Technology has had a huge impact on the way that people shop, both in-store and online.
It's common for a shopper's path-to-purchase to include stops at every single one of a retailer's touch points.
This includes a brick and motor location, desktop website, mobile site/app and social media.
As a result, omni-channel experiences are very prevalent.
On its most basic level, omni-channel is a multi-channel sales tactic that provides shoppers with seamless experiences online (across all devices and networks) and in-store.
Starbucks is the ultimate omni-channel experience inspiration thanks to its next-level loyalty rewards program.
Starbucks gives its coffee-fiend customers a free rewards card. It can be used to make purchases in-store and online. Shoppers can check and reload a card's balance using their phone (website or app), on a desktop or in-store. Changes are updated immediately across all channels as soon as they're made. If a customer notices, in line at Starbucks, that their balance has dwindled down to $0.05, a few taps on their phone will square them away before the cashier asks, "What I can I get for you?".
So, instead of defining and planning separate experiences for in-store, desktop and mobile, it's time to integrate all three into one shopper-friendly experience.
Consistent aesthetic, messaging and service across all channels makes it easy for shoppers to jump from one to other without a hitch.
Determining what your own omni-channel experience will look like involves working with different departments, including the executive team, marketing, IT, customer service and the staff that work directly with customers in-store.
Getting all of these departments involved will make creating a coherent omni-channel strategy across all store locations, websites, apps, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (etc.).
Stay tuned for more on omni-channel from us. Next week, we'll take a look at how to implement a strong omni-channel experience.