What is omni-channel marketing?

Written on 17 October, 2016 by Karen Lam
Categories: Marketing

Not a month goes by without a new marketing method or a term being derived from the result of technology.

This month's term is 'omni-channel marketing'. What does it mean, and how can your business leverage it?

What is omni-channel marketing?


Omni-channel marketing is the process of providing the customer with a seamless experience regardless of how they are interacting with your business.

For example, most banks today provide their customers with an omni-channel experience. You can visit a local branch (offline) and make payments or withdrawals, you can log in via your computer and pay bills (web browser), or you can use an ATM (offline) or their mobile app (mobile).

You have a number of ways to achieve your goal by using an array of channels.

Twenty years ago, if you wanted to transfer money, your only option was to go to the bank and fill out a confusing form.

Omni-channel is online and offline


You may have heard people say "Retail is dead, everything is online".

But is that true?

92% of all retail purchases still happen offline. Reasons for shopping offline include:

  • Saving on shipping costs
  • Easier to return
  • Instant gratification
  • See or feel the item in person

Wait, so online shopping is dead? No, not exactly.

Your customers don't want either/or, they want both. Some are so busy with their day-to-day life that ordering online is the most convenient option, while others prefer the traditional way of shopping.

Omni-channel marketing isn't about focusing on one or the other, it's about migrating everything together to make the customer's life easier.

For example, Target allows you to do your shopping online and collect in-store. By visiting their website, you can see what items they have in stock, which promotions are running, and view the items in-store before checking out.

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They even give you the option to buy online and return in-store.

Target's marketing and customer support are both omni-channel, giving the customer several ways to shop based on their needs.

Why omni-channel is the future


According to Forrester, we are now in the Age of the Customer. Customers hold the power, and if you can't satisfy their shopping needs, they will go elsewhere.

By 2020, the customer experience will take over the price and product as the key brand differentiator.

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(Source)

You've probably noticed it yourself in recent years with the bigger retail brands giving you the option to shop online and return items in-store, and creating mobile apps and allowing you to talk to live support as you're shopping.

This is because they understand the importance of omni-channel marketing.

Summary


Omni-channel marketing can be applied to various levels of your business, be it the research phase when customers are Googling keywords or business reviews, during the actual shop when they are viewing items and making payments, or at the final stages when they need after-sales support.

The number of avenues you provide to the customer at each level will be what separates you from your competitors in the coming years.