More and more companies are focusing on improving user experience through omnichannel marketing. This style of marketing creates many customer touchpoints that lead a consumer closer to buying no matter what device they’re using or what store they’re in. In a world where every customer has access to so many devices and wants service now, omnichannel is the way to go.
Companies using omnichannel marketing see better sales. They provide a consistent user experience that focuses on the customer. When you focus on the customer, you win!
So, what exactly is omnichannel marketing and how can it strengthen your brand and customer loyalty?
What is Omnichannel?
Omnichannel might sound like just another buzzword. But it’s an entirely new way to think about and create a customer experience across channels, devices, platforms and more.
Omnichannel puts your user at the center of everything. Then it creates a seamless cross-channel content strategy. This approach improves and transforms the user experience every time they interact with your brand.
Most companies interact with their consumers across many channels. These channels include online and physical stores, social media, mobile apps, marketing, and more. With an omnichannel experience, all communication works together to provide a fully-integrated experience. Mobile users and users in your physical location can all access a seamless, immersive experience.
What is Omnichannel Marketing?
Omnichannel marketing is a strategy that synchronizes messaging across all channels. Your company’s advertising is no longer separate from their customer service. Your social media channels align with your print marketing. Your sales emails and support emails all improve customer experience. You create a completely unified and seamless brand experience, no matter what channel your customer uses to connect with you.
Omnichannel Vs. Multichannel Marketing
But wait, you may be thinking. My company already operates across channels. See our Facebook likes? See our ticket clearance rates? And our inbound sales numbers are healthy beyond belief!
All those KPIs may be healthy and that’s great, but a multichannel approach puts your company at the center. With multi-channel, companies sell their products across more than one channel. But they are treated as separate entities.
Multichannel marketing puts the business first. It’s all about how organizations interact with customers through multiple channels offering users multiple ways to interact and become a customer. Customers can use the phone, visit a brick-and-mortar location, mobile, social, shop online and be served by the company, but how they are served work independently of each other. A customer who spent time giving their information over the phone and decides to move to another touchpoint—say messenger—will now need to start all over again.
Omnichannel brings all of those touchpoints together, each interaction is communicated and coordinated across channels so a consumer could be shopping for an item in the store one minute and making the purchase off an email alert announcing a sale based on browsing history.
Omnichannel for eCommerce
An omnichannel approach brings all channels together with the customer at the center. This results in a seamless, unified experience for your user. Any sale or interaction can be made from a desktop, a mobile device such as a tablet, to the phone, and all of their interactions follow them. It means their customer service rep knows what’s happening on their online account and can pick up where the app left off. Of course, we know not all online storefronts are e-tailers or Shopify accounts. If you have retail locations, omnichannel can follow the customer into your physical locations as well!
How to Build an Omnichannel Strategy
Omnichannel marketing is complex. It requires high-level planning and buy-in from all corners of your business.
First, you must have a full understanding of your customers and the technology they’re using. Then you can work to meet their needs wherever they are. (Hint: our 2020 State of Business Communications Report offers great insight into the tools and communication preferences of your customers).
Then you can build your strategy focusing on all channels.
To implement your strategy, you have to break down silos and enhance internal communication channels. For example, your contact center and your supply chain need to be able to communicate to ensure you can meet customer needs. You’ll need tools and technology to improve and manage communication.
Omnichannel marketing, like all marketing today, is always evolving. Once implemented, you must track your progress and adjust course as needed.
Examples of Brands Using Omnichannel
The omnichannel experience is a proven powerhouse when it comes to customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. So, it’s no surprise we see top companies around the world employing key strategies in innovative ways.
Check out these 15 brand examples of omnichannel experiences:
From the leader in branding comes a solid omnichannel experience. From trip planning to visiting the parks to making purchases on your getaway, Disney’s My Disney Experience tool has users covered. Users can plan their Walt Disney World vacation with online and mobile tools at home and on the go.
Within the tool, guests can purchase tickets or passes, access tickets, view daily showtimes, reserve and manage FastPasses+, reserve and manage dining, order food, purchase merchandise, link hotel reservations, check transportation times, and call to book a hotel.
