Technology is advancing everyday it seems, and the more it is being integrated into our daily lives. As we continue down these innovative pathways, we'll continue to see technology become more and more important to our day-to-day living. The lines between what we do online and in real life are already fading into each other as one. And as we are changing our behaviours - marketers, salespeople, and customer support reps are needing to respond in the ways that we are now seeking. Instead of just thinking of either a desktop, mobile, tablet and/or an in person experience. It is all becoming one. As we are starting to seek a more holistic approach -- an omni-channel experience that customers can use as and when they require. For example, if you are in a brick and mortar store looking at the latest pair of sneakers, you are likely to check online for the best price. And maybe the store is out of stock, so when you go home you open up your laptop and order a pair online. This customer journey went through multiple different areas before making that final purchase. This example is a Multi-Channel experience. Whereas a Omni-Channel experience offers a more cohesive experience where customers have the opportunity to harmoniously flow through a marketing funnel over different channels on one device.
Omni-channel marketing seamlessly integrates the different communication channels that businesses use to communicate with customers. Such as starting on a business’s Instagram page, then following on to their Facebook page to read reviews and finally leading to their eCommerce website where the final purchase is made. This approach uses the customers' perspectives and interests to optimise the consistency of the business's marketing messages. By uniting the strengths of each communication channel, marketing teams can use omni-channel marketing to deliver a more consistent and effective brand message.
Omni-Channel vs. Multi-Channel
Most businesses will already have multi-channel experiences for their customers in place, only when each of those channels for interaction and experience are brought into harmony and leverage customer data in a way which adds value to the interaction, will they have a true omni-channel experience. Multi-channel refers to having a number of different aspects that aren't necessarily related, while omni - translated from the Latin for 'all' or 'every' - describes a more holistic approach.
According to research more than half of all retail will have been influenced via an omni-channel experience during 2020. And while online ecommerce continues to grow, customers still want to touch, experience and assess products in person as a way of reducing their risk before purchase.
However, the proof of how frequently in-store interactions fail to complete a conversion can be seen in examples such as Amazon's complete disruption of the US clothing market as it became the 4th largest retailer in 2015 and worth 52 billion US dollars in 2020.
With this in mind, many businesses have started to evolve their user experience into an omni-channel experience. Making the customer journey smooth, seamless and valuable. Whether window shopping through their web browser or walking through the doors of a physical store, consistency and quality of experience is key to their competitive advantage.
Building an Omni-Channel Strategy
Every business needs to develop its own unique omni-channel experience infrastructure, and you'll need to work closely with several departments in your company to develop this into a strong strategy that will work and help to improve your business’s bottom line. These key points will need to be well established before going ahead. Product, marketing, sales, customer support and customer success.
Once the business’s goals and objectives of your omni-channel are in place, this is where you can start planning your transition to this model.
Ultimately, your strategy should consist of a strategic plan to build a coherent, aligned experience across multiple platforms, which may include any or all of the channels that your business currently uses.
As this model is still a relatively new emerging concept, there is still time to start small and expand in the future. And if you need some inspiration, you can find plenty of companies that have already implemented fantastic omni-channel user experiences - such as Disney, Starbucks and Topshop.
Certainly, omni-channel user experiences still have a long way to go, and the scale of some of the integrations above may make the entire endeavor feel out of reach for smaller businesses to understand the range of marketing efforts that go into creating an omni-channel experience for your users.
But they are far off from becoming the “normal” in a world where omni-channel will be an accessible strategy for businesses of all sizes. Technology has come a long way over the past decade, and there's no doubt that future changes will make it possible for even the smallest of businesses to engage directly with their customers — no matter where they are, what they're doing, or what device they're using.