Omni-Channel focuses on the further development of multi and cross-channel distribution paths in online retailing: all sales channels can be used simultaneously. To apply the Latin term Omni (everything, whole, everyone) in a “commercial” setting, the product range, marketing and the channels themselves have to be configured centrally.

Multi-channel and cross-channel already represent a sales philosophy with multiple touchpoints. The further development Omni-Channel follows the approach of considering all company and product information as well as possible incentives for a purchase decision as a whole. All information is made available to the customer via digital as well as classic distribution channels. The omni concept presupposes a kind of convergence of all digital and physical touchpoints – whether stationary trade (PoS), catalog, e-commerce or call center. Today’s customers want to use everything at the same time, but they also want to have access to the same product range and related information.

Omni-Channel: a hybrid solution

Omni-Channel is a hybrid solution in which components from multi-channel and cross-channel merge. On the one hand, the customer has access to various sales channels, and on the other hand, all the touchpoints mentioned are controlled centrally from one point. Usually, this point is the webshop.

Important: The categories ‘When’ and especially ‘Where’ no longer play a role with Omni-Channel. The technical and mobile possibilities offered by internet, smartphone and tablet ensure that companies are able to offer their entire product range across all channels. As a rule, the customer only perceives the different channels subconsciously, partly because there is no channel constraint in the purchase process. This enables the customer to order online and pick up the goods in the store (in-store pick-up).

Omni-Channel in practice

In addition to its online shop, a local retailer also offers a suitable app that a customer can use to log into the retailer’s ecosystem. Registered customers are then localized via the mobile app and receive personalized advertising and offers, for example. Of course, this also works via webshop, e-mail, or messengers. The provider usually tries to inform the customer in advance about limited discount campaigns (voucher code) and other customer-specific discounts. Such tailor-made campaigns often directly trigger purchasing actions by the customer.

Mobile targeting is something that’s commonly known from Google searches or Amazon. If users are logged in to these services, they will receive individual, precisely tailored results based on their last saved search result or purchase; non-registered users, on the other hand, will be shown more inaccurate results based on their available personal information details.

Due to the close integration with marketing strategies, some experts do not see the omnichannel as a sales strategy, but rather as a reaction to consumer behavior. The reason: a centralized customer database records all purchasing behavior including product selection and the channels used in a personalized manner. After analysis of the collected data, new advertising campaigns can be planned in a targeted mode.

In a nutshell:

From a technical point of view, there are few differences between multi-, cross- and omnichannel. Unlike multi-cross strategies, with omnichannel the customer can access the entire range of products at any time, regardless of which distribution channel he chooses. In addition, the marketing campaigns are also designed to be cross-channel and can also ensure greater reach via smart applications (smartphone, tablet).

For more information, we recommend that the following articles: Assortment breadth and assortment depth as well as Integration of the stationary retail trade into the value-added chain of e-commerce.

Teaser image: doomu –

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