Knowing which eCommerce platform is right for you can be hard enough to decide without throwing terms like “omni-channel” into the mix. So, what does it mean and why do you need it? Read on to find out…
When searching the internet for eCommerce solutions for SAP, there are a lot of buzzwords thrown about that all claim to enhance your business, increase your ROI and drive customer engagement. The number one term that always crops up is “omni-channel”, but what does it mean? And how does it differ from multi-channel and cross-channel?
Hopefully the following article will go some way to clearing things up for you, and explain exactly what benefits can be had from opting from an eCommerce solution that provides it.
What is omni-channel?
There are three kinds of approach to channel management: multi-channel, cross-channel and omni-channel. There isn’t a huge amount of difference between the three, so don’t worry if you haven’t grasped it up until now – there are not many who are hugely clear on it! Put in simple terms multi-channel refers to when you manage many different touchpoints at once, cross-channel is when you try to operate those channels across one another, trying to connect them and manage connections with customers across those portals.
With this in mind it is easier to understand the term “omni-channel”, because it basically refers to the evolved hybrid of both these elements. Omni-channel is the process of joining all of your touchpoints, selling channels and customer platforms together into one, and is the act of providing one cohesive, consistent service and approach across all your channels. Omni-channel is the latest model and improved version of the other two terms.
To provide this kind of approach, it requires a totally different mindset when it comes to the marketing and sales elements of your business. You need to stop thinking of one channel for one set of customers, another for a certain type of revenue and so on – you need to start thinking of your business as a whole, and of every channel as being interwoven.
Why do I need it?
There are many reasons why an omni-channel strategy is the one to adopt, but I’ve highlighted the three main areas that it can improve right here. First, the most obvious benefit, is that it brings together all your touchpoints so that they work fluidly. This means you can better use time and resources to cut costs, but what kind of costs I hear you ask? It depends on your channels and business type. If you’re a B2B business owner for example, you may well be concerned with the amount of problems you have with order management, but if you opt for an omni-channel approach, it will centralise that system so that it is more efficient, while the resource overseeing it better uses their time. A B2C company may be more concerned with brand identity, and want to promote customer loyalty across channels via the use of targeted campaigns and tailored social activity, which can all be monitored from this central port of call.
Secondly, having this kind of joined-up approach gives a cohesive brand presence online, so that customers are presented with consistency at every avenue. Not only does this give the impression to consumers that you are always online, always up to date, and reinforces you as the go-to brand for your industry, but it helps to build that all-important trusting relationship that you want to build with your customer-base. You want them to feel as though they can turn to you when they need everything from products to advice in your sector. Disjointed online platforms are often rejected outright by the consumer without a second thought, but an omni-channel presence will help to prevent this.
Finally, a benefit from your perspective as a business owner, is that it gives you the ability to centralise your order management capabilities and operations across all of your channels, easing the workload for your staff. Not only that, but you can also customise your eCommerce system to include web, mobile, call-centre and order management functionality as you add to your touchpoints or they change over time. In short, it allows for the growth and development of your business, and recognises the changing nature of the eCommerce landscape.
If you found this post of interest, please share it on your social media account.