A person at their desk with multiple computers and mobile devices
An omnichannel experience creates a seamless experience for customers across multiple touchpoints. PHOTO: Shutterstock

With household names like Toys R Us flirting with bankruptcy following a nonchalant approach to digital transformation, you can’t help but assume that some organizations out there are looking at an omnichannel strategy as a luxury rather than a necessity. But as we cruise deeper into the era of IoT, can any major brand truly afford to neglect implementing this type of strategy?

What is an Omnichannel Strategy?

To prevent confusion, an omnichannel strategy is not synonymous with a multichannel strategy. A multichannel strategy means that your customer experience spans multiple channels. So, you might have a website, an app as well as a physical store. Congratulations, you’re multichannel!

An omnichannel experience means that your brand has a presence across channels — and all of those experiences are integrated in a way that enhances customer experience. For example, your customers can sign up to your retail app in their bedroom, become a subscriber on the train by signing up to your email list, and then activate their resulting discount at your flagship store in the city. Multiple channels are involved, but the customer is getting one, seamless experience.  

CMSWire spoke with London-based Qubit CMO Leah Anathan for her take on omnichannel strategy adoption. “You do have to have an omnichannel strategy [in 2018 and beyond], because it’s a given that if you are on multiple channels, your customers will want to interact with your brand across those channels [seamlessly],” Anathan told CMSWire. She points out that today's consumer may find something online, then go to the store to try it on. Then go back online and so on. "They’re touching the shopping experience in multiple locations,” she says.

Bill Bodin, CTO of Austin, Texas-based Kony, Inc., an enterprise mobility and digital applications company, agrees. In his a recent blog post he shared, “Today, omnichannel is more than phones, tablets, wearables and the web. It also means chatbots and augmented reality and speech-driven apps like those for Amazon Alexa — technologies that are transitioning from bleeding edge to leading edge to mainstream,” Bodin wrote. He went on to explain that in the very near future, there will be new devices, interaction modes, and application platforms to explore as well as new combinations of today’s emerging technologies.”

Why Your Business Needs an Omnichannel Strategy

If the words above haven’t yet convinced you to go omnichannel in 2018, maybe these numbers will.

  1. 89 Percent Average Customer Retention — According to the Aberdeen Group, organizations with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89 percent of their customers, compared to 33 percent for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.
  2. Americans Use An Average of 4.3 Devices — You might think that as new devices emerge, existing ones fade into the background. However, the Forrester Report on Digital Experience Technology and Experience Priorities showed that the average adult American uses 4.3 devices, with 70 percent using smartphones.
  3. Omnichannel Customers Spend 208 Percent More — Deloitte’s Annual Holiday Survey indicates that omnichannel customers spend 208 percent more on their gifts than those customers who shop in-store. It would be fair to link this increase in spend to the greater availability of information and reviews surrounding online shopping, all of which help to enhance a consumer’s confidence in the products they’re considering.
  4. 89 Percent of Customers Left Frustrated — Outside of retailing, Accenture found that 89 percent of customers get frustrated when they need to repeat their issues to multiple customer support representatives. When it comes to overall digital experiences, Kampyle found that 87 percent of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a consistent experience.
  5. 85 Percent of Retailers Say Omnichannel Is A Top Priority — It’s clear from the numbers above that consumers want omnichannel experiences, and are reaching deeper into their pockets when done correctly. But a Boston Retail Partner report also indicates that 85 percent of retailers are making omnichannel experiences their top priority. Which likely means your competitors are building an omnichannel strategy, if they haven't already.

Build It One Step at a Time

While companies are eager to build out this type of strategy, Leah Anathan cautions organizations to not bite off more than they can chew. “Don’t try to tackle 100 percent of omnichannel at once, because you may die trying. it’s not about using as much data as you can, it’s about using what you have [in hand] right now,” she said.

She went on to share that businesses need to look for things that scale and understand how to best use the data that you have right now. "Tackle it one step at a time... To build experiences that build brand loyalty, that keep people coming back, start with the data you have, use it for [specific] journeys, and then try to do it at scale,” Anathan told CMSWire.

Are you going omnichannel in 2018? We'd love to hear about your efforts in the comments or join the conversation in social media.