Omni-channel from a consumer viewpoint is the ability to have a seamless and consistent experience across multiple touchpoints, to engage with brands or to purchase a product. From a brand’s perspective omni-channel means leveraging and coordinating the customer experience across multiple channels of communications (web, face to face, emails, social media or mobile) to understand consumer behavioural patterns with the aim of delivering relevant product information to help with recruitment or retention strategies.
The retail shopping experience has changed dramatically over the last few years. Shopping for a Fathers day gift at a local mall ten years ago literally meant trawling the entire mall until a consumer found that perfect gift for dad.
Times have changed as shopping for a Father’s day gift today as a digital savvy consumer would take on a very different experience. Before entering the mall consumers are already empowered with pre-shopping research. Consumers would be aware of deals available at shops that have already sent their promotional offers whether it be via email or apps push messaging, consumers would know what items are on sale, and ‘whats new’ and available in stock.
Consumers would also have likely seen reviews, and images of intended items to purchase via social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest (all of which have popular apps utilized on a mobile phone).The traditional linear approach to shopping is likely to be replaced with consumers walking into a mall and going into the intended shop of purchase, simply purchasing what they had planned to purchase then leaving the store. The post shopping experience is where consumers would then share their shopping experience via social media channels whether it be anger, frustration or pure delight.
An omni-channel journey is the least customers expect as they increasingly dictate how they want to be engaged and serviced. With the addition of social media and mobile channels, the challenge for brands is to tailor across all the channels for the finest consumer experience.
The impact social media has on the omni-channel customer journey can range from increasing awareness, influencing purchase, earning loyalty and gaining brand advocates.