With technological developments and growing demand from customers for integrated customer service, real-time support, and strengthening of the shopping experience, it is common to hear about the adoption of omnichannel channel strategy or even omnichannel strategy.
However, despite being a concept that has been applied by more and more companies every day, this can still be an unknown strategy of companies. In addition, it is common for there to be doubts about what it is, how it works, and its importance to the business.
We now explain, in detail, the concept of omnichannel, we talk about the operation of this communication strategy, the differences between multichannel, cross-channel, and omnichannel, the main trends in the subject, and also address the challenges and benefits of adopting this communication strategy in the company. Check out the details below and great reading!
Get to know the omnichannel concept
Because it is a new expression, but that has been gaining more space in the market, demanding that companies update themselves, it is common to have doubts when it comes to omnichannel channels. After all, what is omnichannel and what is its definition? What do this expression that is present in the day-to-day life of companies, online stores, and customers mean?
It is possible to define omnichannel as a strategy that aims to interconnect the communication processes between the company and the customer, through the most diverse channels, aiming to improve their experience and satisfaction, contributing to their loyalty and maintenance with the business.
To better understand, it is interesting to divide the word into two and understand its origin: the prefix “Omni”, which is Latin, conveys the concept of “everything” and “complete”. The second part of the expression comes from English and can be translated as “channel”.
With this, it is possible to affirm that an omnichannel strategy is one that is based on the interconnected and simultaneous use of various communication channels. This process, which merges online and offline communication, aims to enhance the customer experience and make it closer and more satisfying.
Understand how this strategy works
Understood the concept of omnichannel, it is possible that there is confusion about its operation, since other communication strategies, such as cross-channel and multichannel, also have similar characteristics.
In practice, an omnichannel strategy is based on the use of the most diverse means of purchase and communication between brand and customer, in an integrated way, so that the processes complement each other, offering a more satisfactory shopping experience.
This means that a company that applies an omnichannel channel strategy integrates the actions of physical, virtual, digital tools, applications, and social networks stores. In addition, this type of strategy is characterized by the control of the purchase process in the hands of the user, who can choose when and where to make a purchase or service.
It is also interesting to note that an omnichannel strategy is not only characterized by the use of various channels, as we will see in the concepts of multichannel and cross-channel, but rather by the way in which these channels dialogue and integrate with each other.
See the differences between omnichannel, cross-channel and multichannel
To better understand what an omnichannel strategy is and how it impacts the company’s results, it’s interesting to understand the differences between it, a cross-channel strategy, and a multichannel strategy.
This is due to the fact that all omnichannel experiences use multiple communication channels, but not every multichannel action or communication can be considered omnichannel, as it requires integration and efficiency.
We explain below the summarized concepts of multichannel and cross-channel strategies so that you can understand more easily the application of omnichannel in companies. See the details of each.
When we talk about multichannel strategy, we are dealing with a strategy that uses more than one channel for sale. This type of strategy is represented by the physical and virtual presence of a store, for example, but where the sales, inventory, and logistics processes are separated.
It is common for companies to start a multichannel strategy seeking to serve the customer in various purchasing situations, but this type of strategy alone does not present the benefits that a larger integration, through the omnichannel strategy, can bring.
In a multichannel strategy, for example, it is possible that products have different prices, different delivery times, are distributed differently, or even have different availability according to the channel, which can negatively impact the shopping experience.
In addition, there is no integration of purchasing and service processes between channels, which often end up overlooking each other, which can lead to duplicate processes, unfound information, and even duplication of complaints about the same subject.
Evolution of the multichannel strategy, the cross-channel strategy can be defined when the company uses actions between the channels, in order to generate interaction between them, which tends to make the user experience more efficient and satisfying.
In this type of strategy, the communication channels are more aligned, as is the case of companies that allow the customer to make the purchase through the website and remove the product in a physical store, for example, without these engrossing extra costs.
Although the cross-channel strategy is an interesting step in customer satisfaction and in the development of the relationship between company and consumer, there are frictions that can decrease or negatively impact customer perception.
This is the case of companies that practice different prices for the same product on different platforms, do not guarantee that the user can benefit from all the advantages of one channel in another, or even presents communication failures between the strategies used.
It is also worth noting that, although the cross-channel strategy uses the exchange of information between the various channels, this data is not processed in a unified way and aims to provide business intelligence.
