Serve customers better – The Omnichannel approach

As customers change their behaviors, companies will need to react. Instead of thinking of a desktop experience, a mobile experience, a tablet experience and a Apple Watch experience, we’ll need to pursue one, holistic approach – an omnichannel experience.

What is Omnichannel?

Omnichannel is defined as a multichannel sales approach that provides a customer with an integrated shopping experience. The customer can be shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, or by telephone, or in a store and the experience would be seamless.

Omnichannel means at its foundation, integration. Therefore, an omnichannel strategy could also be called an integration plan. Forbes once described the omnichannel experience as the point where “marketing meets ubiquity” an apt description.

So, what are we integrating? We are integrating desired Customer Experience, which should be the delivery of our brand promise, throughout the different channels whether that means shopping, ordering or technical support. Each channel and its related moment might have a fundamental difference based on how it occurs, but it should feel like part of the same experience.

Omnichannel vs Multichannel – what’s the difference?

Essentially the differences between omnichannel and multichannel comes down to the depth of the integration.

All omnichannel experiences will use multiple channels, but not all multichannel experiences are omnichannel. You can have amazing mobile marketing, engaging social media campaigns, and a well-designed website. But if they don’t work together, it’s not omnichannel.

Today a lot of companies invest in multichannel experience. They have a website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter. They use each of these platforms to connect and communicate with customers. However, in most cases, the customer still lacks a seamless experience and consistent messaging across each of these channels. So there is still a lot to do in this area.

Omnichannel strategy – now and the future

In the US only, 213 million adults access the Internet with an average of 4 different devices. They’re more connected, and they have more control over the buying process than ever before.

A research made by Rakuten Marketing together with the CMO Club showed that 45% companies had already begun implementing an omnichannel strategy, but only 11% of those considered their efforts “sophisticated.” 29% are in the planning stage and intended to implement omnichannel strategy within 6 to 12 months.

What can be surprising is that 26% of respondents said they have no plans to implement an omnichannel strategy. According to respondents, standing in the way of creating one are the following:

-Lack of resources and investments required to succeed

-Lack of analytical and technical resources to make sense of data

-Difficulty integrating data

-Lack of communication between marketing agencies and/or vendors

-Lack of C-suite buy-in to the value of omnichannel

-Siloed organizational structure

A year later an IBM and the CMO Council surveyed 198 marketers to find out that challenges remain. However this time, only 11% of respondents still manage their campaigns in a siloed and unconnected manner. The rest of companies have already begun, or are planning to begin, implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy by connecting channels and experiences. The reaserch also shows that 94% of marketers believe that providing an omnichannel experience is crucial to companies success, therefore in next few years we can expect more companies investing in omnichannel approach.