What Does Omni-Channel Mean to Me as a Business Owner?

Omni-Channel and My Business

“Omni-channel – isn’t that just a fancy term for what I’m doing anyway?”

Well, maybe. Does what you’re doing result in reduced admin load, happier customers and more sales?

Or, consider this everyday sort of transaction. You post a gift offer via social media tailored to customers of a particular demographic that gives them an online coupon which they take to their local store to try out a particular product. The link they clicked on told the store to expect them and your staff have the product ready to try. The customer likes it, but the demo product isn’t in the color they want, so they order it via the store’s POS system in the right style for delivery to their home. There are no delays because the system has already adjusted inventory in anticipation of demand.

How many sales channels did you spot in that? We counted eight (answers at the end). If it all strikes you as a lot of work for one transaction, you haven’t got omni-channel.

Time was that your sole sales channel was the door from the street into your store. Then some business owners had the idea – it wasn’t that hard – of printing pictures of their stock and sticking them up around town. The even more forward thinking ones bound sales copy and pictures into book format, passed it around likely customers, and the sales catalog was born. The retail trade didn’t know it but it had just become multichannel.

And that was pretty much how things stayed for the next hundred years or so, until electronic marketplaces started to open up, first in first online communities like AOL and CompuServe, then on the web. As electronic marketing spread it became easier to analyze the demographics and tastes of customers, slicing and dicing data to a fine degree so as to target products at customers with pinpoint precision. And then it seemed like the whole world suddenly had enough of staying in one place, and went mobile. Mobile computing, mobile phones, mobile apps.

Every single one of these innovations is a new channel, and they all converge in one place – the point where your customer becomes the new owner of your product. So, as long as your customer gets there – job done?

Well, not entirely.

Different channels take on a life of their own. Multiply the number of channels by the number of products going down them, and that’s how much work it takes to keep them in sync. You only need a little mismatch for your advertised prices to get imbalanced, say, between store price and website price; or, sales through your mobile app drain your inventory, so that when someone feels like an excursion into your bricks and mortar store, it’s not there.

Per customer, these are minor inconveniences. And that’s why you won’t notice the cumulative effect, until someone finally discerns you’re not getting the sales that you could.

Omni-channel means that these separate channels come together seamlessly: customers get just one view of the product, drawn from your entire range of stock, from wherever they are (at home, online, mobile), and tailored to who they are. Whatever jumps and wiggles they might take en route between the initial viewing and the order being placed, the order is fulfilled out of self-adjusting inventory and delivered by whatever means suits the customer best. And whatever route they take, they get the best deal possible.

The only practical way to hold all these together in one omni-channel is via a software solution, and that’s where Revel Systems can help. We know the trade, and we know that every company has its own setup. That’s why we don’t offer a one-size-fits-all solution – instead we have a suite of products that, like omni-channel, fit together to make the experience seamless for you and your customers.

(Oh, and those eight channels: (1) social media; (2) demographic tailoring; (3) online coupons; (4) your store; (5) your staff; (6) your POS system; (7) home delivery; (8) managed inventory.)

Revel's solution for your business is a powerful digital platform that fully integrates all purchasing channels with the Point of Sale. This includes countless direct and 3rd party integration paths so you can customize your omni-channel solution.