Omnichannel Marketing vs. Multichannel Marketing
Omnichannel refers to the multichannel marketing approach that provides the customer with an integrated shopping experience. The customer can be shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, via phone, in a brick-and-mortar store, or a combination of all of these channels, and the experience will be seamless.
This strategy is different from multi-channel marketing, which is defined as the ability to interact with potential customers on various platforms.
All omnichannel strategies will be multi-channel, but not all multi-channel marketing strategies are omnichannel. The key differentiator is how the different platforms work together to create a seamless, integrated experience for the consumer.
Why you should consider an omnichannel strategy
Today’s consumers are already interacting with brands on an omnichannel level. Recent data shows that 73% of customers use multiple channels during their shopping journey. Customers are routinely using smartphones, desktop computers, and in-store visits to inform purchase decisions, with 82% of consumers referencing their phone while shopping in a store.
For brands that have already embraced omnichannel marketing, the rate of customer satisfaction is 23 times higher than those still using inconsistent or incomplete multichannel marketing. As technology continues to advance, it is likely to become more and more ingrained into our daily lives. To remain competitive brands will need to embrace a full omnichannel strategy.
Ready to embrace omnichannel but not sure where to start? Here are 10 brands that are already killing it to inspire your next move.
1. Ikea Click & Collect Saves customers time
The mega furniture retailer is well known for keeping prices low by letting customers manage their own experience. That means that a trip to Ikea involves finding, pulling and loading items into your car without the help of Ikea staff. However, even Ikea realized the need for more flexible fulfillment options, and beginning in 2016, they started building out the ‘click and collect’ service. This omnichannel play allowed Ikea to use its brick-and-mortar stores to its advantage while also pushing further into digital and increasing customer convenience. 58% of customers have used ‘click and collect’ at least once.
2. A virtual shopping tote to make shopping at Crate and Barrel easy
Crate and Barrel built its omnichannel program based on how customers were already shopping. According to Joan King, VP of e-commerce for Crate and Barrel, many customers were already referencing their mobile phones during their in-store shopping experience. Plus, she noted, “It’s not great to carry glasses around the stores and lug things around as some of our products are heavy.”
As a response, the brand created Mobile Totes. These ‘totes’ are tablets that enable the customer to search for products and view real-time inventory. As shoppers browse the store, they can scan product barcodes to see specifications, read reviews, and add items to their shopping lists. When the customer is ready to leave, they can head to the Mobile Tote checkout line where an employee will gather items for purchase. Shoppers can also email their list to themselves for later.
3. Sephora’s in-store experience is heavily supported by technology
In 2017, Sephora was the number 1 beauty retailer in the world, boosting growth and profitability at a time when many retailers were closing their doors. This is not surprising, given the retailer’s big investments in omnichannel marketing. In the store, the shopping experience is heavily supported by technology. The company’s mobile app uses location-based marketing to recognize a customer when they enter the store, serving them relevant information such as a store map and special offers. Additionally, make-up artists use iPads and other devices with clients to showcase different shades and styles.
Once the customer is outside of the store, they can continue to interact with Sephora via their mobile app, which is full of beauty tips, tutorials, and news. This keeps their audience engaged no matter where they are.
4. Nordstrom is investing their supply chain as a critical next step in customer experience
Nordstrom was an early adopter of omnichannel experiences with their mobile app and with Instagram shopping. According to Nordstrom Co-President Blake Nordstrom, the next frontier in omnichannel marketing is creating a hub that will support their supply chain. They believe that the supply chain is critical to customer experience.
“When customers engage with us across stores and online, on average they spend 5-times more and profitability per customer doubles,” says Blake. In response, the retailer has announced that they will open a West Coast fulfillment center and omnichannel hub in late 2019. The company’s goal is to bring “all of our digital and physical assets together in a seamless ecosystem.”
