How the most successful e-tailers are transitioning from multichannel, to omnichannel, to omnibrand

Author: Myk Baxter

Do you feel that your eCommerce store is continually playing catch-up to the Googles and Amazons of this world, when it comes to innovating to stay one step ahead of rivals and in the process, capturing sales, revenue and customer loyalty more easily?

To a certain extent, that may seem inevitable; after all, they’re the ‘big fish’, with an almost unimaginable depth of resources.

However, if there’s one small step that you can take to significantly level the playing field between your modest e-tail portal and the aforementioned giants, it’s a change in mindset.

By this, I’m referring to you adopting a truly customer-centric strategy, rather than a brand-centric one. And if you want to ensure that more people become interested in and love your brand as customers, almost to the point of you becoming a mini Amazon or Google, you need to remove the single biggest barrier to making that possible: fragmentation.

For your eCommerce store to provide a genuinely customer-centred experience, you simply must avoid that experience becoming fragmented due to the customer being given a rather different impression of your brand from one channel to the next.

This brings me neatly onto the subject of what I and other eCommerce experts actually mean when using terms like ‘multichannel’, ‘omnichannel’ or even ‘omnibrand’ that can be confusing even to many online businesses already working with an eCommerce agency.

So, what is this multichannel vs omnichannel thing all about?

These terms that you might have seen flying around the eCommerce marketing world aren’t mere buzzwords designed to make the professionals look a bit clever. So, let’s explain them – starting with ‘multichannel’ and ‘omnichannel’, as these two words are especially often confused with each other.

Now, the term ‘multichannel’ might seem easy enough to understand; it’s about a brand extending its marketing message across every channel where its customers are present. By ‘channels’, eCommerce experts mean such things as the main online store itself, social media, email, any customer-facing brick-and-mortar sites that the organisation has, and so on.

Read that definition again, though, and you’ll be able to begin appreciating how multichannel eCommerce marketing might begin to differ from omnichannel eCommerce marketing. The starting point for multichannel marketing is the company itself, and then moving the company’s message out to the various channels on which it is active.

By contrast, an omnichannel approach is defined by its emphasis, first and foremost, on the customer, and how this customer interacts with the brand’s multiple channels.

This helps to bring a distinct difference in how the customer is treated across those channels. A brand following a multichannel strategy tends to entail it imparting the same message to the customer over all of its eCommerce platforms.

When an omnichannel approach is taken, though, the customer really is at the centre of the strategy, with the message changing and adapting in accordance with how the customer has interacted with the other channels.

An omnichannel approach can take your brand truly into the 2010s

You only need to hammer the term ‘omnichannel eCommerce marketing’ into Google to be presented with lots of examples of how an omnichannel strategy could manifest for any given e-tailer.

However, one good example would be if a customer registered for e-newsletters from your brand, and also ticked the box indicating they were happy to receive SMS messages.

Your store might be set up to respond to this by sending them an SMS ‘welcome’ message with a discount code for their first purchase from you, following up this interest via email.

The customer might then click on a link to your store in that email, perhaps adding a product to their virtual shopping cart, but then leaving due to being hesitant as to whether they should purchase.

They may then be presented with a retargeting ad for that product while browsing elsewhere on the web. Tempted, perhaps they even click on that ad and come back to your site to buy the product, signing up in the process for Facebook Messenger updates, so that your store can use this app to give them order and delivery confirmation information.

To advance into the 2020s, though, it’s an omnibrand experience that you’ll need to provide

So far, then, so good. You’re probably starting to get a sense of how just a little change in mentality could be instrumental in driving your e-tail store’s hits, sales and revenue in the 2010s – but what about the decade ahead? Well, that’s where omnibrand strategies look set to come into their own.

As the very term indicates, ‘omnibrand’ can be seen in many ways as the natural consequence of the gradual refinement and mastery of the omnichannel approach. Whereas a lot of eCommerce stores at present are applying the omnichannel lesson in a slightly patchy fashion, with consequently mixed results, it looks likely that by the middle of the 2020s, such issues will have been widely addressed.

What does all of this mean for your company if you are working alongside an eCommerce agency right now?

Well, it means that you need to be diligent in continuing to hone your e-tailer’s approach, properly integrating your various channels so that customers aren’t given inconsistent messaging across these eCommerce platforms with regard to such parameters as pricing, special offers and product availability.

Indeed, it means that you’ll need to invest sufficiently in the relevant technology and logistics to get your store’s consumer touchpoints working together nigh-on seamlessly, so that at some point in the future, you aren’t ultimately thinking much in terms of separate ‘channels’ at all.

You can bet, then, that as the 2020s progress, the top eCommerce experts and stores will bring all of the above factors, priorities and considerations together to give their customers a thoroughly integrated and consistent experience deserving of being described as truly ‘omnibrand’.

To get a sense of how such an ethos could translate into lucrative reality for your own eCommerce store, don’t hesitate to get in touch directly with me, Myk Baxter, or contact Visualsoft about the support that it can give you as your go-to eCommerce agency for the 2020s.