Some of you may remember James Carville’s famous slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid,” coined during Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 Presidential campaign.
The purpose of the slogan was to remind campaign workers to focus on the economy, given the fact that the country had slid into recession during then-President George Bush’s time in office.
Meant to be used as an internal phrase, the slogan took on a life of its own and was mimicked often.
In the world of mobile, it’s time for a similar cry. The plea is this: let’s stop focusing on “mobile” as a channel or marketing strategy and start looking at it as part of an omni-channel experience that customers — both B2C and B2B — are increasingly expecting from all businesses.
The reality is that customers are people, and people like to discover, research, discuss, buy and advocate for products and services when and where they like.
Trying to narrow them to any one particular channel or channels might be good for tracking or cost efficiencies, but it’s not a winning long-term strategy for any business. In fact, those that create the best omni-channel experiences for their clients will hold a significant advantage over the competition.
What Does It Meant To Be Omni-Channel & Why Is It Important?
According to Wikipedia, omni-channel (or, more specifically, omni-channel retailing) is defined as “the evolution of multi-channel retailing, but concentrated more on a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels.”
When most marketers refer to omni-channel, they are thinking specifically about channels like in-store (or brick-and-mortar), email, web, social networks like Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, smart phones and tablets.
Omni-channel could potentially involve things like television (especially via interactive tools that connect television to mobile like Shazam), outdoor advertising with QR codes (yes, I said QR Codes) and even “in-game” experiences through consoles like the Xbox.
While many companies have established presences and experiences across several channels, few have stitched together a holistic experience that allows consumers to pick up and leave off where they want.
Fewer still track customers across these multiple channels using CRM or social CRM. This last part will become increasingly important for all companies as customers expect that the businesses we interact with will leverage all the available data from all channels to provide us better recommendations and service.
In case there were any doubt about the importance of becoming omni-channel, consider a study done by Deloitte which states that “Omni-Channel customers spend 93% more than customers that shop direct/online,” and that “Omni-channel customers spend 208% more than customers that shop in store only.” Hard to argue with those statistics!
What Are the Essential Elements Of Omni-Channel?
Given that omni-channel retailing is a fast evolving space, best practices have yet to be mapped out. However, we know anecdotally that there are some critical elements that brands should be adopting over time.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but some building blocks that will help define a successful omni-channel experience:
- Responsive Design. The creation of digital assets that change based on the device (laptop, tablet, phone) they are viewed on.
- Connected Offline/Online Experience. An ability to connect an in-store experience to the digital/mobile one.
- Consistent Branding. This doesn’t mean a “one size fits all” approach, but rather ensuring that color, logos, language and visual cues all match.
- Great User Experience Starting With A Good User Interface (UI). Every brand should ask themselves, “Is this easy enough for a three-year-old to use? A 103-year-old?”
- Intuitive CRM. Are you collecting the right data across the in-store, digital and social space to truly know your customer?
- Well Mapped-Out Buyer Journeys. Understanding how your buyers discover, learn, compare, buy and interact post-purchase is critical. There will be different flavors of these but ideally, there are four or five primary personas.
Examples Of Companies Doing Omni-Channel Well
Because the concept of omni-channel is still somewhat new, there are not a ton of companies doing this well yet. This will, of course, change over time — but for now, there are a handful of companies that have at least started to chip away at creating the right experience.
After asking some smart friends for examples of companies doing well in this space, the responses I got (and tend to agree with) were Starbucks, REI, Moosejaw and Cabelas. There was universal agreement that nobody has nailed it, but the reason these stores score well is because they have all worked hard to create a great mobile experience (phone and tablet).
They have also invested heavily in what is known as the “endless aisle” — otherwise known as the ability for smaller footprint stores to provide order access to a greater amount of SKUs in store.
Last but not least, their ability to use CRM data to customize the experience and treat customers holistically is far advanced. This means understanding when to sell and when to nurture, just like any good sales person would intuitively do.
Do you have suggestions of companies big or small that are doing a good job creating an omni-channel experience?
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.