Salsify update a SKU’s pricing, product description, and imagery across all digital channels in a single click.

omnichannel retail logistics omnichannel commerce
Some 52% of retailers have already connected inventory management systems to improve their omnichannel retail logistics

3. Give an incentive to shop direct

Selling DTC is advantageous for many reasons.

You collect data on customers you can use for remarketing, have complete control over a friction-free experience, and can increase profit margins.

And while you can sell to potential customers across other digital channels with an omnichannel approach, you’ll want to continue to funnel referral traffic back to your site with an incentive to shop directly.

This might be:

  • Free shipping from your store directly vs. on other channels
  • Discount codes exclusive to your site
  • Exclusive bundles (such as a 6-pack of your best selling products)

Promote these exclusive DTC deals to first-time customers you’re attracting through omnichannel.

  • Add a QR code in Etsy parcels that give customers 10% off their next DTC purchase.
  • Promote free shipping deals on your social media profiles.
  • Host live streams that sell special discounted bundles available on site, exclusive to attendees.

Either way, treat external sales channels as a way to acquire customers to your owned channel.

Once they’re in your sphere of influence, convince them to shop directly through your ecommerce store.

Both parties win: customers get a better deal; your business builds a strong relationship with customers and increases profit margins.

#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Scale content creation across multiple storefronts<cta-title>Designed for larger brands, Shogun Page Builder Advanced enables your team to copy and clone content across your sub-brands and various storefronts with ease.Learn more

4. Enable omnichannel fulfillment

Don’t stop your omnichannel commerce strategy once you’ve made a sale across each platform.

Keep your accessibility promise and allow shoppers to select two different channels to buy and receive their goods.

Buy online, pick up in-store is an omnichannel fulfillment method 84% of DTC brands offer to facilitate this.

Shoppers can buy items online and pick them up at their local store. In 2022 shoppers spent $74.24 billion on click-and-collect purchases.

Why? First, it’s more convenient.

Shoppers don’t have to wait 2+ days for an online-bought item to arrive. They can get it instantly by making the trip to a local store.

This omnichannel fulfillment method attracts sustainability-conscious shoppers, too. Encouraging shoppers to pick up items in-store reduces your brand’s carbon footprint.

You’ll also spend less on shipping costs, increasing profits while raising customer satisfaction.

Take big-box retailer Lowe’s, for example. Online shoppers are incentivized to use free store pickup over home delivery.

An estimated 60% of all orders choose this omnichannel fulfillment option.

lowes shopping cart omnichannel commerce

5. Enable cross-channel returns

Roughly one in five purchase experiences includes a return.

This returns process directly impacts customer loyalty and retention. In fact, some 85% of shoppers would avoid purchasing from a retailer they previously had a negative returns experience with.

In other words, once a return is issued, you might consider that customer gone forever.

To ensure a competitive omnichannel shopping experience, you’ll want to ensure shoppers can return items bought via one sales channel through another.

If someone purchases through your online store for example, allow them to make a return at their local store.

To do this, you’ll need to merge customer data, including purchase history and payment details, into one platform.

Use point of sale (POS) software that syncs in-store returns with your centralized inventory management system so any returned inventory can be listed for sale—provided it’s passed quality control.

Not only does it make the returns process easier, but it can impact conversions.

It’s been found that 47% of people are significantly more likely to order a product if they can buy it online and return in-store.

forberger tweet omnichannel commerce

6. Get the timing of your omnichannel expansion right

The possibility of reaching an untapped customer base can be tempting, but remember that the timing of your expansion is important.

As Ian Kelly, CEO of NuLeaf Naturals advises, “Don’t go omnichannel unless you can actually employ enough resources to market and supply your products everywhere.”

Just one unsatisfactory experience can put off 76% of otherwise-lifelong customers. Analyze whether you have the resources—including cash, a team, and software—to sell on each sales channel you’ve shortlisted.

Launch when you’re confident that sales on a new channel will run without a hitch.

Omnichannel experience examples from top brands

Now that we know what an omnichannel commerce strategy looks like, let’s dive into two brands already using this strategy to increase sales.


Adidas is one of the top sportswear brands in the world.

Contributing to its €21.23 billion annual revenue is a variety of sales channels that run parallel to their online store—including Amazon.

Shoppers looking for judo uniforms, for example, can browse Adidas’ range without going directly to the brand’s website.

They can see product photos, the price, reviews, and buying options directly within the marketplace, using their Amazon Prime benefits to receive products faster than buying direct.

adidas amazon omnichannel commerce

The key to their omnichannel experience is that Adidas attracts you with products listed on Amazon, and knows you might then venture over to Facebook where you see a video ad promoting their brand philosophy.

From there, these Facebook campaigns may direct you to their website where you read more about their philosophies and why you should buy their sportswear if you believe in those things too.

adidas ad omnichannel commerce

Moreover, once you’ve become a customer, Adidas continues omnichannel remarketing campaigns through email.

New subscribers are invited to an exclusive subscribers-only “collaborations archive”—a place for them to buy more Adidas products through its online store.

adidas mobile omnichannel commerce
Source: Really Good Emails

What’s important here is that the brand messaging, values, and value proposition matches all throughout those channels.

They may even repeat their campaign look and taglines throughout channels.

Adidas’ apparent coincidence to be “everywhere” you might be shopping is, in fact, deliberate and interconnected through an omnichannel strategy.

One channel facilitates the same messaging as the others, and shopping on one channel is interconnected with their site or home base even if you’re shopping via Amazon)

Warby Parker

Email is a prominent channel in many purchase journeys.

So much so, half of consumers say they buy from marketing emails at least once per month, with 22% of all campaigns being opened within the first hour of sending.

Warby Parker uses its email marketing platform as the starting point for omnichannel ecommerce. It prompts subscribers to download its mobile app for access to interactive features, such as a virtual try-on feature.

App users can use their device’s camera and overlay a pair of glasses on their wishlist to see whether they suit them.

warby parker mobile omnichannel commerce
Source: Really Good Emails

From this virtual try-on feature, there’s an in-app button to buy the glasses a user has overlaid via its ecommerce website.

It’s features like these that make purchase decisions easier for your customers. The brand facilitated an email to app-experience, that was seamless as a hop between channels.

warby parker mobile frames omnichannel commerce
Source: Insider

To top it off, Warby Parker encourages physical retail by announcing the launch of its new store through Facebook advertising.

The target audience for these campaigns is unclear, but there’s a strong chance Warby Parker uploads its customer list to Facebook Audiences to retarget people who’ve purchased online.

warby parker ads omnichannel commerce

The brand is ultimately moving their online audience to a physical location, and your experience with Warby Parker stays consistent no matter where you’re encountering them.

Take the omnichannel approach to sell where your customers buy

Modern customers expect to be able to buy whatever they want, wherever they want.

If you’re currently operating pure play only, weigh up the pros and cons of delivering an omnichannel shopping experience to your customers.

There’s a major opportunity cost for ignoring omnichannel, especially when you use other sales channels as a way to acquire first-time customers and divert them towards your online store.

#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Scale content creation across multiple storefronts<cta-title>Designed for larger brands, Shogun Page Builder Advanced enables your team to copy and clone content across your sub-brands and various storefronts with ease.Learn more

Elise Dopson

Elise Dopson is a freelance writer for B2B commerce and martech companies. When she's not writing, you'll find her in the Peak Freelance community or on Twitter.

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