Finally, after better understanding the concepts of multichannel and cross-channel, it is possible to understand what, in fact, defines an omnichannel strategy:
- integration between the various channels in an easy and imperceptible way for the user;
- choice of the best communication and buying channel, according to your current need;
- smooth and frictionless transition between the various channels and without restrictions from one to the other;
- fully integrated online and offline presence, so that the company really shows itself as one, regardless of the medium or channel.
This also means that a company, to be considered omnichannel, must integrate its systems, processes, inventories, communication, marketing, and sales, in order to facilitate the purchasing process, streamline the information and meet the needs of the customer regardless of where they are and when to seek the company.
Meet some omnichannel channel trends
Now that you understand better the concept of the omnichannel channel, its definition, and also the differences between multichannel communication strategies, cross channel, and omnichannel, it is interesting to know some of the trends in this new strategy.
Elements such as improvement in checkout processes, humanization of brands, joining of online and offline strategies, and an even greater deepening of customization are characteristics that should mark omnichannel strategies in the coming years. See the details below!
Improving the checkout process
One of the strongest trends for the growth of omnichannel strategies is the improvement of the checkout process, which is often one of the points of the customer’s buying journey that most generate frustration of their expectations.
This is due to the fact that, often, the abandonment of the purchase process occurs close to its completion, which makes experts believe that it is necessary to modify the way in which the information is presented at this stage to reduce this frustration.
In addition, it is still common for checkout to be performed on computers, while other stages of the purchasing process already go beyond desktops and are more performed on smartphones, such as product search and price comparison, for example.
Therefore, improving the way checkout is developed and how information is presented at this stage is not only a market trend and the adoption of an omnichannel strategy, but also represents an important challenge to be overcome by brands and companies.
Increased investment in support
Another important trend in the evolution of brands for the adoption of omnichannel strategies is the increased investment in user support. Millions of dollars are lost every year thanks to service problems, while many users report that they still don’t buy online because of dissatisfaction with the support offered by companies.
Therefore, a strategy that has been consolidated in omnichannel channel strategies is the adoption of live chat, the famous chat, where the customer can ask questions in real-time, better understand the possibilities of the product or service and even ask for help to complete their purchase.
For smaller companies, where training and making professionals available for this type of process is not economically viable, there are automation options, such as chatbots and cloud computing, that offer automated responses and intelligent data processing that allow us to develop a more intuitive and dynamic customer experience.
Humanization of brands
Another trend that goes hand in hand with the adoption of omnichannel strategies is the humanization of brands since in this type of strategy it is the company that must meet the desires and needs of the client and not the other way around.
Therefore, it is possible to state clearly that the adoption of communication tools of closer proximity to customers, such as social networks, should gain even more space in a universe of omnichannel actions.
Companies can, for example, develop strategies that make the interaction between company and customer more organic and dynamic, going beyond the sales process. Video content that dialogues with the wishes and needs of the public are great examples of communication used in favour of omnichannel strategies.
Efficient integration between tools
The integration between the various tools used by companies is one of the characteristics of omnichannel strategies and, for the coming years, the trend is that this integration is increasingly efficient, organic, and practical.
This means that companies must develop their tools in order to allow the customer to perform the most diverse actions in an easy and connected way, such as offering access to a loyalty program and, in the same environment, pointing out which offers the best fit their consumption profile.
By adopting this type of strategy, the customer begins to have a closer relationship with the brand and also devote more time to interact with it. With this, it is possible to increase the average ticket, offer personalized products and services and also ensure that the company increases its position with the public.
Joining online and offline strategies
It is also worth noting that, with the development of omnichannel channel solutions and strategies, the combination of online and offline strategies is an increasingly strong trend. This means that despite the increase in online transactions, companies that unify the two processes will have even better results.
This trend should be perceived both through online purchases made after an offline evaluation of a particular product or service, as is the case of some stores that already offer tests of products sold in their eCommerce, as well as many, arise as an offer of a particular product or condition, sold only online, for a customer buying in the physical store.
Finally, it is worth saying that the customization of communication strategies and the strengthening of the customization of products and services is one of the major trends when we talk about omnichannel since much of the perception of customer value is in feeling that a certain action was made thinking about their needs.
Therefore, solutions and tools that allow companies to offer customized products and services, according to purchasing habits, search history, and even customer interests tend to be strengthened as part of better consolidated omnichannel strategies.
