Shopping is a pleasure, but it is also a sad obligation. For those tired of rummaging in the store shelves, but also those who are going wild while shopping – omnichannel in trade will be good news; this means combining multiple shopping paths into one and freely switching between them.
The main assumption of omnichannel involves interweaving the sales channels. The name is not accidental – in Latin omni means “everything”. And customers want this “everything”. And they are greedy in this desire. They want the goods that they choose to always be available, in every size or color variant. They want to know the stock levels, they want to be able to buy the goods in an online store, pick them up in a parcel machine, and return at the traditional store. They expect all employees they are in contact with to have exactly the same information about their needs, regardless of the communication channel and when they had communicated to the company. “The customer is always right”, as the trader’s favorite saying goes. And in this case, this sentence is most appropriate. If the customer requires so, you (wanting your store to keep up with a dynamically changing market) must meet their expectations. The omnichannel is therefore a bridge between the online and offline – which is particularly important for the Millenials, who consider both worlds to be equally important.
As you have probably noticed in the title – omnipresence is a relatively new phenomenon, especially on the Polish market. And its core is to focus on communication with the customer through multiple channels – each of which features high quality. So you have an online store, a traditional store, a virtual assistant, a virtual AI customer service, you have employees (people) coordinating sales, you have social media channels, a corporate blog, reception points, mobile apps etc. And the client often uses each of these channels – selecting products on their smartphone, comparing their prices on a computer, checking the quality at the store, making a purchase via a tablet, picking it up at the store, and sending complaints by mail. And yet not so long ago, if someone wanted to buy a TV, they simply went to the store, exchanged a few words with the seller and bought the TV. Today one does not depend on what they find at the store. An ocean of possibilities is ahead – they can browse, compare, and reflect as long as they want before making the final decision.
New term, new opportunities
The development of new technologies forces new insights into commerce and customer presence in a complex network of connections. Now the customer has to be at the very heart (thus the term “clientocentrism” was coined) of all marketing activities. They play first fiddle, and traders have to reconcile with this situation, even if it entails higher costs and serious changes in their corporate culture.
Mobile applications at the design and responsiveness levels must fully match the version of the store visited via a computer. Is it enough to add the omnichannel idea to this? Not quite – omnichannel is not just about switching between channels, it’s not just the evolution of crosschannel or multichannel thinking.
Its pith and marrow rather involves thinking about the purchasing process as having a certain continuity of experience. And also getting rid of thinking about “my” customers and “their” customers, but rather about customers in general, as a whole.
If a brand wants to stay on the market, it must be open to new developments. Recall what it was in the case of the growing popularity of social media and their role in customer relations. Do you remember those companies that refused to engage in a dialogue, and therefore – evolve? Many of them are no longer with us.
While the revolution in social media has meant bilateral exchanges with the customers through dialogue and interaction, omnichannel is a social business development. The winners will be those brands that best interpret the data and understand all the customers. This is one of the reasons for the creation of CRMs, such as edrone – dedicated solely to e-commerce, or other customer relations management systems.
Like a spider web
A comparison to the spider web is not accidental, and quite well distinguishes the omnichannel and multichannel. It comes down to a brand’s approach to digital channels. Companies that focus on maximizing the effectiveness of each channel – stationary, telephone, network, mobile – have a multichannel strategy. They organize their business, just like tracks in a swimming pool – focusing on every “track” – with its own reporting, goals and revenue. It is an error to believe that simply providing a few channels for customer communication will do the trick. The omnichannel approach is centered around a network of connections. The development of new technologies, including mobile ones, enables the customer to use several channels at a time – for example, checking product reviews on a smartphone while viewing the product in an online store.
In essence, omnichannel marketing recognizes that customers engage with companies or brands in many different ways and on multiple platforms, and its role is to provide them with the opportunity to personalize their communication with the brand. It assumes that each of the available channels creates an ecosystem, within which the customer can move freely.