Technology constantly shapes the relationship between consumers and businesses today. Consumers have now shifted their behaviors and interacting with brands or businesses online is now the new norm.
According to this study, 72% of businesses produce more online content today compared to past years. With plenty of online content thrown at consumers, the challenge now as a business owner or a brand representative is to get their attention.
But more than getting the consumer’s attention, it’s important to understand their preferences and anticipate their needs while continuously improving business processes and an omnichannel execution can do just that.
What’s the Difference Between Multichannel and Omnichannel?
Multichannel – the multichannel strategy is an offer-centric approach. It lets your customers discover your product or service offer across different independent channels. Sometimes each channel can act with a different purchase goal. Maximize the multichannel approach by finding out which channels are most effective in engaging with your target customers to boost sales.
Omnichannel – the omnichannel strategy is a consumer-centric approach. It integrates multiple channels to enhance customer experience. Through an omnichannel strategy, you can deliver a unified goal across all points of contact. To maximize this approach, find out your customer’s needs at every stage of their purchase journey and create a seamless integration at every touchpoint.
How does a multichannel experience work?
For example, you have a fashion brand and a customer visits your website. The customer is offered a promotional discount as a welcome gift. The first offer is ignored, and the customer continues to browse your website. As the customer browsers deeper into your website, a second promo of an email opt-in (conversion) is offered. The customer avails the email promo (usually an automatic discount or a code) and returns to your website to finish the buying process.
Meanwhile, your brand is also present in an eCommerce marketplace like Amazon. In the marketplace, you also offer other discounts and when the customer abandons their cart to look for other products, you’ll still be top of mind through a sponsored search result.
The multichannel approach gives various purchase opportunities. In this example, your website and your marketplace both used different strategies to complete the customer’s purchase.
How does an omnichannel experience work?
For an omnichannel experience, let’s say the customer is already browsing through your website then adds a product to his/her cart but leaves it unpurchased. They’ll receive a cart abandonment email with a discount offer while a series of discount ads appear on social media. However, both offers are ignored.
After one week, your brand will switch strategies and a CSR campaign will appear through a YouTube ad. The customer finally engages and returns to his/her cart only to realize that he/she wants to go to the physical store instead. He/she abandons the cart again but receives an email with an “invitation-only” exclusive in-store discount and finally purchases.
After his/her visit to the store, the customer receives a thank you email and a Facebook messenger invitation to review the purchase. A week or two have passed and the customer will see another batch of ads, this time for a product related to his/her initial purchase. The customer journey starts all over again.
The omnichannel approach lets customers dictate which strategies are used. In this example, the strategies aren’t random. They’re well-targeted to make the customers feel like they can each have a personalized experience with the brand.
Why Switch From Multichannel to Omnichannel?
Both multichannel and omnichannel strategies are promising when it comes to boosting sales. However, most companies prefer a more customer-centric approach because a customer’s loyalty is more valuable in increasing profits in the long run. If your business already has multichannel capabilities, switching from an omnichannel strategy will be easy. Here are the benefits of an omnichannel approach:
1. Seamless Synergy Across All Channels
Unlike the multichannel strategy, the omnichannel strategy creates a unified synergy across all your customer channels. The integrated process allows you to engage with customers in the channel they prefer. You can also connect conversations through different channels without missing context.
2. Reduce Cost, Grow Sales
In the multichannel method, you have to spend costs separately whereas an omnichannel approach allows you to reduce expenses while continuously growing profits. For the multichannel method, you’re forced to spend on a contact center while also separately funding money for market research. In the omnichannel method, all avenues of contact provide you with useful data, so you no longer have to spend additional cost on market research. The data gathered from your omnichannel efforts gives you valuable insight to deploy effective marketing campaigns and use your resources efficiently.
3. Engage the Right People, at the Right Place and at the Right Time
Since the omnichannel strategy is a customer-centric approach, it focuses more on customer behavior and experience. The omnichannel strategy together with the customer journey map is the formula to increase customer satisfaction. The journey map tells you WHEN to engage with your customers while the omnichannel method tells you WHERE to engage with your customers.
4. Improve Data Collection and Interpretation
An omnichannel approach allows you to collect data on all channels like social media, shopping carts, cookies, etc. Through this information, you can have an Omni-view over your customers. The data you gathered can help you analyze their behaviors, intent, and needs to create better programs that will benefit both your customers and your business.
An Omnichannel Experience
Providing an omnichannel experience for your customers is no longer an option but a must. In this day and age where technology thrives, online and in-store shopping integration is demanded by the consumers. They are looking for a customized experience and a personal connection with your brand, and the omnichannel approach is the way to do that. While CEOs and business owners that are looking to future-proof their businesses should know that an omnichannel strategy is the way to go. In the end, the omnichannel experience not only provides emotional connections to customers across all channels but also drives long-term business growth.