Omni-what-now?

In the world of business there are several wanky terms that are chucked around far too much. Things like blue-sky thinking, bandwith and low-hanging fruit are thrown recklessly around offices in an attempt to sound professional and credible, when in fact all that happens is you’re let wondering what happened to normal words and if you’re losing your grip on reality. (Note: if you’re using these terms you have indeed lost touch and we implore you to check yourself).

In the world of retail, omnichannel is one of those business terms that people use with a reckless, and quite frankly irresponsible, abandon. We have this odd tendency to get completely carried away with ourselves when we hear big words, but it’s time we all calmed down and stopped throwing the term at every single piece of online marketing.

In it’s very essence omnichannel means beautifully linking every single shopping channel into one seamless experience. THAT’S LITERALLY IT! It doesn’t need to get any more complicated than that, so is there really any need for quite so many roundtables and conferences about it? Probably not, but that’s a conversation for another day.

The key here is ‘linking’. If your brand runs an amazing social media campaign, has an app and a responsive website, that doesn’t automatically make it omnichannel. Channels need to deeply integrate for it to work well.

For instance, there are some retail brands out there doing a flawless job and actually have license to throw around omnichannel as pretentiously, and as much, as they like.

Starbucks

Yes, it’s the obvious one, but they’ve integrated a brick and mortar café and an app into one beautifully efficient dream. Users can log onto the app, or their mobile responsive site, to top up their credit, check rewards and order drinks before actually getting to the store so there’s no nasty waiting around time. No matter what site their using, it updates in real time across every platform so you always know exactly how much you’ve got to spend on liquid happiness, aka coffee.

Marks & Spencer

Despite a long and traditional history, they have been quick to embrace the omnichannel trend to create an easier shopping experience. Online hubs are dispersed throughout shops and if you can’t find something in a particular size/style/colour, all you need to do is scan the barcode and order the right one, either to the shop or to your home. You can also order online and go to the shops to pick things up creating incredibly easy access to products online and offline. Not to mention a 24 hour Twitter account that responds to customers, and more importantly, fixes issues instead of referring people to an automated phone line.

Oasis

They always deserve a mention when discussing omnichannel as they’ve been doing it well for some time now. Throughout stores they have sales people armed with iPads that can take payment for your purchase, give you updated product information, and their Seek & Send service will search all their stores to find a product you’re looking for and have it shipped directly to your house. Clearly they understand that shopping should absolutely not be the hair-raising, nervous breakdown inducing experience it normally is.

Naturally we could go on and on about this stuff and who’s doing it well, because apparently this is how we get our kicks these days, however, for the sake of everyone’s sanity we won’t. But it is worth noting that if retail brands don’t get involved and start integrating their various channels, they’ll be missing out a huge chunk of the market, and not even the best brands can afford that.

If you need any more information on how you can use omnichannel marketing, or you just want to have a good ole chin wag about your upcoming summer holiday, then just give us a shout.

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