Omnichannel: One story for many channels

Omnichannel… one of the most ominous words in the quest for great digital experiences. Isn’t it multi-channel or cross-channel?

Tired of the debate, some have argued for channel-less customer experiences. In the end, it shouldn’t matter what channel. The customer doesn’t care how you reach them. They just want to connect, be engaged, buy what they want or have their problem solved.

But let’s better understand the buzzword that’s driving digital transformation across many organizations.

“Omnichannel experience is a multichannel approach to marketing… that creates an integrated and cohesive customer experience, no matter how or where a customer reaches out.” - Hubspot

Omnichannel is about intersecting between the physical and the digital. To be omnichannel, you need to be multichannel. But being multichannel does not necessarily make you omnichannel. You might have a website, a mobile version and terminals in your physical store. But if these are not connected in a consistent and coherent way, then you’re present in multiple channels, not omnichannel.

Think of omnichannel as telling one story across different channels, presenting integrated, seamless experiences regardless of what device your customers use. If done well, omnichannel can give you more conversions and help in building integrated views of your customers.

One common use of omnichannel is for “click and collect” scenarios: a customer starts a purchase over the phone, completes it on desktop and picks up in-store. Or a customer browses products over mobile, goes into a store to try and test, then buys it online. Location-based apps at airports are another instance of omnichannel. Picture how airport displays guide you from check-in through to boarding, with beacons set up to alert you via mobile to relevant offers as you make your way through duty-free shopping.

Here are two other examples of omnichannel:

Coop Alleanza, a leading grocery distribution chain in Italy, offers customers interactive shopping by combining:

-Online experiences where they can check and compare products, reviews and offers, and
-In-store digital displays where they can update user profiles and access location-specific content and promotions.

Pathé optimized digital cinema experiences for its customers. Cinema-goers can not only buy tickets via Pathé’s mobile-optimized website, but also share film suggestions with friends and arrange cinema visits - made possible through integrations with popular calendar and messaging platforms such as Doodle and Whatsapp. Pathé’s website has become its main sales channel, offering customers an improved experience even before they visit the cinema.

Going omnichannel might seem overwhelming. Here are some tips to get started:

1. Multichannel is a necessary foundation. Consider the multiple channels and touchpoints where your customers are and how you could optimize these.

2. Choose one project or customer journey. Create some logical paths that cover these channels and touchpoints in different scenarios.

3. Omnichannel is a corporate-level decision. Align your departments on goals so that they are not working on disparate metrics to the core purpose.

4. Create a story that lives across channels. A lot of content tends to be created for specific channels. Take a step back. Spin a story that resonates with your customers, regardless of the channels they’re on.

This is the third in a series of four blog posts on “Content commerce: Behind and beyond the buzzwords”. The next posts will take a closer look at headless.

Find out about Magnolia for commerce.