It's never too early to start thinking about your strategy for 2018. The results of our recent eCommerce study, The Evolution of Commerce: Omnichannel and the New Retail Customer, reveal that a positive omnichannel experience can have a lasting impression on customers, with 64% of respondents indicating that they are already enjoying effective omnichannel strategies.

Here are four omnichannel offerings your brand should consider in 2018 to help connect the in-store and online experience for your customers.

1)  A "Showroom" Experience

A retail location allows customers to engage with your brand and your products in valuable ways that digital channels can't offer, but opening inventory-heavy stores may not be financially feasible for many e-tailers. Brands who started out exclusively online are now opening small footprint "showroom" stores with limited or no stock. With this showroom concept,  orders are shipped straight to consumers from the brand's fulfillment center. Emerging brands can take advantage of the benefits of physical showrooms through "pop-up" shops and short-term leases, allowing them to reap the benefits of the in-store customer experience with less overhead. A 3PL partner can help with order fulfillment.

2)  Speed, Value and Convenience

As the lines between brick-and-mortar and online shopping continue to blur, customers have developed an "I want it now" mindset. This makes speedy delivery or an in-store pickup option essential for brands looking to deliver a true omnichannel experience. In fact, 33.6% of participants in our study said that faster delivery would increase their trust in a brand. But speed is not all shoppers are looking for today. Customers also value free shipping (90.7%), free returns/exchanges (76.8%) and convenient returns (55.1%), whether online or at a physical retail location.

3)   Mobile Apps

With many shoppers using their phones more to online purchases, many brands have optimized their sites for mobile. Yet, that might not be enough in today's digital age.In fact, consumers are 3x more likely to make a purchase through an app than they are through a mobile website according to Digital Commerce 360.  Despite that fact, only 22% of brands have a shoppable app, and many are missing opportunities to engage with and capture valuable data from their customers. By staying up to date with the latest mobile technology, brands have the ability to capture important data to create a customizable shopping experience for their customers and capture sales wherever their customers may be.

4)  Your Online and Social Media Presence

64% of our survey respondents made an online purchase from a new brand within the past year, indicating there's room for new brands to break into the market. The key to this is effectively using your online presence and eCommerce channel as a brand awareness tool. Having a good understanding of your customers and where they spend time online allows brands to use tools such as Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat to tell their stories and build trust with potential customers, driving sales and encouraging shoppers to visit physical stores and showrooms.

Putting more effort and resources behind developing a cohesive omnichannel strategy may be the most important initiative your brand can take on in 2018. To learn more about how adopting an omnichannel strategy can drive brand growth, download our study here.