Suffice it to say that there are different ways and means of marketing products and services to consumers. Whether you’re using brick-and-mortar store events, social media, emails, your website, or via an app, it’s relatively easy to market to an audience: after all, you’re simply using a number of different channels to inform business or people about why specific items or services better meet their needs. Yes, it is easy to bombard potential customers with advertising, but are you really supporting and meeting the needs of the customer throughout the purchasing experience?
Unlike other forms of marketing, omnichannel marketing is the process of utilising multiple marketing platforms to connect with and adjust to the needs of customers in order to create a positive and seamless shopping experience.
Breaking the term down, it is a compound of omnichannel and marketing. With the Latin prefix omni, meaning ‘all’, and the root of channel, which comes from the Latin canalis, initially meaning ‘groove, channel, or waterpipe’ and first used to denote the media of information distribution in 1537, via Hugh Latimer’s The Sermon made to the Clergie (“A foul filthy channel of all mischieves [sc. the devil].”), the term basically means ‘all methods of communication’. For marketing, being, essentially, the gerund of the verb “to market,” which comes from the Latin mercatus, meaning ‘trading, buying and selling’, the strictly business usage of product promotion and selling was first seen in the March, 1884 issue of Harper’s Magazine, which stated that: “This marketing of supplies was the beginning..of its prosperity.”
For something that can easily be defined as using all available channels to market a product or service, what differentiates omnichannel marketing is the focus. Essentially, while you may technically be selling a product, what you are actually selling is a customer purchasing experience, and omnichannel marketing seeks to improve this experience by using a customer-centric marketing model. Though there are as likely as many different methods to omnichannel marketing as there are marketing agencies, they all essentially revolve around certain aspects, such as: having a consistent message and brand presence; developing communication and interaction that is convenient without being unnecessarily intrusive; relevant, personalised, empowering consumer interaction; and the ability to quickly shift to a constantly changing customer trend or dynamic.
To see this concept in action, all you need to do is look at your morning coffee, specifically the Starbucks app that’s probably already on your phone. You can check the balance on your phone, reload it on the app, website, or in the store, and your balance is automatically updated across all platforms. If you’re in the mood for something similar yet a little different, the app can give you tailor-made order suggestions based on local store inventory, popular selections, weather, time of day, community preferences, and previous orders, all via a reinforcement learning platform that is built and hosted in Microsoft Azure. By making their marketing layered and customer-centric, Starbucks has increased overall sales as well as seen their mobile payment increase to 29% of all sales.