Going from multichannel to omnichannel, what does it mean?

Omnichannel or Omni-channel… something is new and trendy when you can’t find one consistent spelling of it across the web. Omnichannel is a multichannel tactic that provides consumers with a seamless shopping experience across channels. For example, one of your consumers has been browsing your website, and plans to stop and shop for their top choices in-person on the way home from work. What if you, the brand, knew what that consumer needed to purchase based on her browsing history, preferences or shopping behavior? There would be numerous benefits you could offer to provide an impeccable omnichannel experience.

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Omnichannel Trend

Technology has had a huge impact on shopping, both in-store and online. Consumers expect personalized and consistent experience across all different channels.

Omnichannel retail creates a 360 degree view of your consumer and provides seamless experiences online and in-store. In this ever changing technological landscape, offering a strategic omnichannel approach is not easy but possible.

The idea of engaging with consumer using a variety of channels (multichannel) has been around for many, many years.But what does it mean going from multichannel to omnichannel?

  • Seamless Experience: The modern consumer has no time to waste; they expect the same cart data, inventory, account information and purchase history on all channels. Consumers should be able to pause an activity (whether that’s purchasing, returning an item, or conversing with your customer service department) and resume it later from an alternative touch point. Each piece of the journey should be uniform and complementary; therefore, marketers need to provide a seamless experience, regardless of the channel or device used.
  • Consistency: Consistency is the key to get consumers’ loyalty. Brands are not judged for what they make or sell, but for the overall journey or experience they create to connect the products and consumers. For most retailers or brands, 80% of revenue comes from their 20% loyal consumers (yep, the old 80/20 rule). For instance, Starbucks blurs the lines between digital and the physical world by geo-fencing the membership card creating a flawless omnichannel experience.
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  • Optimized Context: By utilizing the technology of multichannel and by considering how different channels might be better suited to different interactions, omnichannel can take the user experience to a whole new level. The desktop has a large screen, mobile is portable and the store is physically present therefore contradicting the previous point, optimizing for one channel often means designing an experience that is uniquely tailored to that channel.

Not all multichannel experiences are omnichannel experiences! Just because a consumer can reach you via a website and through a retailer doesn’t mean you are omnichannel; having a consumer purchase online and pickup the product in-store and then return the product via the mail is a good start!

In the age of the consumer, it’s important to remember that a true omnichannel experience needs to be designed around people and their needs, not around the business and their channels. Putting consumers at the center of your business is fundamental for any launching a successful omnichannel experience.