You keep hearing about omnichannel marketing strategy and how different companies are using it, but what is it really? Don’t worry, you’re not actually all that far behind. It’s a term so new that the industry hasn’t even agreed upon the way it’s spelled: omni-channel, omnichannel, omni channel.
Some people describe omnichannel as the use of cross-channel strategy, but it’s more than just deploying campaigns across multiple channels. A true omnichannel marketing strategy is one that is focused on the seamless experience of your individual customers through all channels, including digital and non-digital.
I recently had an experience at a local Nordstrom that really exemplifies how a great omnichannel strategy can lead to happy, loyal customers.
Omnichannel in the Real World
Nordstrom does a great job of creating an omnichannel experience for their customers and I would expect nothing less from the early pioneers of CRM with their personal book. The other day, I needed boots and found a pair that I loved on the Nordstrom app. I added them to the cart but I knew that boots need to be tried on for fit. I stopped by my local Nordstrom to try them on and buy. They didn’t have them in black so I tried a pair in brown.
I was ready to purchase but now I was facing having to go back online and order them in black, bringing me back to square one: this was going to be a barrier to my purchase moment. The Nordstrom associate was trained to recognize this and smartly pulled out their mobile point of sale (mPOS) to do a quick search of their inventory of both nearby stores and the online inventory. There were no boots in my size available online but they were able to find a pair just 25 miles away from me.
With free shipping to my door, I happily swiped my card and waited for my boots to arrive—receiving status updates and a receipt on my mobile device using Nordstrom’s free store-wide WiFi.
Nordstrom does not drop its valued customers off when they leave the store, or the app—they cater to me via mobile, desktop, web, and even through the sales associate who also fully understands the omnichannel movement.
I conveniently weaved in and out of different channels with this experience.
What Brands Can Learn From Nordstrom’s Omnichannel Strategy
Currently, there is about a 1:3 ratio of people to devices and that ratio is projected to increase. When you drill down and look at all the channels that can be accessed within these devices like push, email, and in-app messages, you have at least 10-15 digital channels to one person. Factor in the offline channels like your store and traditional marketing that includes TV, print, and broadcast, your ratio increases to say, 20:1.
The breadth of reach to your customer is vast. To execute omnichannel properly, you must understand the value of each of these channels to your individual customer.
It is also important to note that although traditional marketing channels have a limited amount of flexibility in comparison to the more agile digital channels, it is still a valuable player in your brand presence, discovery, and human connection.
We talk a lot about personalization here at Kahuna and with our Intelligent Events, we are achieving personalization and segmentation on a level that allows us to truly understand the story of your customer. Customers not only expect great personalization but they are also lowering their tolerance for primitive segmentation.
As your users psychologically habituate to your marketing techniques, you must adapt and get ahead of the curve before your marketing strategy is out of date and you’re left in the dust. At our recent Kahuna Labs seminar, Michael Becker, former head of the Mobile Marketing Association and Co-founder of mCordis, described that tech evolution waves occur about every ten years and we are progressing at a rapid pace. Gartner even predicts that by 2020, people will manage 85% of their relationships with a business without talking to a human.
How to become a leader in omnichannel marketing
First off, recognize the channels where you exist and where you do not. This not simply an exercise to examine where you are missing from the pie and where you’ve got a big slice—this is where you take a step back and see what your marketing schema looks like and how you are currently connecting the dots.
If you see a part that doesn’t contribute to the full picture, find out why and address it. The biggest part of this exercise is realizing that your customer, the one who’s eating the pie, may only want certain pieces and more or less depending on how they feel that day. If you realize that you don’t even have the slice that they want, you’d better get started on some baking.
There are plenty of customers out there who like to conduct their whole journey online and will only buy online and pick-up in store. Others may like to discover in store and check online or wait for a sale. Many of them don’t have a particular method, but it is important to have the channels they use available to them so that when the time comes, you are on your toes ready to proceed with their journey.
Second, break down the silos between your orgs. If you have a separate web team that is rewarded based on driving online sales and a separate team that is rewarded based on in-store sales, why would they be receptive to adopting one or the other’s initiatives? Once you unify your teams and help them understand the usage of multiple channels to bring customers to the purchase moment in their journey, and that one or the other often will attribute success to each other, an omnichannel strategy will be more widely accepted across your company.
The third, and what seems to be the most difficult task for many retailers: logistics. As I touched on before, omnichannel is not just about driving web or mobile traffic to the store, it’s about making that process seamless. A customer may want to buy online and pick up in store, or conversely, check out or discover an item in store and then look for deals online.
We’re starting to see a trend where online-only stores are increasingly seeking to open brick and mortar stores to leverage the long-term value of a physical presence. Amazon is a great example of this, as it recently opened up a new brick & mortar store in Seattle. It can leverage its e-commerce data and purchase behavior to stock inventory accordingly or transfer across stores. The physical store presents an opportunity to bring your IT stakeholders in and integrate data from both offline and online channels to create a holistic attribution model.
Technology is advancing at rapid pace and it will only keep getting faster. Instead of waiting for the moment that need to adapt, let’s get in front and define omnichannel marketing with our practices and optimize. We can’t predict exactly what will come after omnichannel, but our impact and how we respond to new technology will lay the foundation for it.
Katrina is inspired to create marketing tactics that are both innovative and results-driven. She brings a wealth of experience from Responsys|Oracle Marketing Cloud where she provided strategic consult and direction to implement key marketing initiatives for Fortune 500 companies. Katrina loves to travel and is always seeking an opportunity to experience the unique growth that comes from learning about new places and people.