Is omni-channel really that great?

For over 10 years now, a businesses have grown accustomed to hearing term ‘omni-channel’. This term is particularly familiar to the organizations in the retail sector, where it is thriving. So much, that it has become a trend to design a comprehensive user-focused experience by mapping out every touch point the customer might encounter with a business.

Businesses now strive to enable their customers to be able to complete a purchase through any channel that is available at their disposal. This is the result of the mentality which assumes that this is the optimal way of generating more sales and engagement.

For this very reason the brands have been working hard with the ultimate goal of achieving the implementation of the omni-channel strategy with the aim to build sustainable and lucrative relationship between consumers and themselves.

However, what many of them failed to realise was that they were building an online model to compensate for the losses of their physical store, instead of developing a strategy that would complement the two channels. This oversight led to many issues when it came to mapping out online and offline experiences.

Omni-Channel MarketingThere is certainly a need for an omni-channel marketing strategy to utilize all available resources at one’s discretion. This would enable today’s fast-moving lifestyles and provide additional boost for seamless and hassle-free shopping experience. Businesses should remember when both digital and physical experiences matter to clients. The delicate balance between generating conversions online and offline should be maintained to maximize its effects.

So that was 2018…

AI and machine learning (ML) revolution significantly impacted omni-channel in 2018, especially in the retail, marketing, and customer service industries. However, important to note that it’s also gotten a boost thanks to advances in technology that facilitate the automation of the customer experience. Due to increased popularity of AI and machine learning, content personalization is seeing a rapid developments and it is now much more straightforward for businesses to implement personalization.

Omni-channel advances in 2018 cannot be attributed only to AI and ML technologies, however. Additional tools in the field of content management systems (GatherContent, Contentful, Prismic, etc), also contribute to  supporting and growing omni-channel concept, but it assumes well-structured content and well-defined content management processes by the businesses, which requires additional resources.

Omnichannel 2018With this development of tools, new industries, which were previously more traditional in their approach (e.g. banking), have now been seen to be trying to adapt omnichannel concept. As an example, mobile banking apps have now became standard and are seen as secure and convenient ways to conduct transactions.

What to expect in 2019?

The advancements to omni-channel concept are not going to end on ML and AI developments. Many predict the rise of customer data platforms (CDPs), which should further add to the businesses ability to build upon their omni-channel strategies and create much better profiling of their customers, based on their interactions accross multiple platforms. CDPs have the potential to enable organisations to achieve that and will play a big role in marketing, going forward.

Additionally, robotic process automation (RPA) and associated technologies like chatbots will also be trending and will become more sophisticated and effective in 2019. In an era when businesses looking to reduce costs and automate their processes, this becomes a useful asset in developing their omni-channel strategy and delivering pleasant user experience for their consumers.

However, it is important to approach these new developments in technology and thinking in a balanced manner. User data and customer journeys need to be carefully weighed up and developed carefully. With so many channels, latest technology, and target segments to cater for, it can be very easy to lose focus of customer needs and what is truly important to the company’s success.

Chatbot 2019So if you think that your business is ready for omni-channel strategy, where should you begin? The answer will be different for each business but many businesses neglect one aspect of it the most: mobile experience. It is increasingly critical to the successful customer journey. As data shows, , mobile shopping in USA has now reached over 50% of online transactions in retail sector. Mobile user experience is moving incredibly fast and what was considered to be relevant 3 years ago needs to be updated already today. Keep that in mind when developing your omni-channel strategy for 2019.