5. Starbucks drives loyalty and customer experience through its mobile app
Consumers have a lot of options when it comes to getting a cup of coffee, so Starbucks has built its mobile app to support the customer experience and build loyalty. There is a loyalty rewards program built into the app, but the perks don’t stop there. According to the company website, the Starbucks mobile app allows customers to easily “pay for your favorite drinks and food. Order on the way with Mobile Order & Pay and tip your barista.” And app features like being able to identify songs playing in stores make the customer experience even more immersive.
6. Neiman Marcus engages luxury customers across all channels
According to Neiman Marcus CEO, CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck, the retailer is “transforming the Neiman Marcus Group into a luxury customer platform – focused on customer engagement across a luxury lifestyle.”
To build engagement, the website is configured to use past searches and geolocation to remember the customer’s size preferences and feature items that are available in their local store. Since the company knows that “new arrivals” and local events are of interest to their customer, email and direct mail campaigns are tailored accordingly. In store, shoppers can use the “Memory Mirror” to record 360-degree videos of themselves trying on clothing and save to the mobile app to view later, and the mobile app even allows users to upload a photo of an item they like and view all similar items available at Neiman Marcus.
7. Disney connects visitors to their trip plan through MagicBand
Most parents will tell you that Walt Disney really knows about customer experience. The parks are built to make it easy for both children and parents to enjoy their vacations, using technology to make an already great experience even more seamless.
With Walt Disney World’s My Disney Experience tool (which is available on both desktop and mobile devices), guests can use online channels, phone support and in park support to plan their vacations. Once they have arrived, Disney’s MagicBands connect each guest to their predetermined My Disney Experience choices, which can include FastPasses, park tickets, dining reservations, room key access and more. For guests who enjoy shopping at the park, Disney will deliver your purchases to your hotel room for free.
8. Amazon & Whole Foods create a more holistic grocery shopping experience
When the news broke in 2017 about Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods, it gave validation to the idea that retail stores are as important (if not more) in the digital age. By adding physical grocery stores, Amazon is able to provide the customer with a more holistic grocery shopping experience. This is not only great for the customer but also allows Amazon to compete against grocery industry giants like Walmart.
9. Virgin Atlantic integrates channels for seamless flight shopping
According to an interview with Virgin Atlantic Head of Multi-Channel Sales and Development, Christopher Coleman, customers touch an average of 2.6 brand channels when considering and researching their airline purchases. And although more than 80% of journeys start on the Virgin Media website, only 20% of prospects actually convert on that channel. When customers visited different channels, they would have to start the buying process from scratch. Virgin created a program to integrate their channels more seamlessly to improve this part of the buying experience.
Virgin also uses social media to create more personal interactions with customers. The brand created a campaign to highlight passengers’ unique experiences while on their flights. Their #FlyPE (Premium Economy) campaign encouraged customers to tweet about their flying experience, and how flying Premium Economy helped their business, for a chance to win free ad space.
10. Nike invests in their owned distribution channels
Nike has a new mobile app that was built to power both in-store and Nike.com sales. The app enhances the shopper experience through access to the NikePlus rewards program, which offers members exclusive products, personalized workouts, priority access, free shipping, and 30-day test wears. This rewards program not only builds in ways to keep customers buying through special offers, but also creates on-brand opportunities for customers to continue engaging Nike once their purchase is complete.
Nike is also launching new direct-to-consumer store formats while streamlining its number of wholesale distribution partners. While wholesale distribution still accounts for the lion’s share of Nike’s sales, some 70% in 2018, they are looking to their own channels as the future of controlling the seamless customer experience.
51% of companies use at least 8 channels to communicate with their customers, but far fewer are using these channels seamlessly. The result is a customer experience that is disjointed and at times frustrating. As we look to the future, brands will need to align and integrate these channels in order to stay competitive, retain customers and grow. These 10 brands are examples of how omnichannel strategies can improve the customer experience. What omnichannel experiences have you had recently?