Marketing Brief: What is the Omni-Channel?

What is the Omni-Channel

Marketing Brief: What is the Omni-Channel?

Marketing Brief is an occasional series that looks at a specific aspect of marketing and gives you a bite-sized briefing that tells you all you need to know to be up-to-date on an important topic.

Marketers have a bewildering array of channels with which they can reach today’s consumer, and - more importantly - our customers are choosing to engage with us in a variety of different ways, too.

Traditionally marketing managers have adopted a different approach depending upon the channel and so the retail strategy may differ from the web strategy - there may be little commonality or coordination between them, giving the customer a different experience, depending upon which channel they took on the buying journey. This was the era of the multi-channel strategy.

While it is easy to dismiss the concept of the ‘omni-channel’ as just another one of those, all too frequent, marketing buzzwords, in reality it represents an important shift in thinking in terms of how consumers choose to engage with brands and how firms need to adapt their value proposition, and their strategy, to the multitude of paths the buyer can take to reach you.

I may start my journey by browsing the display in a retail store, but I might complete my purchase online from the web shop via my smartphone while seated in the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts. Marketo, a provider of marketing automation software, has referred to the omni-channel as providing a ‘seamless experience’, irrespective of which platform, channel, or device the consumer chooses to engage with the brand.

One of the most high profile examples is Starbucks, which has sought to provide the type of seamless experience that Marketo espouses - and the company is frequently cited as one of the top exponents of the art of omni-channel.

Starbucks gives its customers the option of reloading their Starbucks card, either online via the website, in-store, or through their phone. And regardless of which channel is used, the balance is updated live across all platforms, regardless of which one the customer used to update their profile. In the quick service restaurant sphere, Chipotle Mexican Grill also allows customers to place an order wherever they are, whether that is via the app, on the website, or in the nearest restaurant. Providing them with a seamless and integrated experience that is the same, whatever chanel they choose to utilize, which is the hallmark of an effective omni-channel marketing strategy.

Before the omni-channel there was the multi-channel approach and while some marketers are still only beginning to get switched on to the latter, the omni-channel represents a way of marketing that is a shift in how consumers wish to interact with brands and how organizations need to create an experience that is common across a range of platforms and channels.

Are you switched on to the omni-channel?

Picture Credit: Shopping by Official Blackberry Images: (Creative Commons)

Will Trevor is NYCRAMA's VP of Social Media. He has a background in sales and marketing, where his experience spans both agency and client-side positions. Will also worked in a range of industries, from the public sector, to manufacturing and recruitment. Most recently, he has applied his practical experience to the field of education and training, where he teaches in higher education, both in the UK and the USA. Find out more about Will on LinkedIn.

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