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Multichannel vs. Omnichannel Marketing for Jewelry Brands

In “Jewelry Marketing in the Time of Coronavirus“, we discussed the importance of multichannel and omnichannel for jewelry brands. However, we haven’t really explored these two sales models in detail, and we never really explained how multichannel marketing is different from omnichannel marketing. We’ll elaborate in this blog post.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many jewelry brands that only sold their products through one sales channel realized how important it is to diversify and to not put “all their eggs in one basket”. Jewelry brands that were only available in brick-and-mortar stores scrambled to set up ecommerce shops. Even the brands with online stores rushed to optimize their ecommerce presence and reach customers in new ways – through virtual trunk shows, social commerce, and more.

So what’s the difference between multichannel and omnichannel? Which one is right for your jewelry brand, and how should you adjust your marketing efforts to match your sales strategy?

First, we should state the obvious: with single-channel commerce, a jewelry brand is selling through one channel only. For example, that brand may have a brick-and-mortar store, an Etsy shop, or an ecommerce storefront. Marketing for a single-channel brand is pretty one-dimensional and straightforward, since your goal is to simply drive foot or digital traffic to your store. However, it can also limit you, since customers are always moving between sales channels and often making purchasing decisions based on convenience and comparisons. Your preferred way of selling may not be your target customer’s preferred way of buying, and you’re not providing any alternatives.

With multichannel, a jewelry brand sells its products through a number of separate and independent channels. For example, the brand may sell on its own ecommerce website, in a proprietary brick-and-mortar boutique, in a retailer’s boutique, on a retailer’s ecommerce site, at trunk shows and pop-up shops, and more. For the most part, each channel acts as an independent silo.

With each channel, the jewelry brand may have different types of customers that respond better to different types of marketing. For example, the brand may make jewelry that appeals to many different generations; while the Millennials may prefer to shop the brand’s ecommerce site, the Boomers may prefer to shop in store or at trunk shows. As a result, the jewelry brand must also segment its marketing efforts. Visitors to the website may respond best to Facebook retargeting ads, while shoppers at the trunk show may enjoy personalized email invitations to future events.

According to data published in the Harvard Business Review, 73% of all customers use multiple channels during their purchase journey and will only buy once they feel like they have enough information to make an informed decision. To follow and track your customer journey seamlessly, you should strive to provide an omnichannel experience. Omnichannel is different from multichannel because the channels are not treated as separate silos. Instead, the jewelry brand expects that the customer will move seamlessly from one channel to another and then buy whenever she’s ready to buy. As a result, all marketing must also be integrated and follow the customer through her buyer’s journey or through the “funnel”.

One great example of a jewelry brand that’s embracing omnichannel and marketing is Kendra Scott, a brand that’s constantly anticipating how consumers want to experience and buy their jewelry. Within days of closing all their stores in March 2020, in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, they were able to implement curbside pickup, buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS), and ship from store options for customers. These changes now allow customers to shop conveniently and seamlessly.

In May, Kendra Scott introduced a virtual try-on tool, which allows customers to “try on” products without ever visiting a store. Fewer customers may be visiting retail stores, but they still want to have an in-store shopping experience in a safe way. Kendra Scott will have the data about the customer’s preferred product selections, so when the customer is ready to buy, the ecommerce site can give personalized product recommendations.

With omnichannel marketing, personalized marketing campaigns can follow a customer’s behaviors. For example, if a customer abandons her cart, she may receive an email reminding her that she can also pick up the product at her local store instead of waiting for the product to be shipped. Since the experience is better integrated for your customer, the resulting data is better integrated for you. You can gain amazing insights about your customers and their path to purchase.

In 2020, omnichannel is definitely an ideal model, since more consumers expect to be able to purchase their desired item in whatever way is most convenient to them. Today’s consumers are empowering themselves with information and shopping in an intelligent way, so they expect retailers to keep up with them – or get left behind.

However, not every jewelry brand has the resources to execute an omnichannel strategy immediately. For example, if you don’t already have an ecommerce store, then you’ll have to spend more time and money on creating the full digital experience for your brand. A brick-and-mortar-only store will want to start by embracing multichannel. They may even want to market their online presence differently to attract a new customer base. From there, a jewelry brand can focus on transitioning from multichannel to omnichannel incrementally. For example, a brand can start by experimenting with social commerce in addition to ecommerce. They can offer location-based recommendations for where the customer can try the products in person.

Omnichannel also has the potential to improve relationships between jewelry brands and retailers. I’ve heard from many jewelry entrepreneurs that they struggle to get their products featured in retail stores. Furthermore, they’re sick and tired of the consignment model and wish that retailers would buy their products outright. Retailers want to know that the products will sell before they decide to purchase inventory. However, If more direct-to-consumer jewelry brands followed an omnichannel model, they could focus on driving potential customers to all their channels – including their retail partners – with the goal of creating a seamless customer experience.

With this omnichannel model, retailers could serve as mini distribution sites, even if the products are only in store on consignment, and those retailers could fulfill orders for customers who live nearby. Over time, the jewelry brand could build trust with the retailers, and the popularity and profitability of the products could be established. It’s a win-win situation: the jewelry brand can gain more exposure by being on store shelves and at other physical locations, and the retailers win because the jewelry brands are treating them as an integrated channel, not as an “other”.

Not only can an omnichannel approach help you stay top-of-mind with your target customers, but it can also offer convenience and flexibility, two things they’ve been trained to expect in an Amazon age. They’ll be more inclined to buy from you when they’re ready, since the product selection and purchasing process will embody everything that makes shopping “fun”, as it should be, whether it’s being done online or in person.