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