Then Disney takes omnichannel a step further. MagicBands wristbands and cards help guests with everything! They can open their hotel door or get instructions to Space Mountain. They can even buy food and merchandise. Guests who stay in rooms on-site even have purchased delivered to their hotel for free. No more balancing that giant plush Mickey Mouse on the back of your stroller! And of course, you can personalize your band with your favorite character.
Following their own slogan “Just Do It,” Nike’s been in the omnichannel race for awhile.
Their NikePlus app hits the ground running as soon as you buy shoes. It started as a collaboration with Apple to connect your shoes to your device. Now it has evolved into a true omnichannel powerhouse. It collects data on your preferences and activities. Then it provides customized, relevant information, help, and marketing right on your device.
Nike’s also been busy elevating the customer experience in their physical stores. Their SOHO location has a mini basketball court, soccer area, and running simulations. This real-world experience also includes customer support and digital technology. There is no reason to head to a checkout counter or wait in line anymore—Nike staff are able to provide easy checkout with handheld point-of-sale systems.
Virgin Atlantic’s approach begins with their brand identity as a fun airline with amazing customer service. A lot of companies boast great customer service, but Virgin takes this claim even further. This airline allows customers to call agents directly. If you have a problem, you can reach out to an actual human and get help. And agents can also reach out to customers. No more annoying touchtone menus!
Of course, not everyone wants to talk to actual people, so Virgin also fosters a robust social media presence. And they encourage their customers to post about their experiences. They use contests and other campaigns to boost customer engagement.
Virgin Atlantic goes beyond the sale. Their customer experience is just beginning at the point of sale. For them, it’s about being there all the way.
Steve Madden uses customer information in its approach to apparel retail sales. The retailer collects consumer data from various sources. They leverage their CRM, loyalty program, and other data points to stay front and center in the minds of their consumers.
Their loyalty program awards points in exchange for data, likes, and referrals. This data is pooled with CRM data and lets the company know who is buying what and when. And when they’re not buying, the company swings into action. They use various marketing channels to encourage sales and interaction.
Then they add integrated retail and eCommerce to a data-driven approach for a winning combination.
Bank of America
Banks have notoriously provided a decidedly single-channel experience. But that’s changing and Bank of America is leading the pack. No longer do you need to bank during banker’s hours. Instead, you can use mobile apps! Do everything from checking balances, depositing checks, to transfers between accounts.
Bank of America maintains physical locations since you can’t deposit cash or get a cashier’s check from your phone. But the mobile app provides cross-channel communication on a growing number of services.
Crate & Barrel
Shopping cart be gone! No longer do customers have to try to fit that awkward furniture item into their cart. Teaming up with Cloud Tags, Crate and Barrel created a program that’s been dubbed the Connected Store and Mobile Totes experience. Using tablets customers, can ditch the cart and have all the information in their hands about each product. Customers add items to their shopping lists. Once done, the customer checks out at the Mobile Tote checkout line.
Customers who choose not to buy can have their wish list sent to them for future use. This builds Crate and Barrel’s email list and provides them with customer data for future personalization. Personalization keeps that customer from hitting the unsubscribe link. And it can turn prospective customers into new customers.
It may have started with a single ice axe, but outdoor retailer REI is a great case study for leveraging all the channels.
Their customer’s research before they buy. So REI’s website and app both provide easy access to product information and reviews. You can also get availability status based on location. REI’s app connects consumers with the world in-store. Scan any barcode to see all user reviews and product details. No need to Google it!
REI’s customer journey only begins with the sale. So, they provide ways to enhance the customer’s enjoyment of the product. Learn to rock climb on their in-store climbing structures. Or take a class on camping to prep for your National Park adventure. Even find your National Park location using their app.
REI harnesses omnichannel to give their users not just a brand experience but a worldly experience.
IKEA is the undisputed champion of putting everything into one box. So it’s no surprise that they’ve mastered an omnichannel experience for their customers.
IKEA brings its iconic catalog to life in stores. Their vast showroom obviously shows off the thousands of products. You can sit on the couches and even eat traditional Swedish food off IKEA plates. But showrooms are so 1965. So, IKEA brings the showroom to you. Use their online tools to build your room online. You can even order online and pick up in your local store that day. This is especially helpful if you don’t have three hours to kill on a Saturday afternoon.
