Omnichannel is a term that is increasingly being used, especially when connected to retail, but how would you define it?


The term is often used interchangeably with multichannel, which is confusing, as I believe these terms are different.


In fact, I thought I would Google the definition and Wikipedia came high up on the list, but look at what they said:

“Multichannel retailing or Omnichannel retailing is the use of a variety of channels in a customer’s shopping experience including research before a purchase.”


Of course, anyone can go in to Wikipedia to change an entry, which I might do later on, but first it is worth asking how others define omnichannel.


Multichannel can be simply defined by saying that this offers the customer many different ways to contact a brand. Multiple communication channels are supported, however to correctly define an omnichannel business I believe there are three critical areas that need to be understood.


1.How customers get in touch; as with multichannel, many channels are available, in fact, the real point here is that the channels the customer wants to use should be supported, not just a limited range of channels chosen by the brand.


2.Single view of the customer; information must be shared across channels. A customer tweeting questions who then calls for help should find that the agent knows about the Twitter activity. Information about the customer and their actions is available across all channels.


3.Supply chain changes; the way customers interact with your brand may also change and I would classify this as being an integral part of switching to be an omnichannel business. For example, the integration of in-store and online shopping that may include click-and-collect or in-store returns for items bought online. Creating a seamless interaction with the brand is about the overall experience, not just the communication channels.


Three bullet points is not very succinct, so if I was trying to summarise omnichannel in a sentence I would say something like:


“Companies supporting an omnichannel approach support many communication channels, which are interlinked to create a single view of the customer, in addition to creating a seamless flow between their digital business model and the traditional one – if this exists.”


It’s still a long sentence, but what do you think? How would you define omnichannel in a single sentence?


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