Is it Omnichannel in here, or is it just me?


Consumers today are a demanding bunch. Their  “anytime, anywhere” expectations have  caused smart retailers to invest in costly e-commerce platforms as commonplace additions to brick and mortar stores. But this “multichannel” approach used to woo customers wanting both physical and digital choices is no longer enough in 2016. Move over multichannel, “omnichannel” retailing is bringing the consumer an even more convenient and evolved shopping experience.

The difference between “multichannel” and the trending “omnichannel” strategy lies in the integration of the shopping experience. Multichannel retailing offers the consumer a choice of channels to complete their purchase, such as a storefront, a catalog, or a website, but each of the channels stands alone.

“Omnichannel,” on the other hand offers a seamless and integrated experience to the consumer.  Multiple channels can be used on any given transaction. All of the virtual and physical channels of a retailer operate together to provide the same experience and message easily and quickly. For example, Chipotle enables customers to place orders wherever they are, and Starbucks gives coffee lovers the option of checking and reloading their card balance on their phone, the website, or in the store.

But implementing omnichannel strategies doesn’t have to be based on expensive technologies. On-demand retail or pop-up shops are emerging as an indispensable part of omnichannel  strategies for traditional retailers looking to create new shopping experiences as well as for predominantly online retailers needing an affordable physical presence. Consumers might buy online and pick up in a mobile or semi-permanent shop, or buy in a store, initiate a return online, and complete the return in a “drop shop” set up in a neighborhood for that very purpose.  The options are endless, but the key to a successful omnichannel strategy is meeting your customer where they are and giving them the tools to do whatever they need to do regardless of their location or device.