Finally, the IKEA family card offers customers more perks and deals.
And the best thing? IKEA can seamlessly coordinate the assembly of your purchase!
What’s more convenient than coffee to go? How about a convenient app that blends mobile ordering and in-store experience. Starbucks managed to brew up an interesting and cool way to merge the physical with the digital.
Starbucks has always led the way in predictable experiences and dependable coffee. You always know what they’ll be serving up, whether in New York City or rural Wisconsin.
Their equally dependable mobile app allows customers to see menus and place orders. It also gives personalized recommendations based on location and season! How else will you know when the Pumpkin Spice Latte is in town? Plus get a free drink when you sign up and reward points every time they use the app. Then pay in-store with your phone and enjoy updated rewards across all customer touchpoints.
The outdoor retailer Timberland allows customers to buy goods online and in stores. These days, that’s nothing new. Timberland also allows customers to access online inventory in their stores. But we’re not just talking about looking at inventory lists on kiosks or hand-held devices. Timberland doubles down on experience by providing interactive TouchWalls to in-store shoppers.
You can also use in-store tablet or you can use your own device to tap tags for instant information. However, the TouchWalls provide a life-sized experience with up-to-the-minute availability.
Timberland is breaking down the walls of their stores and allowing customers to reach in and grab what they want. It effectively expands its omnichannel retailing reach.
Old Navy focuses on its customers, a key component of an omnichannel approach. They build connections between their website, their stores, and their customers’ homes at every point in the customer journey.
Their website is full of product information for easy online ordering and delivery to your house. It also lets you know where you can get your items near you. Then you can buy online and pick up in the store of your choice.
And you can now access that online experience in the store. Don’t find what you’re looking for? Old Navy staff can ship items to your home using handheld devices on the floor.
As Old Navy spins off from the Gap and its other parent company brands, we’ll be on the lookout for more omnichannel developments.
Customers are eating up Chipotle’s omnichannel experience. The fast casual food chain serves up burritos, burrito bowls, tacos and more. All using organic, ethically-sourced ingredients. And this model is a hit with consumers. So much so that it’s not uncommon to wait in line for your Barbacoa bowl.
Enter the Chipotle digital experience. Their platform allows hungry consumers to order online and pick-up in store, by-passing those lines. Just grab your digital order from the in-restaurant take-out shelf and go from zero to burrito in record time.
Plus you can take things a step further by signing up for their rewards program. You can save your locations and favorite meals, and receive personalized bonuses.
Walgreens omnichannel approach is what they call a “connected health strategy.”
According to Adam Pelligrini, Vice President of Digital Health, talking to eMarketer, “Omnichannel digital health means that our customers should be able to go online, offline and back online again to a mobile phone, to a tablet, to a phablet. And that experience should be seamless, and it should be cohesive.”
This is no easy feat. Walgreens has to juggle the demands of HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, but it seems to be working. Walgreens gives their customers easy prescription refills by email, phone, and app. They can also access virtual doctor consultations. Finally, they can sign up for programs that reward healthy habits via fitness tracking devices like FitBits and Apple Watches.
Chinese eCommerce marketplace VIP.com is going places. From beginnings as a discount retailer, they’ve become a mainstay for full price retail products and even travel and hotels. One pillar of their approach using valuable geolocation data to market products. With this information, they can use marketing strategies to get the right products in front of the right people.
Using powerful location data in combination with other strategies has been a hit for VIP.com.
Sephora stays on-brand by creating a beautiful omnichannel experience. They truly focus on each individual customer whether that customer is at home or in one of their over 2,500 stores around the world.
Sephora customers start their journey with the Beauty Bag app. Customers can load up their carts at home, and they can virtually try on products and access tools and tips. Then they can use tablets to access their bag to enhance their brick and mortar experience. Devices also guide customers to the exact shelf and suggest other shades and products. They can even match your skin tones to get the perfect shade every time. Finally, customers can access in-store makeovers and other extras.
Can You Afford Not To Use Omnichannel Marketing?
Omnichannel marketing is relatively new and it already has a proven track record of success. These 15 brands have mastered the art and have seen their sales grow. With so much yet to explore, the opportunities are wide open. Is it time to explore what omnichannel can do for your company?