Much has been made about the omnichannel approach as a way to improve the shopper experience and streamline the purchase process. And new research backs up this common sense assertion with hard data.

According to Salsify’s “2023 Consumer Research” report, 68% of global shoppers say they’re still likely to purchase a product in person. However, they’re not limiting themselves to brick-and-mortar — 38% say they look up products online while in-store, and 12% say they scan QR codes on products while shopping.

Customers want multiple ways to get the product data they need and want the ability to use these channels simultaneously. But it’s one thing to know what shoppers want, and it’s another to create omnichannel strategies that deliver both engaging and consistent consumer experiences.

Explore the basics of omnichannel experiences and gain insights to leverage them across the consumer’s journey of discovery, research, and purchasing.

What Is Omnichannel (And How Does it Work?)

Omnichannel commerce connects all customer touch points and channels to create a cohesive experience. While the term is often used interchangeably with multichannel commerce, the two approaches aren’t identical.

Here’s why: Where multichannel provides more than one way for customers to connect, it may leave several avenues untapped. For example, companies might make it possible for customers to reach out via phone, email, or direct website contact but leave out social media sites and text messaging.

The result is a framework that works as long as customers are willing to use the channels offered.

When it comes to an omnichannel experience, however, all channels and touch points are connected. While this requires more work from businesses to ensure cohesive response and effective sharing of data, the benefits are substantial.

Consider personalization.

According to Periscope Research, 80% of repeat customers say they will only shop with brands that personalize the shopping experience. Omnichannel makes in-depth personalization possible by connecting with customers across their preferred touch points.

What Are the Top Ways Shoppers Discover New Products?

While in-person shopping increased in 2022, the shift to digital discovery has struck. Three of the top five ways shoppers discover new products are online, according to the 2023 Salsify consumer research.

Not surprisingly, social media takes the top spot. From TikTok to Instagram to Facebook, shoppers are constantly inundated with advertisements and personal recommendations, making social sites a key component in omnichannel efforts.

Shopping apps are next, followed by browsing in-store. While these two approaches to discovery are fundamentally similar, online options make it easier for customers to find what they want, when they want it.

Rounding out the top five are search engines and catalogs. This speaks to the need for solid SEO to help capture customers just beginning their journey, and consistent catalog production (physical or digital) to keep repeat customers coming back.

Top 5 Ways Shoppers Discover New Products

  1. Social media
  2. Shopping apps
  3. Browsing in store
  4. Search engine
  5. Catalogs or brochures
    *Per Salsify 2023 Consumer Research

What Are the Top Ways Shoppers Conduct Product Research?

Once shoppers discover products they’re curious about, the next step is research.

At this stage of the customer journey, two components are critical: Having up-to-date product information and effectively displaying this information to communicate product features and value.

Salsify consumer research also shows that failure to facilitate discovery can negatively impact sales: Fifty-five percent of customers say they won’t buy products online if companies have “bad” product content.

But what qualifies as “bad” product content? Consumer research participants shared that not enough product information or low-quality product images were a huge deterrent. In fact, they’d be more likely to buy a product from an unknown brand or one with a bad reputation than they would a brand that has missing product information.

Great content also extends beyond your website. While 17% of customers use a retailer’s site to conduct research, the top three sources of product data are Amazon, in-store, and via search engines.

Top 5 Ways Consumers Research Products

  1. Amazon
  2. In store
  3. Search engine
  4. Retailer site
  5. Retailer app
    *Per Salsify 2023 Consumer Research

This data shows that it’s critical to keep Amazon and other ecommerce product pages up-to-date with pictures, pricing, and stock information, and ensure product data on your site that’s pulled by search engines is both accurate and compelling.

What does this look like in practice? Califia Farms enhanced its product detail pages (PDPs) by creating a single source of truth for product data that allowed them to optimize the discovery, research, and buying experience. This shift also allowed shoppers to quickly access product ingredients, nutrition facts, key benefits, and customer reviews.

To deliver a true omnichannel experience, a single source of product truth must extend across all platforms to ensure customers get the same data no matter where they start their research and no matter where they end up.

Case Study: Califia Farms

Learn more about how Califia Farms grew sales by 400% by leveraging engaging product content powered by a single source of truth.


What Are the Top Ways Shoppers Purchase Products?

Salsify also found that when it comes to purchasing products, in-store and retail sites are tied at 68%. Next, retail apps at 38%, drive-up services at 35%, and search engines at 24%.

These numbers make it clear that companies can’t afford to ignore omnichannel options. While just over two-thirds of consumers still complete purchases in-store or via retail sites, a full quarter of consumers are willing to purchase using search engine links — if they can easily find and click through to your product pages.

As a result, it’s worth investing in an omnichannel experience and purchasing strategy that lets customers start their conversion journey wherever, whenever, and then integrating this approach with a multichannel payment strategy that allows customers to pay however they prefer. 

The Future Is Omni

Omnichannel isn’t just a buzzword, and an omnichannel experience isn’t just a “nice to have.” It’s one of the top trends of 2023 and a critical component of the shopper journey across product discovery, research, and purchasing.  

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