What is Omni-Channel? How is it Impacting Retail this Holiday Season?

omnichannel retail

Six years ago, the biggest challenge of online marketing was the ability to integrate, align, and then control messaging throughout each channel. As new channels emerged and increased in popularity, marketers added more batches and more blasts to their production schedule. The result (which is still common), was an overwhelming pile of advertisements and sales messages shoved down every prospect’s throat. The backlash continues – with upset consumers unsubscribing and hiding from the companies they were once more than happy to do business with.

Unfortunately, the origin of the term omni means all… and that’s how marketers often treat the channels. I wish we would have penned a better term, like coordinated or progressive channel marketing. Automation across channels often handles some of this coordination, but we often don’t optimize those communications either.

What is Omni-Channel?

Omnichannel, which is also spelled omni-channel, is referring to each of the experiences associated with a given customer. Within marketing, omni-channel is referring to a unified marketing experience across mediums (aka channels). Instead of a customer getting bombarded across mediums, the experience is both personalized and balanced where hand-offs are expected. So a television commercial may drive people to a URL on a site where the customer can engage on the topic, or perhaps sign up for mobile alerts or emails that further the engagement. The experience should be both seamless and progressive, rather than repetitive and annoying.

Omnichannel retail or shopping experiences refer to the actual interaction between the store and digital devices, the customer information shared between online behavior and interaction and the local retailer, and – of course – pricing, delivery, and stock accuracy between the store and digital interfaces. When everything is working seamlessly, it leads to a greater shopping experience. That leads to larger sales and further sales in the future per customer. In fact, omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.

As shoppers are becoming more channel-agnostic, and more omnichannel in their customer journey, the retailers that are breaking through and meeting their demands are realizing the greatest returns this holiday shopping season. It’s no longer about brick and mortar vs. e-commerce. Today’s successful retailers know they need to make the customer journey a seamless experience across all channels and all devices so consumers don’t feel they have to choose. Stuart Lazarus, VP of Sales for North America, Signal

This infographic is chock full of first and third-party stats on what omnichannel shoppers expect and how digital channels have an influence on in-store purchases. It includes stats from brands such as Amazon, Michael Kors, and Warby Parker to demonstrate how they stack up against competition, and explores key challenges retailers face today. Some highlights:

  • 64% of online shoppers cite shipping speed as important purchasing decisions
  • 90% of in-store shoppers have visited the website and will then make a second or third purchase online
  • Only 36% of customers would visit a store if no inventory information was available online

Omni-Channel Retail and Commerce