Multichannel and omnichannel have become popular buzz words over recent years, but the lines between the two are blurred. In this article we will look at how the industry has changed over recent years and how these buzz words are being applied today.
Before the turn of the millennium, traditional brick and mortar stores ruled the retail landscape with the 4 P’s approach: product, place, price and promotion – it was largely a product-centric approach. Today, however, we live in a connected world with most consumers owning a laptop, tablet and a smart phone device. New technologies and consumer buying behaviours have had a huge impact on how consumers and brands interact with one another and as marketer’s we have shifted towards a 4 C’s model (choice, cost, communication and convenience) with a clear customer-centric focus.
Multichannel is “the use of a wide variety of marketing methods as well as a variety of ways for consumers to purchase the particular product or service that is being offered. Typically each of the channels that are chosen by the marketer will help to reinforce the other channels in the mix.” (Source: Business Dictionary)
Omnichannel is “the evolution of multichannel retailing, but is concentrated more on a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels. Retailers using an omni-channel approach will track customers across all channels, not just one or two.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Multichannel and omnichannel retailing were terms born out of the digital revolution and technological evolution. In their simplest form, they’re both all about delivering and replying to the right message to the right person via the right channel at the right time. As a result, when done correctly, a seamless shopping experience is provided and brands secure their customer loyalty whilst maximising their revenue streams.
The retail landscape has gone through unprecedented change over the last decade, especially during the last 3 years. The challenge that brands are now facing is how to create and integrate a seamless journey whilst staying ahead of the competition. In order to understand the way a customer connects to your brand, it is important to consider their journey – from beginning to end. Today’s multi-screen, multi-device customers are digitally savvy and naturally check and compare information and prices before committing to the final purchase. There is often more than one touch point within the journey and rarely will it begin and end with one single visit to a store or one call in to a contact centre. This is where, and why, the multichannel and omnichannel marketing approach becomes essential to retailers – putting the customer first in order to offer choice, convenience and flexibility, whilst ensuring that the customers’ information is consolidated into a single view, giving a 360 view of their journey. Using this information, a business can gain valuable insight in to where it should be developing, investing and focussing efforts. For that reason, I would be open to saying that it doesn’t matter whether you call it ‘omnichannel’ or ‘multichannel’ and focus more on the data, the intelligence and making the customer user journey a seamless one across every arena that you use to connect with and sell to them.
How are you different from your competitors? When you mainly tick the same boxes as all of your competitors out there, it can be hard to be the ones standing out!
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