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What is Omni-Channel Approach and How Does it Work?

Alekh Verma | February 7, 2023
omni channel approach

Technology evolves at a rapid pace, and businesses must adapt to stay competitive. The distinctions between what we do online and what we do in real life are becoming increasingly blurred, and businesses must go with this change to stay relevant and serve customers in the best way. Instead of focusing on different experiences for different devices such as desktops, mobile phones, tablets, and smartwatches, businesses should focus on a holistic approach- an omnichannel approach that allows customers to use their services wherever they want.

Understanding Omnichannel Approach

Omnichannel is a lead nurturing and user engagement strategy in which a firm provides customers and prospects with access to its goods, offers, and support services across all channels, platforms, and devices. For example, as an omnichannel experience, a company would offer support through multiple channels such as live chat, Facebook messenger, email, and phone, instead of just focusing on one channel.

There are a lot of benefits that a company can enjoy if they adopt an omnichannel approach in their sales, marketing, and service strategies.

  • Greater Reach

You'll be able to reach your customers wherever they are with omnichannel retail, marketing, or service approach. Your customers no longer have to search and search to find you. They can reach your team or your service/product with only a click, a message, an email, or a simple phone call, no matter where they are.

  • Profit Increase

People find it much easier to purchase your product or service if they can find it on multiple channels or platforms, which most definitely would have an impact on your profits directly. Offering a multi-channel shopping experience also makes it easy for consumers to make repeat purchases or renew their subscriptions, which ensures recurring revenue.

  • Enhanced Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is essential for reducing churn and keeping customers coming back to you. It goes without saying that your customers are going to be happier in the long run if they have the option to access your business through multiple channels. It does formulate a better relationship with your customers if they can access your customer service or sales team with just one click, or purchase a product with ease regardless of the platform or device they're using.

Omni-channel vs Multi-channel

People often confuse multi-channel with omnichannel, but in reality, they are quite different from each other. The user has access to a range of communication alternatives in a multi-channel environment that aren't always synchronized or connected. An omnichannel experience, on the other hand, includes not only several channels but also the ability to smoothly navigate between them.

Although all omnichannel experiences use many channels (multi-channel), not all multi-channel experiences are omnichannel. Let’s try to deduce this with an example, a business could have amazing mobile marketing, a well-designed website, and engaging social media campaigns, but it is not omnichannel unless all these platforms work together (or are connected to each other). Moreover, all devices and platforms are considered in omnichannel experiences. An omnichannel experience encompasses all channels, platforms, and devices, whereas a multi-channel strategy may only comprise two or three.

Nowadays, most businesses have multi-channels i.e., having a website, blog, Twitter account, Facebook account, etc. In most cases, however, the customer still lacks seamless experience and the ability to message across all of these platforms.

That’s why it’s now more essential than ever that businesses adopt the omnichannel process. An omnichannel experience takes into account each platform and device a customer will use to communicate with the organization, while also ensuring a consistent and enjoyable experience across all channels.

Building an Omnichannel Marketing Campaign

Businesses use unified messaging, consistent visuals, and consistent collateral to promote their products and services across all channels, devices, and platforms in omnichannel marketing. Marketing teams can use omnichannel marketing to deliver a more effective brand message by combining the strengths of each communication channel. They can also reach out to potential customers at the proper time, improving the likelihood of turning them into leads.

Moreover, it positively impacts the sales and service departments too. Customers will expect a similar experience for their shopping and customer service experiences if your business shows up on all of the channels and platforms they use.

It might look simple enough but omnichannel marketing needs serious work and immaculate planning for it to work. Here’s a detailed step-to-step guide on how to build an effective omnichannel marketing campaign.

1. Begin with the fundamentals: your website and social media accounts

It takes time to develop an omnichannel experience. You don't have to be everywhere at the same time; you'll be OK. Start with the basics and focus on your website and social media accounts and master those before moving on to other channels or platforms. Make sure you're posting on a regular basis and responding to users who contact you through such channels.

One common mistake that brands make is focusing on one channel and ignoring the others. If you’re just posting on one platform or responding to customers on one channel and neglecting the others, then the customers are most definitely going to notice that. Doing so would create a negative image of your brand in front of the customers and it might come across as unprofessional and inconsistent.

2. Build an app if required

Depending on your industry or product you might have to take the plunge and build a mobile application. With ever-evolving technological advancement, it has become essential for brands to move along with the need of the hour- building a fully-functional and stunning mobile application. If you sell consumer goods or provide software as a service (SaaS) tool, then your brand could benefit significantly from having a mobile app.

If you’re wondering where you could find a developer to build this app then you do not need to look further because we have our very own in-house team of skilled developers to help you build the app of your dreams!

Related: Find an App developer for your business: How, Where, and When?

