We can agree that Omnichannel is a trend now and many companies and business are looking for new ways to engage with their customers. I have been working in omnichannel for a few years now and I always pay attention when people ask what I do for a living.
Most people, when they talk about omnichannel, think of companies that offers them the possibility to buy their products online or via app. Few refer of physical stores and only a couple talk about direct sales. But in reality, omnichannel is much more. It starts even before you become a customer.
One of the biggest challenges facing an omnichannel strategy is how to ensure data quality. Today, customers expect brands to deliver individual experiences when behavioral patterns have become less and less predictable.
Imagine you sell sofas. It’s easy to find a customer or a prospect who visit your online shop or website, takes a look around and check out some of your products. Maybe he/she subscribes to your newsletter looking for special promotions. Then visits your store downtown, because before buying a sofa it’s important to sit on it and make sure it’s comfortable (I always do the nap test). Of course, for sure you are not the only option, so the customer keep looking and after a few days/weeks, comes back to your website and make a purchase.
The question now is how many «customers» do you have? Do you have just one or do you have the one who bought, plus the one who subscribed to your newsletter, plus the one who visited your store and may come back?
Can you identify each of them?
If you don’t, then you’re not Omnichannel. But if you do, congratulations, you’re on the right path. When you have a clear picture of what your customer is like, regardless of how they interact with you, that gives you greater confidence in making decisions based on your customers behavior.
An omnichannel strategy is based on the data you have about your customers. So before you decide to go omnichannel, think about what your data architecture looks like and how to improve it.
Let’s continue with the example. Your customer has finally decided on a sofa and buys it at your e-commerce. Now what? Well, the customer is expecting the sofa to be shipped to his/her apartment, right? If it’s the customer’s first time buying something from you, it’s easy. You just have the address provided in the online order. But what if that customer is already in your database? A few years ago, the same customer bought a dinnerware from your store and asked to have it shipped to the office. Now you have two addresses and one customer. To complicate things further, he/she used a different email. But fortunately, keeps the same phone number.
I hope by now you understand that things can get complicated very quickly. And over the years, cleaning up all that data cost tons of money that you didn’t plan to spend.
So, it’s important to first think about how to structure your customer data. Where do you want to keep the information (sales, preferences, activities…). Today, big organizations are moving away from this big, complex, single solution to a multi-modular approach. But this comes with new challenges. You have to make sure that your different systems are connected and you don’t create the same customer multiple times at different places.
When you decide to go omnichannel, think about how to get this 360-degree holistic view of the customer. Map out your touchpoints and identify your sources of data. Define how you want to connect your databases and how to create customer profiles. You won’t have a single point of truth, but many. So make sure they are connected, talking to each other and sharing the information in the same way.
If you have done this right, you will be able to offer your customer a unique experience across all your channels and touchpoints. This way, your customers will feel great when they go from one channel to another and still receive the same experience.
The last question is whether this omnichannel approach will bring you more sales. Well, this is up to you to find out. Of course, you will have to measure and define your KPI’s… and the game continues. Good luck.