The Point: Omnichannel — also spelled omni-channel — is a multichannel approach to sales that seeks to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience, whether they’re shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone, or in a brick-and-mortar store. We started thinking here at Tip of the Spear Ventures and The Javelin Institute, what exactly are the channels associated with omnichannel retailing and what are solutions might be available? So, in this post we explore the leadership challenge of omni-channel retailing along with 3 Tips… Enjoy!
Every Customer, Anywhere, Any Time!
What is Omnichannel Retailing? Omnichannel retailing is the multichannel approach to sales providing a seamless shopping experience. This customer experience is spread across online, telephone, and/or traditional brick-and-mortar stores. In other words, wherever the customer shows up and wants to do business, as a retailer the opportunity is to meet them there and pick-up the sales process so as to move forward successfully to the sale.
As one of the Chief Revenue Officers I work with says, the opportunity for Omnichannel Retailing is to meet “every customer, anywhere, any time!”
Omnichannel vs Multichannel
I’m typically asked to help identify the difference between omnichannel and multichannel retailing. Omni, derived from the Latin word omnis, means all or every. Multi means many. With this in mind, the differences between the two are not in quantity alone. Omnichannel is a category within multichannel as it is built on a multiple of methods promoting and distributing products/services, as well as interacting with customers across several channels therein as well (Online, telecommunications, and traditional brick-and-mortar).
However, a key differentiator is that multichannel tends to silo communication, both organizationally and consumer-wise. Whereas omni-channel’s inherent approach is to share data across there channels for the betterment of experience, operational efficiencies, and potential sales.
So where are your current customers at regarding the omni-channel experience? In other words, where are they currently spending their time so that marketing dollars can be utilized so as to effectively market products/services to them? Perhaps more important, where are your future customers (those that have not yet engaged with the brand) spending their time/dollars? A marketing and sales challenge for companies is figuring out which channels their customers use. While marketing to them is one aspect that can’t be overlooked, actually transacting with them is a much larger issue considering infrastructure (Technology, process and technology) that needs to exist. Another is the organization’s ability to deliver a consistent experience across all those channels effectively.
The Leadership Challenge of Omnichannel Retailing: 3 Tips!
In the previous section (Omnichannel Facets) I mentioned three infrastructure considerations, and therein lies the opportunities or tips for effective omnichannel retailing. At a 30,000 foot elevation, these considerations are:
Tip #3 – Technology
The old-adage that technology makes complex tasks simple has never been more true. However, the converse is also still true (i.e., Technology makes simple tasks complex!) With this in mind, technology solution selection has never been more important to get right. Best practice is to thoroughly vet no less than three technology solutions that can assist you in your omnichannel vision.
Tip #2 – Process
I often see tremendous spend in both time and money taking place when it comes to technology (See Tip #3 above). However, a lack of synchronization between technology and process leads to execution failure. Best practice consists of mapping current processes, future best-case process, and what technology introductions might introduce for real-world implementation process therein.
Tip #1 – People
With all the talk of robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning you’d think that people would be obsolete in an omnichannel retailing strategy. Well, guess again… I would argue that people are more important today than they’ve ever been! Best practice consist of recruiting/training for future omnichannel retailing goal attainment in a specialized capacity (In other words, the generalists that know all of the channels and excels at delivering from within each will end up not being able to provide effective levels of service within specific channels, and thereby diminishing the customer experience.
In this post we’ve explored the leadership challenge of omnichannel retailing and provided three tips. Omnichannel requires leadership to cultivate a strategic vision that effectively covers the business-bases at hand in a “no stone left unturned” methodology so as to create a seamless omnichannel experience for consumers and employees alike.
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