3. Provide solutions for customers every step of the way

When you add a new channel to your omnichannel strategy, make sure you're solving for the customer at every turn. An omnichannel strategy should never be built around gaining more visibility for the brand or increasing sales, although these can be the byproduct of your plan, they should never be the main objective.

Your major goal should be to provide superior service to your customers so that they have a pleasant, problem-free experience. Moreover, your brand’s messaging on each channel, as well as how you communicate with people on those channels, should be guided by the purpose of solving for your customers.

4. Use consistent messaging across all platforms, but avoid utilizing boilerplate information

Use the same messaging across all mediums to offer a consistent experience. If you're running an ad across many social media sites, for example, you'll want the messaging to be consistent. You can play around with the language as long as the overarching message remains consistent.

However, beware of overusing the boilerplate content. Doing so might lead to duplicate issues, which could result in search engines and social media platforms penalizing you. That’s why we suggest you avoid copy-pasting content without any thought. Instead, focus on building a unified brand voice that allows you to experiment without being inconsistent.

5. Provide device/platform specific CTA

You should end every interaction with customers on particular channels with a CTA, whether it's through an ad, an organic post, a private message, a phone call, or an email. And always be mindful of making the call-to-action (CTA) platform or device-specific.

For example, if you’re posting a social media advertisement then the CTA should lead to your mobile application as people use social networks on their mobile phones. Similarly, always close your email with a link to schedule a meeting, and not with a link that would trigger app downloads as more people use their desktop/laptop devices to access emails. Make sure the CTA doesn't throw the customer off and instead adds to the smooth experience you've previously provided.

Omnichannel Marketing Examples

If you're looking for some ideas, there are a lot of organizations out there that have already implemented amazing omnichannel user experiences. Let’s have a look at the examples in detail-

  • Disney

Disney has nailed the omnichannel experience down to the tiniest of nuances. It has a beautiful mobile-responsive website as your introduction to the business. And even their trip-planning website works successfully on mobile devices, which is a rarity in itself.

Once your tickets are booked, you can plan your entire trip, from details like dining places to acquiring your fast pass, by using the My Disney Experience tool. You can use your smartphone app in the park to find the attractions you want to visit and check the estimated wait times for each one. Additionally, you can use the Magic Band program which is a tool that acts as your hotel room key, a food ordering tool, photo storage for any pictures taken of you with any Disney character, etc.

  • Bank of America

The omnichannel approach at Bank of America is taken seriously. They're setting the bar for a dynamic experience as one of the biggest brands in their field. It allows the company's mobile and desktop apps to handle everything from check depositing to appointment booking.

Although Bank of America still has a long way to go before incorporating every possible benefit that the omnichannel approach could offer, they still have achieved a lot. Users still cannot apply for loans or perform other more difficult banking tasks from their phones at this time. However, they have reduced the hassle of paying your monthly bills or depositing a check for their customers.

  • Oasis

Oasis is a U.K fashion retailer brand that has fully utilized the potential of an omnichannel strategy. It has successfully fused its e-commerce website, mobile app, and brick-and-mortar stores to create a simple and pleasant shopping experience for its users.

When you walk into one of its stores, you'll see sales associates with iPads ready to provide you with accurate, up-to-date product information on the spot. These iPads also work as cash registers which allows the sales executives to allow you to check out from anywhere in the store. Moreover, what’s most fascinating is that if an item appears to be out of stock, the staff can arrange an online order for you to have it dispatched to your home right away.

  • Starbucks

A brief glance through the Starbucks rewards app reveals why it is widely regarded as one of the best omnichannel experiences available. To begin, you will be given a free rewards card that you can use whenever you make a purchase. Unlike other customer loyalty programs, Starbucks allows you to check and reload your card by phone, website, in-store, or on the app. All channels instantly update to reflect any changes to the card or your profile.

Moreover, if you’re standing in the line at Starbucks and realize you do not have enough on your balance then you can easily reload it quickly and by the time you swipe your card, the cashier will be updated.

  • Chipotle

Don’t you hate it when you’ve ordered something online and by the time you reach the restaurant, they haven’t finished preparing your order? I mean what’s the point of ordering something online if, in the end, you end up standing in line or waiting for your order to be prepared. This is one problem that Chipotle has completed radiated by implementing an omnichannel approach in their business.

Use the mobile app or the online system to place your order from anywhere. If you’re on the go and want to place your order at Chipotle as quickly as possible. By creating an account, you will be able to save your favorite orders for a faster and more seamless experience.

  • Timberland

Timberland uses near-field communication technologies to create a connected consumer experience in its physical stores. Near-field communication technology is the software behind data transmission apps such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. Users can use this technology to tap their smartphones against a specific chip that wirelessly sends data between the two devices.

