Digital has transformed the way people make purchasing decisions. Therefore, marketers need to understand the role that the omni-channel experience plays in their existing customers’ and prospects’ path-to-purchase.
Although traditional media such as television, print, direct mail, and word-of-mouth still play important roles, digital technology now amplifies these while also introducing new communication channels. Digital technologies have made it much easier for consumers to conduct research before purchase and created a fast-growing e-commerce channel.
Mobile devices have grown at a rapid rate and now account for 60 percent of all the time spent on the Internet (Deloitte, 2014). Mobile is not only affecting e-commerce and in-store buying as 12 percent of all digital retail buying now occurs via mobile (Fulgoni, 2014). Moreover, search queries play a vital role in today’s path-to-purchase as a study shows that consumers consider search their most important shopping tool (comScore, 2014).
Omni-Channel vs. Multi-Channel
The multi-channel approach involves a company-centric view focusing on the consumer touch points across all the channels of the company and seeing these channels as operating in silos with only little integration. On the other hand, the Omni-channel approach puts the consumer at the center and rebuilds the offer to deliver the most value. Hence, attention is given to the touch points that consumers use to connect with the company and aligning these to a seamless customer experience.
Advertising and In-Store Buying
Using display-related online advertising such as banners, rich media, video, and mobile, marketers seek to influence consumers’ purchasing decisions across all channels. Combining search and display-related advertising provides a powerful synergy. This helps build the brand equity that ultimately lifts both e-commerce and in-store sales.
Implications for Marketers
To embrace today’s consumer-centric, omni-channel world, marketers need to:
· Determine which channels the target audience prefers. Marketers need to focus on channels that work and eliminate those that infuriate consumers and reduce marketing efficiency. Thus, marketers need to learn how consumers experience the brand across channels and devices.
· Ensure access to data and integration. Marketers should identify data access points for different stakeholders such as sales representatives needing access to customer information. Integration implies that whatever channel the consumer uses the same stock at the same price with the same promotions will appear and is updated in real time.
· Measure performance across all channels. Business analytics need to measure consumer behavior across all touch points and measure performance based on KPIs. As such, marketers should consider how they make sense of and act on the data to deliver a unified consumer experience.
comScore. (2014). Mobile Path to Purchase [Presentations and Whitepapers]. Retrieved 7 May 2015 from http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Presentations-and-Whitepapers/2014/
Deloitte. (2014). Digital Influences More Than $1 Trillion in Retail Store Sales. Retrieved 7 May 2015 from http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_US/us/press/Press-Releases/
de Kare-Silver, M. (2013). Multi-Channel vs. Omni-Channel. Retrieved 7 May 2015 from: http://dekaresilver.com/
Fulgoni, G. M. (2014). “Omni-Channel” Retail Insights and the Consumer’s Path-to- Purchase: How Digital Has Transformed the Way People Make Purchasing Decisions. Journal of Advertising Research, 54(4).