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Editor's Pick

Corporate Attitudes And Adoption Trends Of Multichannel And Omnichannel Marketing

Platt Retail Institute

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Advancements in digital technology are causing a seismic shift in consumer purchase behavior. Customers today access multiple channels to execute a purchase, leading to the requirement that all channels work seamlessly to support the brand and the experience. This trend started with the Internet, but is now being advanced in a very dramatic and rapid fashion due to mobile and other digital technologies. Consumers, empowered with these digital communication devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are pressuring organizations to deliver compelling and innovative experiences to retain top of mind and share of wallet. As distinctions between purchase channels blur, companies must build a singular view of and communication strategy with their customers, which can include touch points such as call centers, direct mail and catalogs, the Internet, mobile, physical selling locations, and social media. 

It is not the buying process itself that is changing, but rather the path to purchase. Customers no longer follow a singular path to purchase, but many different paths. Firms that fail to adopt an omni-channel marketing (OCM) strategy risk losing their customer relationships. However, viewing this as a strategic opportunity can lead to competitive advantage for skilled marketers by ensuring that all consumer touch points have seamless interoperability to deliver a consistent brand and shopping experience. 
Businesses in most industries are aware of these challenges. For marketers, these will generally include the following:
•    Customer fragmentation, making it more difficult to reach customers.
•    Multi-channel challenges, which are burdening marketing departments.
•    Uncertain ROI from making channel investments.

Compounding this shift to OCM is the recognition that traditional, above-the-line marketing is not as effective as it once was. As well, customers are driving the demand for digital media, and that is another pressure forcing marketers to adopt OCM.  
While the logic and rationale for adopting an OCM approach are self-evident, the execution path is extremely complex. This is due to various factors. One is perhaps the sheer complexity of integrating the functions and systems required to form a singular customer view. Another is that each organization, with its unique brand, systems, and distribution channels will need to discover the solution that best fits its business. Beyond the operational complexities, changing the functional aspects by which a company and all its employees perform to accommodate this new operating model 
is no small task. According to Forrester, there are three primary reasons for this:

•    Organizations tend to function in disparate operating silos.
•    Companies tend to lack system-wide standards for all customer touch points.
•    Most firms tend to lack cross-divisional oversight.

With these challenges and opportunities in mind, this research was undertaken to gain insights into multi-channel use and OCM adoption.