All Hail Omnichannel

“Omnichannel” is undoubtedly one of the biggest buzzwords in the marketing industry today – but it’s a very important one. Omnichannel marketing offers consumers the ability to have a seamless, consistent shopping experience across all channels. In other words, consumers can browse through a store’s products on their smartphone, order those items on their laptop, and pick them up at the store without a single hitch.

However, firms often confuse omnichannel with multichannel marketing, its predecessor. Instead of focusing on total integration, the multichannel approach focuses on maximizing the individual performance of each channel. This leads to a few problems:

Multichannel marketing makes you play favorites. You will inevitably focus most of your time on your best performing or best potential channels, leaving the rest in the dark. During the initial rise of e-commerce, some firms dove headfirst into driving internet sales after hearing “brick-and-mortar is dead.” While it’s true that e-commerce is growing rapidly, 92.2% of US retail sales are still brick-and-mortar today. Focusing on one channel over the other can leave you with too many untapped opportunities.

An inconsistent customer experience across channels results in a weaker brand. If a shopper orders a shirt on your mobile app and selects in-store pick-up, and finds that the shirt is actually out-of-stock at the physical location, that frustration will be directed at you. When firms focus on adding as many channels as possible to widen their reach, they often neglect the bigger picture by making the picture too big.

Rather than measuring individual performance, omnichannel marketing is driven by synergy. In order to survive competition, omnichannel has quickly spread from retail to other industries such as banking, hospitality and travel. While offering a seamless customer experience is easier said than done, it is the direction of the future. To be blunt, the future has already come; consumers today not only desire omnichannel benefits, they expect it.