“Conversion funnel”, “customer experience” and “leads” have long dominated marketing vocabulary. Time has come to refresh it. We propose you a brand-new term which is omnichannel.
In early 2000’s, the term “multi-channel approach” was used by the marketers to describe communication between a business and a customer across multiple channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. The channels also included telephone, fax, and e-mail, as well as other traditional ways to connect with the customer. However, multichannel approach is not that in today as it implies a fragmented picture of the client’s experience. That is why marketers replace it with a more sophisticated method of grabbing customer’s attention. Omnichannel approach (‘omnis’ (lat.) – “every/all”) is an all-encompassing strategy to ensure holistic customer experience. Such an approach implies that the customers can shop using multiple devices (laptop, phone, tablet) or across multiple channels (online or in a physical store, social network, etc), benefit from loyalty offers in a physical store or enjoy their online account bonuses. The interconnections between a customer and a brand, e.g. number of visits, positive/negative feedbacks, items of choice, create a system of touchpoints. The data from the system allows the brand to correct its business mistakes and create a detailed customer history, making brand-customer ties closer with each new touchpoint. The launch of the omnichannel system is impossible without high-level analytics coupled with tech solutions, such as VR or AR, which may significantly improve customer’s experience.
It is not simply a buzzword, even though many perceive it as such. It’s a new chapter in the history of conversions, where the customer comes to the forefront with the brands/service providers, etc. acting in the background. Instead of targeting your customer across multiple channels, you create a customer-centric system responsive to the customer’s demand. Nevertheless, many businesses still ignore the perks this new strategy may bring, regardless of the statistics.
- 49% of consumers buy from their favorite omnichannel brands at least once per week (Marketing Land)
- 89% of customers are retained by companies with omnichannel engagement strategies (Invesp)
- 23X higher rates of customer satisfaction are experienced by companies with omnichannel strategies (Aberdeen Group)
The advent of the new approach may bring numerous benefits to any industry. There’s only one precondition for its implementation which is sophisticated technical backup. Let’s start from a theoretical question - how a regular retail business may prosper from the omnichannel upgrade? View this hypothetical situation we prepared for you to get a better comprehension of the omnichannel system.
The Good Brand Company (GBC) has been in the apparel business for decades by now. Until recently, it was fully satisfied with its revenues. What happened that made it worry? A new-comer hits the market with lower prices, a huge selection of apparel items and even more smiling staff. The competitor instantly grabs vast public interest. However, the GBC planned no early retirement and had numerous ambitious goals in sight.
Though it has never been a tech high flyer, this time the GBC is introducing top-notch tech solutions and leveraging the power of analytics to initiate a number of omnichannel improvements. See what was before and what comes after.
A customer gets frustrated as his/her item of choice is out of stock (either in size or color) at the physical/online store
As this is an omnichannel system, both online and physical stores are interconnected, so the customer perceives it as a single network. In case it is easier for a customer to shop online, let it be. Should the inventory shortage occur, online store replenishes its stock directly from the warehouses of a physical store. No bookkeeping issues ever arise when dealing with returns, even if an item was purchased online and returned to the physical store. Likewise, the item may be returned or replaced in another city/country, providing the brand has its stores in it.
The customer gets frustrated as the item doesn’t match, after wasting time browsing the Internet or visiting the physical store
The GBC harnesses AR to eliminate the guess factor of online shopping. A customer simply downloads his/her photo, merges it with the item selected from the catalogue and sees the result without any hassles. A visit to the physical store follows to dispel sizing and fit concerns, if any. In addition, the GBC introduces “a perfect match” option which allows the customer to “build” the image collecting various items from the site. The option drives customer’s engagement and brings higher revenue to the store.
Lower prices of the online store vs. touch and try of the physical store. What side will the customer choose?
The GBC places the QR code in the center of a new loyalty program for its most devoted customers. The customer visits the store, selects the item and leaves it in the fitting room. The same item is bought online in the same fitting room after the customer scans the QR code and selects the item online. Such option offers the customer touch and feel of the physical store, with all of the bonuses and loyalty offers he/she may enjoy using their online account.
The omnichannel is far from being only a retail perk. Indeed, it has already found its way to the hearts of numerous industries. Its theoretical application became as real as you reading this article.
IBM and Wimbledon has been working together since 1990. In 2015, the oldest tennis tournament brought Watson, IBM’s AI platform, to its courts to ensure seamless experience both to a live audience and those who cannot attend the championship. Since then, the tech giant completely revolutionized broadcasting and written coverage. With Watson analyzing players’ emotions, crowd noise and match data behind the scenes, the 2018 highlight videos have become as timely and accurate as ever. The same year Wimbledon Messenger was launched (utilizing the Watson Assistant chatbot) ensuring a wider coverage and more tailored information on scores, news and players for the fans. Dynamically refreshing content on Wimbledon.com was one more AI-enabled gift from the IBM team. The combination of the above channels created a seamless network of events and emotions.
Do you think being omnichannel costs a lot and is available only to the giants of industry? Yes and no. It does require investments as 64% of marketers cite lack of resources and investment as their top barrier to omnichannel marketing (The CMO Club). This should be a main blocker for start-ups, but not for this one. Envoy, a Californian start-up, raised additional $43m funding to ensure omnichannel experience at…office. Its target wasn’t being omnichannel; rather, it is their customers who become omnichannel with their help. As offices are always expecting some guests, Envoy launched a smart guest-welcoming system. It started with a digital check-in system and it is now conquering the smart package delivery market. But what is the real target of its CEO, Larry Gadea, is to manage your conference rooms, key-card-type door access and even the right temperature for the office air-conditioning. For the time being, Envoy is developing the system that will allow office guests to preload their photo, hook up their social accounts or make highly personalized requests for audio or visual equipment or even sparkling water. It’s a world of consumers we live in with customized services for everyone (even for office employees).
Whoever invented retail, he had a nose for success. With its proactive and tech savvy nature, it made it a tough job for other industries to compete against it. Especially, if a store promises “the wonderful everyday” for everyone.
IKEA made it to the top of the 2017 UK omnichannel retail chart for a reason. Starting 2013, Swedish giant launched its catalogue app and showed the world its famous interactive feature. Their current app, a more sophisticated Place, allows users to virtually place and view IKEA’s items in their homes. The decision-making process has never been easier thanks to true-to-scale 3D furniture copies visualized through the lens of your iPhone camera. In the future, the app may transform into contact lenses that will ensure even a more real experience and even more loyal customers for IKEA.
Amazon uncovers its amazing Just Walk Out Technology, Disney introduces Magic Band Program. Bank of America has barely few options left for which visiting an office is necessary; most of the bank’s services are now available online. Oasis, Sturbacks, Virgin Atlantic – anything can be omnichannel. What lies in the core of omnichannel approach is better demand-sensing and replication of positive experience. Any business can do it.
To propel your business to a new level requires patience, technology, and vast amounts of data and analytics. It doesn’t mean you must disrupt your current marketing strategy and rush to start a new ground-breaking endeavor. Start small and sensible to expand in the future. Reshape your business feature by feature to fuse site, app and stores into one network. Build up functionality as you go. The examples from above are inspiring but not so easy to follow, yet your task for a start is to find an iconic model to fit your scale and try to follow its path.
In case you may need some help, Qulix is willing and ready to share its omnichannel expertise with you.
You can get more from our team. Contact us at any moment convenient to you.