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What does omni channel mean?

Written by
Saad Merchant
Published on
September 22, 2023

The digital world has evolved so far that customers don’t view product experiences in silos anymore. It is now the norm for customers to discover a brand’s product on their social media, purchase it on an online marketplace or product website, and then engage with customer support on the brand’s mobile app, and switch between these channels and more in a seamless manner. This integrated customer experience across multiple channels is called omni channel. But what does the term omni channel actually mean? And how does it benefit businesses and customers? Read on to find out!

What does omni channel mean?

Omni channel means an integrated customer experience across multiple channels and touchpoints, such as physical stores, mobile apps, web shops, social media, online marketplaces, SMS, and smart devices. It provides customers with the convenience of enjoying a product experience that continues across all these channels in real-time, and it enables businesses to engage customers across all these touchpoints.

As such, omni channel is a comprehensive strategic approach that inovles building cross-channel e-commerce integrations. It encompasses omni channel commerce, omni channel marketing, and omni channel customer support. Omni channel experiences enhance customer satisfaction, maximize sales, and enable data-driven decisions. Retail giants like Amazon, Starbucks, and Apple are often cited as successful omni channel brands.

What does omni channel mean as a term?

Derived from the Latin word “omnis”, which means “all”, the prefix “omni” in omnichannel could also be co-related with the term “omnipresent”, which refers to the same entity existing simultaneously in multiple places, as one unified experience. As explained, within an omni channel experience all the channels and devices that a brand’s product is sold from are integrated and exchange customer data in real-time.

In contrast, multi channel which is incorrectly used synonymously with omni channel, refers to products being independently present on multiple channels without being integrated.

Read more about all the differences of omni channel commerce vs multi channel commerce →

What does omni channel mean for customers and businesses?

Omni channel uniquely benefits both - customers and businesses alike, by enhancing customer experience and by enabling businesses to meet customer expectations, increase sales opportunities, and make data-driven decisions.

How does omni channel uniquely benefit customers?

From improving product visibility, increasing availability across channels, and offering unique product experiences relative to touchpoints, here are few of the many ways omni channel benefits customers:

  1. Inventory Visibility: Real-time inventory visibility across all channels ensures that customers can access accurate product availability information, reducing cart abandonment rates.
  2. Personalization: Tailoring recommendations, offers, and marketing messages based on customer data increases the likelihood of conversions and improves brand loyalty in existing customers.
  3. Seamless Checkout: Streamlining the checkout process, whether online or in-store, enhances the customer experience and reduces cart abandonment rates.
  4. Responsive Customer Service: Enabling consistent and responsive customer support across channels is essential for building trust and loyalty.

How does omni channel uniquely benefit businesses?

Brands that embrace omni channel strategies are often seen as more innovative and customer-focused, giving them a competitive edge. Here are a few of the many ways omni channel benefits businesses:

  • Increasing sales and revenue: Enabling customers to easily transition from one channel to another while experiencing a consistent product experience, results in higher conversions and frequent purchases.
  • Unified Customer Profiles: Centralizing customer data from different touchpoints, such as buying preferences and purchase history, enables more personalized and targeted interactions.
  • Customer Retention: Monitoring customer retention rates to determine if omni channel strategies are enhancing loyalty.
  • Data-Driven Insights: Businesses can gain valuable insights into how customers engage with their brand across channels and touchpoints. This data can be used to refine marketing strategies, improve products, and better serve customers.

Explore more unique benefits of omni channel commerce for customers and businesses →

How do omni channel experiences work?

Imagine a scenario where a customer sees a product on social media and clicks on a link that leads them to a webshop. The customer decides they would prefer to try the product at a physical store before buying. They use the webshop’s store locator that helps them discover product availability at stores nearest to them. In-store they receive personalized recommendations and a special discount for downloading the brand’s mobile app. Days later, they use the app to exchange the product they purchased for another product.

This interconnected customer journey is called an omni channel experience. When customers receive promotional offers and personalized product recommendations on multiple channels, it’s called omni channel marketing. And, when customers can seamlessly contact customer support across multiple channels via a web shop or a mobile app chatbot, personal chat like WhatsApp, social media channels, or Live Support from any device, this is known as omni channel customer service.

Some of the many types of omni channel experiences include:

1. Online and in-store omni channel customer experiences:

This includes displaying online and offline product availability, store locators, in-store pickup, mobile checkout, unified loyalty programs across channels, personalized offers, and recommendations.

2. Mobile-friendly omni channel customer experiences:

This includes in-app promos, click-and-collect options, mobile wallet payment integrations. geo-targeted offers, QR code scan for detailed product info, and mobile customer support.

3. Chatbot and AI-powered omni channel customer experiences:

This includes 24/7 AI-powered chatbots that solve queries and make smart suggestions, personalized recommendations based on customer shopping history, predictive analytics, omni channel customer data integrations.

4. IoT (Internet of Things) integrated omni channel customer experiences

This includes omnichannel experiences that extend to IoT devices, enabling customers to get notifications and make purchases via smart home appliances, wearables, connected vehicles, and voice-assistant devices.

Discover in detail the many different kinds of omni channel experiences →

In conclusion

So, what does omni-channel mean? It means breaking down the barriers between different channels and creating a unified, seamless experience for your customers. It means personalization, consistency, and data-driven insights. In today's customer-centric world, going omni-channel isn't just an option; it's an eventuality. It's about meeting your customers where they are and providing an exceptional experience every step of the way. In an era where customer experience is paramount, understanding what omni channel means and implementing it can be a game-changer for businesses.

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