The Buzz at Annual Summit 2013

Multichannel Is Dead – Long Live Omnichannel:

O M N I C H A N N E L was all the buzz at this year’s Annual Summit… sorry, multichannel. In fact, none of the presentations, topics or discussions mentioned multichannel this year. Why, all of a sudden, has the term “multichannel” gone out of favor when, until recently, it was being used interchangeably with omnichannel? There are several factors that contribute to this. The technology has evolved, as well as the ways customers and retailers are using traditional channels (retail) and digital channels. Omnichannel has not replaced multichannel, multichannel is just plain dead. Harsh but true.

Multichannel has been used over the past decade as the term to describe how marketers and customers interact through multiple touch points. But as digital media has evolved and become more integrated into a business’s core strategy, the term “omnichannel” has become the preferred way to describe the complete user experience.

Customers no longer sequentially move one channel to another, in a traditional “multichanne” way. In today’s world, customers use several channels at once (e.g., using smartphones while in the store) to get the most out of their shopping experience. Omnichannel includes the integration of all media / technology touch points that marketers can use to can reach customers via retail, catalog, web, and mobility.

Rediscovering CRM:

What has accelerated omnichannel for retailers is the rediscovery of CRM across channels. Powerful CRM capabilities are what ties omnichannel together. With the ability to track customers’ entry points, content consumption, preferred transaction channel, and exit points, retailers now have a powerful tool to reach customers. The retailers that have embraced omnichannel with a powerful CRM capably reach customers with the right product / message, at the right time, at the right channel / device.

Omnichannel and (Perceived) Channel Cannibalization:

With great power comes great responsibility. Retailers have the responsibility to educate colleagues of the power of omnichannel initiatives to increase traffic and sales across all channels. Just as the multichannel customer (utilizing 2 or more channels) drives up to 3 times more sales than a single channel customer, the omnichannel customer (interacting across several channels during one engagement) drives even more.

Even with this truth, associates in the stores have a perception of channel cannibalization. The perception is that mobile takes sales from the web, the web takes sales from the store, etc. The truth is, customers are going to the channel that best educates them about a product and provides the best product transaction point for their given need. If a brand does not have an integrated, balanced, and synchronized omnichannel presence, customers may go to the competition. A bad experience in one channel affects all channel sales.

Education of associates can be handled as follows:

  • Digital Marketing Education – Email and cell phone (SMS) captured at retail increases brand awareness and drives traffic sales to all channels.
  • Associate Compensation / Credit – Redefining compensation credit between channels. Sales generated by web or mobile can be credited by zip code to assigned stores. This credit could be distributed to the store as a shared digital bonus. This would encourage store associates to “recommend” digital properties for expanded assortment.
  • Conversion of Traffic to Sales – Buy online and pick up / return in store allows for opportunities to sell more or up-sells.
  • Mobility – Providing content about a product in store extends the sales experience and increase sales.
  • Store Finder / Localization – Using mobility, stores can extend the reach to drive traffic and give customers instant gratification by offering store-specific offers.
  • Inventory Availability – Offering visibility into store inventory also gives customers instant gratification to locate a store and pick up the item.

Conversion Optimization and Big Data:

This year’s also discussed how to develop strategies for getting customers to have a better digital commerce experience and to increase conversion.

Site optimization / site conversion optimization is a must-have in the retailers’ toolkit for digital commerce. Utilizing the power of big data, retailers can create a personalized experience for customers. Personalization of the customer experience requires capturing data around the customer navigation through the various digital commerce properties and where they transact. Overlaying this CRM data, linking it across digital commerce channels, and following the customer creates a true omnichannel experience. Effectively utilizing big data with omnichannel strategies ensures that customers find what they are looking for and retailers target customers with the appropriate messages and offers at the right time via the right channel.

If you’d like to learn more about any of the topics discussed above or need guidance, FitForCommerce is here to help! Let us know what you’re looking to do or where you want to go next.


  • When rolling out omnichannel initiatives, retailers must define goals across each of the key channels. It is key to work with each of the channel business teams to define individual success drivers and ensure associates understand the importance of directing traffic to different channels.
  • Train associates to capture critical data point (phone, email, address) for different channels to build out CRM initiatives. Demonstrate and educate how omnichannel can increase traffic and sales across all channels.
  • Mobility is no longer just tablet, smart phone, mobile site, or application. Retailers must focus on the customer to enable her mobility and shopping and browsing experience to create a true omnichannel presence.