Real life and the virtual one are slowly becoming indistinguishable, especially when it comes to shopping.

The digital sea isn’t what it used to be, now there are ferries crossing it constantly to make connections between online-first companies and their brick and mortar shops, as well as joining the traditional brick-and-mortar retailers with their shiny new eCommerce sites. In the midst of all of this, everyone still has to keep omnichannel in mind.

Omnichannel, the New Consumer Constant

It wasn’t that long ago that you’d go to the store and buy what you needed, or you’d check your email from home.

The first iPhone, released just a decade ago, started the world down the rabbit hole that has become omnichannel shopping. You can shop from your home PC, then add something to the same cart with your tablet on your commute, pay for it all on your smartphone and then pick it up in person at a nearby store.

The logistics of all of this are incredible, and only getting more interesting. Some experts are predicting a future with a high level of engagement with autonomous vehicles that might act as delivery drones, as well as mobile fulfillment hubs that keep both stores and warehouses stocked with the right merchandise at the right times. The retail supply chain has forever been altered by the expansion of omnichannel practices.

Retailers in the 21st Century

Staying ahead of the eCommerce wave can be terrifying for anyone with a brick-and-mortar store, but you don’t have to fear death by returns management or sheer progress and evolution. Your brand is still relevant in an omnichannel world, provided you make it one that people care about. More in-store engagement can keep customers coming in the doors, especially if you marry the in-store experience with well-branded eCommerce.

Start with easy changes like accepting returns in your store rather than forcing customers to mail them back to your reverse logistics facility. While they’re in your shop, they might feel like browsing a bit and then pick up a few items they weren’t expecting to find. Or maybe your branded app will generate an alert about a flash sale that you’re having while they happen to be in the parking lot.

There are lots of ways to do retail and omnichannel, but the most successful retailers make sure to add something extra to the in-store and online experiences. Omnichannel isn’t just about moving between devices anymore, it’s about staying inside the branded experience as you do.