Timberland has fully utilized this technology to make shopping easier for its customers. In their stores, all customers are handed an iPad which can be used to scan chips on all products, doing this gives the user all the information about the product on their iPad. Doing this allows for an easier and faster shopping experience as users do not have to seek sales clerks for product information. Moreover, as customers scan more items, they start getting recommendations on their iPad based on their shopping history.

  • Orvis

Orvis is a sporting goods retail business that has won awards for its omnichannel strategy. They used first-party data to determine that their target demographic was predominantly composed of affluent clients aged 50 and up. And although this demographic is not well versed in using the technology, Orvis still created such an environment that has benefited both- the brand and its customers.

To assist, Orvis provided tablets with CRM and pre-installed e-commerce software. These tools can be used for billing online as well as in-store purchases, and if any item is out of stock, then it can be ordered using the same tablet. Customers who need help with a product can locate a representative and utilize their tablet to discover more about an offer. Using such tools not only enhances customer experience, but the company can also benefit from the gathered information.

  • Pepperfry

Pepperfry is an Indian-based home furnishing brand that was built by two friends who wanted to create a better shopping experience for purchasing furniture. They achieve this goal by combining their online store with an immersive in-person experience. Pepperfry allows its customers to check their product catalogs online so that users can select the product they want to purchase and then can travel to a Pepperfry store to check the product in person.

There are sales executives in the store that help the customers in browsing for furniture or check the quality of the furniture they have selected online, which reduces the buyer's remorse by a great margin. Once the customer is satisfied with the product, they either buy it in the store or return home and buy it online.

  • Barnes & Noble

One of the most important things that a reader is looking for is the experience of buying books in a physical store where they are surrounded by thousands of books and fellow book lovers. Barner & Noble, one of the leading bookstore chains, has hacked the sweet spot between using the technology to make people's lives easier and at the same time maintaining the age-old charm of traditional book shopping.

With Barnes & Noble, you’ll have comparable, if not identical, experiences whether you use the Nook app, the mobile website, the desktop website, or the physical store to access its products. On top of these omnichannel experiences, it includes an in-store cafe where consumers can sit and read.

  • Google Chrome

Google is another proponent of omnichannel experiences, with its browser, Google Chrome, serving as an example. Users' history and activity are automatically synced across all devices when they connect to their Google accounts. Users can also use their phone app to browse tabs that were left open on their PCs. This seamless synchronization allows the user to have a great experience regardless of the device they are using. And this is the reason why Google Chrome is one of the leading browsers today. And it just shows how important it is for a brand to use an omnichannel approach to better serve their customers.

Omnichannel Marketing Platforms

When it comes to implementing a successful omnichannel strategy having the right marketing platform is essential. Spreading your resources across each platform must be done efficiently for an omnichannel approach to be beneficial to your organization. Platforms designed for omnichannel marketing will help your company run smoothly across all channels. Here are a few examples of these marketing platforms-

  • HubSpot CRM

The complete CRM platform offered by HubSpot is one of the leading all-in-one marketing automation tools. It’s flexible and capable enough to help your business with everything such as increasing sales, growing leads, building a website, improving customer service, etc., and that too across all platforms. Marketing Hub, Service Hub, CMS Hub, Sales Hub, and Operations Hub are the five main hubs that make up the HubSpot platform.

  • Shopify

Although Shopify is primarily an e-commerce platform, it excels as an omnichannel marketing tool. Shopify not only allows you to sell things, but it also allows you to develop effective email and social media ad campaigns. Moreover, it includes customer engagement at all stages of the customer acquisition funnel.

To sum it up, Shopify assists organizations in creating individualized experiences for their customers, optimizing sales to increase revenue, and measuring the effectiveness of their marketing initiatives. What more can you ask for!

  • ActiveCampaign

This platform integrates a number of automation, marketing, and CRM solutions to help your company and its customers have amazing experiences. The features are divided into four categories based on your lead interactions: Reach, Nurture, Convert, and Grow.

Moreover, Not only does this platform provide customer assistance, but it also provides free online training so that you can become an expert in using it to its full potential.

Conclusion

Before you start developing a plan for implementing the omnichannel approach, it’s essential you have all the departments in your organization on board like Product, Sales, Marketing, Customer support, and customer success. It’s essential that every department understands the objective of your omnichannel initiative in the beginning so there are no chances of miscommunication in the future. Finally, your approach should include a strategic plan for creating a unified, consistent experience across numerous platforms. Because this is a relatively new emergent concept, there is still the opportunity to start small and grow later.

Certainly, there is still a long way to go in terms of omnichannel user experiences but we're not far away from a world where brands of all sizes will use omnichannel. Technology has advanced significantly over the last decade, there’s no doubt that future advancements will allow even the tiniest businesses to communicate directly with customers, regardless of where they are, what they're doing, or what device they're using.

Alekh Verma

CEO and Founder at eSearch Logix Technologies!

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