What is meant by omnichannel?

What is omnichannel?


Over the years, the way in which consumers are shopping has evolved. Where consumers used to shop in a physical store (single channel), after a while these stores started opening web shops (multi channel). These web shops were initially standalone entities, with a clear different customer experience than the physical stores. Consumers however didn't appreciate this separation, and wanted clarity over all channels. This resulted in the coupling of the different channels, so prices and conditions between channels would be the same (cross channel). Eventually, the channels themselves became decreasingly important for the consumer, which sole interest lies in the experience he or she receives when ordering something.

An omnichannel company primarily focuses on Customer Experience. Customer Experience encompasses the total customer's sensation of the brand, not of individual channels or touch points. An omnichannel company has a uniform image of its customer, while the customer consequently perceives all services through every channel. An omnichannel Customer Experience is the evolution of the multi-channel or cross-channel approach, that used to be considered distinctive. While in the multi-channel approach it was considered normal to focus on optimizing single channels for serving the customer, in the omnichannel approach the focus lies on a clear, centralized and coordinated approach -aside from channels- to be able to bind and interest the customer. This means that where the customer used to order a product online, this was sent to the customer's house. Now the customer has the choice of retrieving the product at the nearest store, where products ordered online can also be swapped or returned.

Omnichannel is the way a company is organized, in order to facilitate a uniform brand perception through all channels. The omnichannel IT architecture is a derivative of the business architecture. This encompasses brand and product strategy, as well as the organizational structure with all involved processes.

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