Understand the challenges of an omnichannel channel strategy
Once you understand the concept of an omnichannel strategy, the main differences between multichannel, cross-channel, and omnichannel, and also the trends of this type of strategy for the coming years, it is also interesting to know what challenges companies usually face in their adoption.
Points such as centralizing customer experience, integrating and standardizing your channels, and aligning inventory and logistics operations are among the challenges companies must understand and prepare to overcome. See the details of each of them below!
Place the customer at the center of operations
One of the main challenges for the implementation of an omnichannel channel strategy is to put the customer at the centre of operations, as this means restructuring all communication, marketing, and sales strategies according to what the customer expects from the brand and not the other way around.
For this, it is necessary that the company understands what the customer wants, what are the stages of their purchase journey, from the moment of discovery of the problem to the choice of product or service, offering means for clarifying doubts,
Integrate and standardize channel management
Another challenge of the adoption of omnichannel strategies is to integrate and standardize the management of the channels used by the company, so that communication, sales strategies, offers, and customer history communicate efficiently, safely, and flawlessly.
This means that it is necessary to invest in tools and systems that allow the various departments, sectors, and even units of the company, online and offline, to communicate in a safe, integrated and agile way, assisting in the unification of processes and ensuring the satisfactory experience for the customer.
Align marketing and sales efforts
Another important point for the success of an omnichannel channel strategy that poses a major challenge for businesses, small or large, is to align the efforts and strategies of the marketing and sales departments.
For the customer to have the same experience before, during, and after purchase, it is necessary that the language, available tools, contact channels, and objectives are aligned, since communication failures between these elements can hinder or even prevent the customer from feeling fulfilled in any environment and situation.
Align inventory and logistics operations
Aligning inventory and logistics operations, especially for companies that sell online and offline, is a major challenge for applying an omnichannel strategy. In order for the customer to enjoy a purchase experience without barriers or complications, logistics and inventory processes must occur in an aligned and efficient manner.
This means that it is necessary to have a system that allows monitoring and automating these processes, both in the online and offline environments, so that there is no customer dissatisfaction, delays in delivery, or even marketing of unavailable products due to inconsistencies between management systems.
Learn about the benefits of an omnichannel strategy
Now that you have better understood some of the challenges that the adoption of an omnichannel strategy can offer to the company, it is also interesting to know the main benefits it brings to internal processes and also to business results.
Elements such as cost reduction and increased billing, customer analysis, business intelligence, and customer engagement and loyalty are among the main points that the adoption of omnichannel channel strategy offers the company.
We list below some of the benefits that the adoption of an omnichannel channel strategy can bring to the company and highlight how it can help the business reduce costs, increase its revenue and sell more. Check out:
- cost reduction in general;
- increased billing and average ticket;
- customer analysis and business intelligence;
- increased customer satisfaction rates;
- increased return on investment (ROI);
- greater visibility of the brand and business;
- social engagement and customer loyalty;
- reduction of waiting time between purchase and delivery;
- improving the company’s reputation and market perception of the business.
Learn how to turn your business into omnichannel
For the company to become omnichannel, it must integrate processes, tools, departments, and resources. Therefore, before choosing the channels of action and also defining the communication strategies in each of them, it is necessary to perform a careful analysis of the public, the processes carried out by the company and the challenges to be faced.
These challenges vary according to the size of the company, its area of operation, the maturity of customers in relation to digital tools, and even the engagement of employees in the adoption of good practices at each stage of the customer’s purchase journey.
Therefore, to transform your business into omnichannel, it is necessary to establish solid foundations for understanding the impacts of this change, define concrete metrics and objectives to monitor results, and work the company culture so that the focus is customer satisfaction.
As you can see, the adoption of an omnichannel channel strategy is not only an important step for the business but also represents strong market demand. Therefore, it is essential that the company understands this need and is in place for the coming years.
In addition to representing a market trend and a real need for the company, omnichannel also brings several benefits, such as cost reduction, increased billing, and customer engagement for companies that overcome the obstacles and challenges of its implementation.
It is also worth noting that, through omnichannel channel strategies, companies approach their customers, offer personalized service, and allow greater integration between company and consumer, which favors business profitability and decreases churn rate.
What did you think about knowing the concept of omnichannel, knowing how this strategy works, the differences between omnichannel, cross-channel, and multichannel, knowing the trends in the subject, and the challenges and benefits of applying this strategy in your company?