The adjective "omnichannel" is half Latin, half English and describes the possibility to address customers across all channels. Regardless of the operating routes, they are inspired by the impressive experiences they are offered. The separation between stationary trade in shops and e-commerce is eliminated with an omnichannel strategy in B2C and B2B, resulting in true customer commitment with enormous added value for the customers: Maximum availability goes hand in hand with the best prices, shortest delivery times as well as haptic experiences and personal advice.
For five years now, the term has been at the top of the hit lists of studies that ask about the most important technological trends in the retail trade - such as the Survey of the EHI Retail Institute. Despite this awareness of Omnichannel, Amazon is still the main beneficiary. The platform has a market share of 27 per cent in German e-commerce. Or, it probably has. It is not known exactly, as Amazon immediately denied the concrete figures that appeared in the summer of 2019.
To provide customers with consistent shopping experiences across all touchpoints worthy of the omnichannel attribute, the various channels of dealers and manufacturers must be perfectly linked. This applies not only to the merger of branch and online shop.
Customer service and logistics, marketing automation, the website, the app, the blog, the social media presence must not be allowed to run past each other. After all, the customer wants to perceive the brand as a unit and simply enjoy it, instead of becoming a business expert who can differentiate between all these things and therefore have a better understanding of the complexity and points of friction.
On one hand, the integration of the channels is technically highly challenging. On the other hand it is also a challenge in the minds of the decision makers. To master them, an integrated strategy consultation and intelligent solutions within the system landscape equally. The fact that customers are not necessarily aware of these challenges, but intuitively switch back and forth between smartphones, tablets, computers, digital signatures or shops when it comes to brand perception, should therefore not be seen as a shortcoming, but as an opportunity.
You can increase your sales significantly if you take this variety of touchpoints seriously and integrate them - by making it possible to see a pair of nice sneakers in a shop window, google them and view them in web shops before you encounter them again on Instagram for example. In the end, you decide to buy them in that store in the city centre and not to order online - but at the online price and with same-day delivery after work and cross-channel loyalty points. "Sorry? That's possible?", the German townswoman asks herself. "You bet!", any New York woman would say.
If omnichannel means providing excellent customer service along the entire customer journey and a holistic, consistent shopping experience is the measure of all things, then the above must go.
Because only those who, as in real life, hardly distinguish between online and offline, between mobile and desktop, between national and global, will be able to meet customer demands and possibly even create the most valuable things: sustainable customer retention. This is the way to generate knowledge about the needs of consumers - valuable knowledge if you want to secure the company's growth and market position in the long term and sustainably.
One thing is clear: "Omnichannel" is much more than a buzzword. It is also more than a technological trick. It is a future-oriented strategic cosmos that needs a certain mindset to be able to bear fruit at all. This mindset places the customer and his needs at the centre of entrepreneurial thinking and action. To think that way, can be learned. Only in the next step can you approach the question of what an omnichannel strategy should look like for your own software landscape and System selection and their technical implementation.
Even though time is definitely pressing, one should not act hastily in a double sense if one wants to establish omnichannel commerce - whether in B2C or B2B. One thing is clear: For retailers and manufacturers, the path to the perfect customer journey can only be worthwhile in the long term.
Oliver Kling is head of marketing at the German full-service digital agency dotSource and also shares his knowledge in keynotes and workshops.