As consumer behaviour evolves and new technologies emerge, the term â€œomnichannelâ€ will be used increasingly within the retail environment.
While a number of advertisers have already successfully rolled out multichannel strategies, the need to place customers at the heart of a digital initiative has gained even greater importance. So, retailers are beginning to understand that regardless of how customers interact with them in the future, shoppers need to be provided what they want and when they want it â€” whether online, via mobile or in a brick and mortar store. They are taking a more integrated approach which will work in harmony to generate the sale and provide a more engaging overall experience for their customers.
Omni-Channel Retailing, an integrated marketing approach, is the evolution of multi-channel retailing, but is concentrated more on a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels, i.e. mobile internet devices, computers, brick-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalog and so on. Retailers are meeting the new customer demands by deploying specialized supply chain strategy software.
There has long been interest among retailers in adopting a unified and customer-centric approach to their marketing and sales. There have also been strategic approach by retailers using various forms of incentives, all geared towards delivering a positive brand experience by providing potential customers with more convenient purchasing options.
With todayâ€™s consumers having access to multiple devices (e.g. desktop and mobile) and engaging with retailers on a number of channels (e.g. social and search), sellers have realized that they must adopt a single customer view, as it allows them to understand how a consumerâ€™s online behavior translates to how he or she interacts with a brand offline.
A price-conscious online consumer, for example, is likely to be tempted in-store when offered a discount through another marketing channel. Case in point, mobile commerce and performance marketing are key drivers in enhancing the concept of omnichannel retailing, as they prove to be effective in breaking down the barriers by allowing consumers to purchase in their preferred way.
Some retailers, for example, creatively create a discount code and make it available across multiple channels â€” print, online and via mobile coupons. Analysts believe that, â€œAdvertisers should embrace the benefits of consumers being connected while at brick-and-mortar locations rather than fearing the impact of showrooming.â€
This, they argue, is because, while online and in-store, a potential customer would be able to read product reviews, check prices and, if the product is not in-stock, order it immediately through his or her smartphone to either have it delivered or scheduled for in-store pickup, whichever is more convenient for the individual. Retailers have been relatively quick to launch multichannel strategies, but adopting a single customer view and embracing an omnichannel approach is key to future success, as future technological developments will only enhance this further.