As technology advances, it becomes more and more integrated into our daily lives. Most people have several Internet-connected devices around them at any given time, from desktop PCs to laptops, and tablets to smartphones. Technology is becoming more important to our everyday lives, and the lines between what needs to be done online against what needs to be done physically are getting blurred. And as customer behavior changes, marketers have to adapt accordingly, and omnichannel models have proven to be a highly efficient approach in responding to customer behavior
What is omnichannel?
Omnichannel can be best defined as a multi-channel sales funnel that provides an integrated shopping experience for the customer. Whether they are shopping online – using a PC, a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone, or an Apple watch – or in a physical store, the shopping experience becomes seamless. The difference between omnichannel and multichannel is an important one, which really comes down to the depth of integration. Today, most businesses invest in a multi-channel experience. But multi-channel is not always omnichannel, especially if all the different systems are not working together.
Omnichannel, on the other hand, handles the customer experience by accounting for whatever device the customer could be using and delivering a fully integrated shopping experience. When using omnichannel, companies align their marketing strategy across all channels simultaneously. And each company needs to design their omnichannel experience differently, to suit the needs of their brand and their customers. This is still a relatively new concept, so there is still time to start from small beginnings and expand as the business needs.
Omnichannel success stories that are examples to follow
With Disney, omnichannel is done well, right down to the smallest detail. From their well-designed website, which works even on mobile devices, you can plan, book, prepare and pay for your trip to any of the Disney resorts worldwide. And the detail means you can even plan where to eat on what days. For the attractions, you can even get an average waiting time for each, so you can better plan your days in advance.
At Virgin the focus in on their omnichannel customer service experience. As an example, one customer was given a very personalized experience when the representative reached across the company’s multiple marketing channels to help with the missed engineer call out issue. With this kind of amazing personal touch, it is easy to see how omnichannel can work well when everyone is working together.
Bank of America
Being one of the biggest brands in the American banking industry, Bank of America takes the development of their omnichannel experience seriously. While they are still a long way from the complete experience – such as getting a loan or other, more complex banking needs – all of the normal daily banking requirements can be done easily online, from both desktop and mobile devices seamlessly.
This UK-based fashion retailer has fused their e-commerce site, mobile app, and physical stores into a very simple shopping experience. In the stores t hey have staff with iPads who can give you up-to-the-minute information on products and stocking, and which can also act as a mobile payment gateway. And if the item you want is out of stock, they can easily and quickly arrange for it to be delivered to your home by placing an instant online order.
When creating an omnichannel experience you need to ensure that all your channels work together seamlessly. The last thing you need is for a customer to order online, only to be told it is out of stock, while there is available stock in the physical store. With REI, the store has multiple touch points, and the online stock is integrated perfectly with their physical stores, to provide an item from anywhere it is still in stock.
While it may not appear that a coffee house has much need for omnichannel support, you could not be more wrong. Starbucks reward app shows why it is one of the best omnichannel experiences in the market. The rewards card can not only be loaded in the stores, but also online on the web, via the app, and even from your phone. And the changes are updated real time. So if you need to add balance while you are already in the queue, it is easily done in seconds, and you do not lose your place.
Many people have ordered food online only to find that the order was not received by the restaurant that handles the local delivery or collection. Chipotle’s online experience removes that from the equation with an omnichannel experience that allows you to order from anywhere, and an account system that remembers your favorite or most frequent orders and aids in the ordering process. And their easy-to-navigate app and website make the customer experience simpler, and better.
Omnichannel will make the future brighter
Many omnichannel experiences have a long way to go to be as good as possible. And the grand scale of integration can seem a little daunting. But, with a little patience and perseverance, the effort will pay off. The world of omnichannel accessibility to all is not far off, and technology is driving the market there as fast as it can be developed. That perfect engagement with the customer, from anywhere in the world, is on its way.
Article published in E-commerce :