With the development of internet technologies, our life changed dramatically: gradually all people are getting involved in various social networks, blogs, chats, etc., and those have become their lifestyle, not just hobby or leisure. And, of course more and more people prefer online shopping instead of visiting any physical store. It happened for lots of reasons: shopping websites and marketplaces are constantly being upgraded with new options, functions, features as well as they are keeping high customer service, in some cases providing even more profitable deals and convenient services than many brick-and-mortar stores have to offer. That’s why now we can see changes in marketing approaches from a focus on classic channels – brick and web – to a new omni-channel mix: brick, web, mobile and social.
Omni-Channel retailing pyramid
Internet transfigured retail word in several waves: transferring services to the web; e-commerce introducing; search and comparison shopping engines and marketplaces is a third wave; mobile shopping is the currently developing onset. Under such circumstances, all brands and retailers need to be more flexible, efficient, should diversify their merchant channels, promote SEO campaigns, and improve analytics capabilities.
Multi-channel retailing was firstly offered in 1999 by Circuit City: buy online – pick up in-store policy. Nowadays, if Multi-channel strategies seek to connect all the available channels, Omni-Channel is a step forward: retailers not just offering various shopping ways but analyze and consider influence of sales and track customers across all channels, not just one or two (physical stores, Web and mobile shops, TV, mail catalogs); they are also using unique software to operate and synchronize the data between online and offline business.
Thus, Omni-channel marketing policy is a perfect way of constant innovations and sales growth for offline retailers as well, suggesting a solution for that: valuable software, mobile applications, QR codes, kiosks, social networks representation, online and mail catalogs, personal approach and unique offers, introduction of SoLoMoMe (social + local + mobile + personalized) marketing strategy and more. These measures should be aimed to turn prospects into real buyers or to improve customer experience like “site ->store ->door”; others (Staples, L.L. Bean, OfficeMax) prefer collaborating with the marketplaces like Amazon to put their merchandise to various showcases.
Omni-Channel – the next generation of online marketing: main constitutive elements.
Bright and fresh examples of such modern solutions are represented by iKantam, an e-commerce applications developer. Nomi, RapidBlue, Euclide Analytics, Prism Skylabs provide hi-tech software for in-store usage. They offer wi-fi for tracking the store traffic flow, sensors for recording store movement data, sensors forming heat maps based on time and zone, special applications for video cameras, etc. All similar measures are certainly going to contribute to market enrichment and business growing.
Omni-Channel approach is fully customer-oriented, thus, in addition it is necessary to implement “listening” strategies which could be: human or automated. The first means becoming an active member of corresponding virtual communities and searching out appropriate content there. The second means using high-end technologies and software which fulfill human functions and automatically search and listen to large amount of available social media data. This model is used to make correct conclusions about what do people feel about the company, what experience they got and what problems they met, as well as how many new consumers were attracted by the others.
Operating principle of Omni-Channel marketing
For instance, Macy’s uses targeted email offers based on users’ website browsing history. In addition, they have an opportunity now do keep track of current shopper’s location from mobile devices. If the customer left a store without a purchase made, then the store manager can mail them a coupon. If the customer is making a choice or is in doubt, then he can wait for a SMS promotion. All such measures require very fast response and constant monitoring the latest trends and market conditions.
Thus, Omni-channel market rapid development is caused by rise of mobile shoppers and constantly introduced innovations, so this trend is going to move further. In turn, Brick-and-mortar traders must expand their influence by adding new channels, optimizing their in-house and mobile services to satisfy as much information hungry and mobile empowered customers as possible.
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