Understanding the Shopping Revolution: Welcome to the Omnichannel World

Mar 7, 2022

Continuing on from part one of this story, we referenced a recently published Special Report from The Economist entitled The Retail Renaissance which stated: “One-to-one is shorthand for today’s upheaval in the world of shopping.”

In reviewing the impact of all this disruption, we explained that the net effect was to precipitate the rise of the “omnichannel” – the amalgamation of the offline and online worlds. One of the difficulties in explaining omnichannel communication is that, to articulate the idea clearly, it’s important to accept the need to use some of the jargon of the category.

Omnichannel Marketing Explained

Simply put, omnichannel marketing is the integration and cooperation of the various channels organizations use to interact with consumers. The objective is to create what brand marketers call “a consistent consumer experience.”

These channels include both the physical (for example, stores or, in the case of a financial institution, bank branches) and digital channels (for example, social media platforms and websites).

The goal of an omnichannel communications strategy is to create a convenient, seamless user experience for consumers – giving them the opportunity to find products and services for purchase online, in-store, or a combination of both – such as “buy online and pick up in-store.”

Today, organizations across a wide range of industries are leveraging omnichannel strategies. These include – in addition to the retail category – healthcare, technology, finance and more.

The Omnichannel Approach is Consumer Centric

The omnichannel approach is, above all, consumer centric. It ensures that the consumer has a positive, consistent experience on each channel, by offering a few key elements:

  • Consistent, identifiable corporate communication
  • Personalized messaging based on the specific interests you’ve demonstrated you need or are interested in based on your past behaviour
  • Content that is informed by past interactions – as per the above point – and reflect the current stage of what the experts call “the consumer’s journey”

As we stated in part one: producer push has been replaced by consumer pull.

Good for Shoppers, Not So Good for Shop Assistants

“Bad for shop assistants, good for shoppers.” This is the interim judgment of The Economist who, in its appraisal of the retail transformation, goes on to explain: “That is the obvious inference from the upheaval in retailing that is leaving shopping mall and high streets, and millions of low-income jobs, surplus to requirements, yet panders to the consumer’s craving for convenience.”

This, The Economist admits, is an over-simplification. Retail-related jobs will change, but not disappear. They are likely to become more stimulating. “That is because more tasks, from ringing up the till to showing the way to the nappy aisle, will be automated, leaving employees to offer more valuable services aimed at winning repeat customers.”

Conclusion

Workers whose job used to involve showing people where the pasta sauces are, now advise on what types of pasta to make.

This is the view of a former lingerie retailer Mark Pilkington whose book Retail Recovery: How Creative Retailers Are Winning in their Post-Apocalyptic World has recently been published. As the book explains, technology is reshaping almost every aspect of the supply chain and is lowering barriers to entry to new and innovative start-ups, which are re-making sector after sector.

Additionally, some incumbent brands and retailers are experimenting with novel ways of doing things – from turning mere shopping into an immersive “theatre”, to creative ways to measure and retain loyalty.

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