Home opinion-and-analysis Cornered! Omnichannel: an opportunity and a challenge for retailers

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Omnichannel is the new buzzword in retailing and it could present huge opportunities for traditional bricks and mortar retailers, but reaping the rewards won't be easy, or cheap.

Omnichannel marketing is a concept quite distinct from multichannel marketing from which it has evolved. Successful implementation of an omnichannel marketing strategy might just mean the difference between survival and failure for old world retailers in the online world.

So what's the difference between multichannel and omnichannel? As usual there are multiple views and interpretations but the consensus seems to be that multichannel simply means a company having a number of different means by which customers can discover and purchase its products and services: high street stores, social media, web and mobile apps for example, not necessarily with any integration between these. An omnichannel marketing strategy on the other hand embraces all available channels in an integrated fashion.

The subject of omnichannel marketing was explored at length by a panel of executives from a diverse range of companies serving the retail industry at a roundtable hosted by research and consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan.

David Tyc, sales and marketing manager, Australia for Island Pacific, a global provider of retail merchandising and store operations software, summed up omnichannel by saying: "We see omnichannel as a very customer centric model where retail channels are amalgamated into one consistent path to purchase for the consumer. That path could include web smartphones, tablet, PCs and social media. This allows the retailer to understand their customer a lot more and develop tighter and much more beneficial solutions.

"An omnichannel solution also promotes the brand as the focal point through the customer's entire path to purchase. The shopping experience for the consumer should be channel agnostic and driven by a seamless and easily accessible process."

He added: "The omnichannel path to purchase usually starts with a discovery phase and the recent Nielsen PayPal mobile study found that 95 percent of Australians use some sort of online media as part of their information gathering process. Social media is a massive influencer of customer shopping behaviour and must form part of a retailers omnichannel strategy."


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Stuart Corner


Tracking the telecoms industry since 1989, Stuart has been awarded Journalist Of The Year by the Australian Telecommunications Users Group (twice) and by the Service Providers Action Network. In 2010 he received the 'Kester' lifetime achievement award in the Consensus IT Writers Awards and was made a Lifetime Member of the Telecommunications Society of Australia. He was born in the UK, came to Australia in 1980 and has been here ever since.