Omni-channel: a term most business enthusiasts hear at least once in their career. Other than its coined reputation as a “buzzword,” I can’t help but find its definition… well, confusing. Just check out these three definitions for the word:
"Omni-channel is defined as a multichannel sales approach that provides the customer with an integrated shopping experience." - Hubspot
“[Omni-channel] means that your business markets across as many channels as it can to reach the target audience.” - Adweek
“Omni-channel is a reflection of the choice that consumers have in how they engage a brand, and therefore is best represented as how brands enable their clients and consumers to use these channels to engage with them.” - Forbes
Yeah, confusing might just be an understatement.
Aside from its connection to business, multichannels and reaching customers, its definition seems to morph in accordance to its purpose for each business department. Here are three omni-channel strategies to demonstrate this theory.
Spreading a Marketing Campaign
Brands are no longer restricted to promoting campaigns through newspaper clippings and local billboards on the side of a congested highway. The additional avenues of communication spawned from the growth of technology now challenges brand marketers to execute a sufficient plan that attracts key clients’ interest.
Omni-channel marketing assists with that execution, promoting marketers to strategize the delivery of a product across a select multichannel. Mars Chocolate implemented such a strategy in honor of its new product M&M’S Caramel.
Upon watching the video, viewers can click the embed link in the bottom left, which redirects visitors to the product’s promotional coupon page on Target Cartwheel, Target’s discount savings website. Consumers can then continue to add the product into their shopping cart for purchase.
Consumers can then complete the shopper experience by sharing their find on social media.
Putting the “UX” in Luxurious Shopping
The retail industry most prominently coins omni-channel to its consumer strategy. As stated by Hubspot, retailers view omni-channel as a multichannel that promotes “an integrated shopping experience.”
The luxury clothing store Farfetch is highly familiar with this version of omni-channel. Buyers craving high-end fashion pieces can search, purchase and track items beyond their desktop screen. The digital store can be accessed through mobile browsers and their personal app. The app continues to better the user experience by sending consumers immediate mobile notifications about current sales, new arrivals and editorial updates. The strategic collaboration of these platforms adds efficiency and ease to Farfetch’s shopping experience.
Supporting Clients to the Fullest
Customer support teams also indulge in omni-channel strategies. However, their form of omni-channel is associated to the goal of supporting clients’ needs.
Netflix upped their client support by investing in customer service-only multichannels. Aside from a service hotline, the video-streaming corporation developed a separate website, help.netflix.com, to host its Help Center. This site offers access to its live chat feed, allowing customers to message their questions and concerns with a live support rep.
Curious or unsatisfied customers are even given an extra channel of communication through social media. Among its suite of Twitter profiles is the Netflix CS page, which adds to the omni-channel ideal by offering updates on general system and functionality errors.
Based on all that info, I came up with the best (or the least complex) definition for omni-channel:
Omni-channel is a multichannel that simultaneously executes and delivers a singular, fluid client experience or service provided by a business.