3 Tips from eBay on How to Build Omnichannel Experiences

The line between the virtual and physical worlds has blurred, and because of this consumers are demanding seamless shopping experiences no matter where they are, what device they’re on, or the time of day it is. In order to keep up with this demand, merchants (and marketplaces, like eBay) are directing all of their focus toward omnichannel experiences built to maintain brand consistency no matter where, when, or how a consumer interacts with them. Nicholas Illidge, a VP from eBay, spoke about the importance of creating an omnichannel experience at NES 2013. Even though omnichannel has been on retailers’ minds for many years, there are many still not connecting their online experiences with their offline experiences in a way that is truly seamless and consistent.

Illidge went on to explain that creating omnichannel experiences is a key initiative at eBay, as they believe it is the only way to stay competitive in today’s global market. Here are three tips he shared with how eBay goes about creating their omnichannel experiences:

1. Transcend borders and ensure availability across the globe.

The internet has made it so that the world is a smaller place than it has ever been before. Today’s catalogue of ecommerce sites has become a sort of global mall, and consumers now expect brands to be able to sell and ship to them no matter where they live. Illidge spoke about how eBay believes that the first step in creating any omnichannel experience is building out the systems that intertwine digital behaviors with the physical world. For example, if a consumer in Australia purchases a product from a brand based in Stockholm then that consumer expects the brand to be able to deliver that product right to their door. If the brand can’t connect the digital purchase to the physical delivery of the product, then it doesn’t really matter what the brand’s digital channel mix looks like because they don’t really have a viable ecommerce operation. Ensuring a seamless experience from digital to physical is the foundation of all successful omnichannel ecommerce experiences, and in today’s market that means maintaining highly competitive shipping costs in addition to extremely swift shipping times.

2. Follow the customer and offer a consistent experience across all channels and devices.

Consumers spend the majority of their time online doing things other than visiting their favorite ecommerce brands’ sites, such as browsing social media, checking email, and reading articles on various media sites. Therefore, it only makes sense that ecommerce brands who want to be as accessible and consistent as possible meet their customers in the places they are spending most of their time. This includes building out robust strategies that not only ensure consumers are interacting with your brand on their favorite channels regularly but also maintain a certain level of quality for the sake of brand consistency. Illidge explained that at eBay their biggest focuses in this realm are a seamless mobile experience, an effective social media program, and integrations that allow consumers to shop with their favorite merchants on the eBay website. By focusing on the mobile experience, eBay is telling consumers that it understands which devices they are most interacting with the marketplace on. The brand’s focus on both meeting consumers on the channels they prefer and bringing the merchants they enjoy all to one place shows how the marketplace puts the customer first no matter what. Illidge went on to say that creating omnichannel strategies isn’t about executing across channels that you know you can do well on as much as it is about creating a brand experience based on how consumers naturally behave. Meeting consumers where they naturally spend time online, and doing so within the guidelines of those third-party environments, is the second layer of eBay’s omnichannel strategy.

3. Personalize experiences and create real value for each individual everywhere they engage with your brand.

Finally, creating a truly valuable omnichannel ecommerce experience requires you to accept the truth that not every consumer on each channel or device behaves the same. The context of a consumer’s historical behavior is just as important to crafting experiences as the context of where the experience is taking place. If a consumer regularly navigates to your site through links in their emails and then starts interacting with your brand on Instagram, then their experience should be quite different from someone who strictly interacts with your brand on Instagram. For example, they have obviously already given you their email address for some reason and, therefore, probably won’t respond as intensely to the more acquisition-focused messaging that the Instagram follower does. Personalizing the messages they receive on Instagram to reflect details like this is just as big of a part of creating omnichannel experiences as making sure you’re on the channel in the first place.

Today, consumers expect personalized shopping experiences no matter where they are or which channel or device they are on. This means creating valuable omnichannel experiences built on intuitive engagements that make consumers feel like they’re truly having one-on-one interactions with your brand every single time.

You can view the full discussion with Illidge below:

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