According to Econsultancy “83% of Retail Brands are to adopt Omni-channel strategy Within 18 months”. Omni-channel refers to the consolidation of a multi-channel marketing approach to form a more synchronised, seamless customer experience from first contact to sale. By breaking down traditional channel silos, brand image is strengthened and maximum leverage can be gained off what appears to them as a single continuous platform. The benefits of such an approach are undeniable.
UK cycling market leaders Evans Cycles are a prime example of how breaking down the barriers between ecommerce and in-store purchasing can be used to drive sales and improve customer relations. Installing WiFi and iPads has proved a huge success for the retailer, streamlining sales and providing instant information for customers. Data capture throughout the entire process, when subjected to highly specified analytics, also serves as a powerful tool which can be deployed to personalise product suggestions and provide valuable insight into consumer behaviour.
John Lewis have also expressed their enthusiasm to such an approach, stating "We call ourselves omnichannel – and our aspirations are to be market leading". With 57% of their click & collect orders picked up from Waitrose branches and 50% of the traffic to johnlewis.com coming from phones and tablets, their stratergy is clearly proving effective and clearly setting the benchmark for others to follow.
With so many labels being thrown around for subtly different marketing approaches, one has to question the validity of such terms. Will Lockie, head of Multi-channel at the aforementioned Evans Cycles recently expressed his view, stating;
“If people want to use ‘Omni-channel’ as some higher state of being over ‘Multi-channel’ I get that, but to a customer all they care about is a good joined up experience from a brand.”
Perhaps a more practical option is to focus on the direction of the approach and final goal rather than coining a new phrase when a slightly new angle is considered.
Unification of channels is the key, a factor which has lead to the rise of the term “Unified Commerce”. As retailers are coming up to speed with current developments however this offers no more of a message than that of Omni-channel marketing.
The general theme we are seeing across the retail sector is that interacting with consumers on as many channels as possible is key. Synchronisation provides the consistency which will instill confidence in the brand and ultimately drive sales.
Innovation, especially in data rich sectors such as mobile will give retailers the necessary tools to do so. Whatever term you choose to use, the rewards of such an approach are clear to see.