Arti­cles and research reports about omnichan­nel mar­ket­ing abound. They appear every­where from MIT’s Sloan Man­age­ment Review to OnlineRe­tailer.

The omnichan­nel con­cept strives to cre­ate a seam­less shop­ping expe­ri­ence across all chan­nels, or cus­tomer touch points. Brand expe­ri­ence, mer­chan­dise, and pro­mo­tions are not chan­nel spe­cific, but rather they should be con­sis­tent across all retail chan­nels. To be where con­sumers are, retail­ers are main­tain­ing a grow­ing num­ber of dis­tinct touch points: phys­i­cal shops, cat­a­logs, direct mail, email, mobile apps, tablets, online ecom­merce pres­ences, tele­vi­sion and radio ads, social net­works, loy­alty pro­grams, pro­mo­tional offers, and more. In retail, each touch point has tra­di­tion­ally been con­sid­ered a dif­fer­ent chan­nel, often with sep­a­rate, silo’ed tech­nol­ogy sys­tems, cus­tomer data ware­houses, and ROI.

The real­ity, how­ever, is that the term omnichan­nel mar­ket­ing is becom­ing irrelevant—creating this seam­less shop­ping expe­ri­ence with shared inven­to­ries, sales goals, and ser­vices has become stan­dard oper­at­ing pro­ce­dure. The con­cept of retail mar­ket­ing in a coor­di­nated way across many chan­nels is vital.

In a world where cus­tomers inter­act with retail­ers from any num­ber of devices and locales, and for a vari­ety of rea­sons, the lines between chan­nels have been elim­i­nated. This trend is prompt­ing retail­ers to rethink their over­all strategies.

This model has become prob­lem­atic for retail­ers for sev­eral rea­sons, includ­ing con­ver­sion attri­bu­tion. Was the sale or other con­ver­sion due ulti­mately to the first click, last click, a long jour­ney across mul­ti­ple touch points, or sim­ply an impromptu walk-in cus­tomer at a brick-and-mortar store? For years, these types of issues and ques­tions have plagued retail­ers that con­tinue to think of chan­nels as sep­a­rate entities.

Retail­ers are look­ing dif­fer­ently at tra­di­tional key per­for­mance indicators—such as rev­enue per visit, con­ver­sion, and aver­age order value through one channel—and instead are see­ing the need to pin­point the rela­tion­ships between touch points, life­time value (LTV), and cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion (CSAT) scores. Suc­cess­ful retail­ers are now retir­ing the con­cept of omnichan­nel and are look­ing at dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing as a more holis­tic shop­ping ecosystem.

As shop­ping behav­iors evolve, the new mar­keter in today’s dig­i­tal retail world must rein­vent strate­gies and processes to stay ahead of con­sumers. Today’s lead­ing mar­keters are look­ing at dis­parate inter­ac­tion chan­nels as one and har­ness­ing the power of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing to drive excel­lence and cater to the shop­per of today and the future.

What does it take to become a retail leader in the world of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing? Sev­eral steps are required:

  • For­get chan­nels: con­sumers do not think, live, or shop in channels.
  • Think of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing not as a side­line, but as “busi­ness as usual.”
  • Refuse to per­pet­u­ate silos of cus­tomer infor­ma­tion, and insist on inte­grat­ing sep­a­rate con­ver­sion and report­ing metrics.
  • Invite IT and busi­ness stake­hold­ers to have a seat at the table.
  • Gain insight into con­sumers’ behav­iors, pref­er­ences, research and pur­chase paths, and over­all experiences—across all touch points.
  • Con­sider rela­tion­ships between these touch points and develop an attri­bu­tion model that con­sid­ers the con­tri­bu­tions of each channel.
  • Adopt tech­nolo­gies that can pro­vide a com­plete view into shop­per behav­iors, pat­terns, paths to con­ver­sion, and ongo­ing loy­alty and brand advocacy

In the end, no two shop­pers are alike. Retail­ers that stop per­pet­u­at­ing the omnichan­nel con­cept and start con­nect­ing the dots between every cus­tomer inter­ac­tion in a holis­tic way will win in the dig­i­tal world. The key is to under­stand cus­tomers’ behav­iors and pref­er­ences across devices and touch points and act locally by deliv­er­ing per­son­al­ized, rel­e­vant con­tent, offers, pro­grams, and ser­vices to them, pre­cisely when and where they need them.

To learn more about the fate of omnichan­nel mar­ket­ing and gain addi­tional retail insights, watch Michael Klein’s dis­cus­sion from Adobe Sum­mit: The Future of Retail: Insights from a Retail Innovator