By Mylena Vazquez


While omnichannel is omnipresent in marketing today, the concept is quite a recent development. Though it was first attached to marketing in 2010, it really took hold in the world of marketing about a decade ago. In those ten years, omnichannel marketing has exploded, especially with the development of smartphones and widespread adoption of online shopping.

Naturally, retailers with large physical footprints were forced to innovate their marketing strategies in order to keep up with e-commerce competitors. In doing so, retail unlocked its superpower: a totally seamless process that allows customers to experience the full range of the shopping experience, if they so choose—both online and in person.

Online to in-store crossover functionality

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed something ASAP but didn’t have the time (or patience) to drive around from store to store seeing if they had what you needed? If you’re like me, the first thing we do is do a little online window shopping. We might go to Amazon to see if there’s anything we like that has one-day shipping. But in recent years, brick-and-mortar retailers have realized the power of online to drive sales in stores.


Take grocery stores like Publix, for example. Before even setting foot in the parking lot, I’ve already opened my personalized email offers, viewed the weekly ad, made a grocery list, clipped digital coupons, and pre-ordered Pub Subs—all on the app. Once I get to the store, the app tells me where the products are aisle-by-aisle, shows whether or not an item is in stock at that particular location, and even allows me to pay without having to leave the app. It’s easy to underestimate how appealing an in-person shopping experience can be even in the digital age, and the in-person experience is made all the more appealing with a seamless omnichannel experience.

In-store geo tracking

Retailers like Target have taken the “online to in-store” concept to a whole new level by using their app to track customers while they’re shopping around inside the store. While the idea is to help customers find their way in real-time to their desired products, it also has the benefit of further tracking customers’ in-store habits. The app tracks customers’ movements inside the store, step by step, which helps retailers optimize their layouts, merch placement, etc. By also linking customers’ in-store habits with their online and in-app shopping habits, Target can send out custom recommendations, personalized savings, push notifications at the appropriate times, and more. This geo-tracking serves to provide customers a seamless, full-service, cross-functional shopping experience across all channels—in other words, an omnichannel experience.


Final thoughts

Omnichannel marketing is absolutely critical to the continued success of retail. With the advent of painless e-commerce and lightning-fast shipping, brick-and-mortar retailers could risk falling short of evolving customer expectations. But omnichannel marketing allows retailers to provide a nearly equivalent digital experience and a tangible, in-person experience that e-commerce companies simply can’t provide. If the brick-and-mortar retail industry hopes to come out victorious, it must continue innovating and optimizing its omnichannel marketing strategy.


How does your company employ an omnichannel strategy to provide a fully integrated shopping experience to your customer base?

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