“I keep hearing about this Omni-Channel thing. I heard it’s mostly a retail strategy. You think it might apply to our business?” The answer is definitely YES regardless of your type of business.
“Doing the Omni-Channel thing” – it almost sounds like a dance, 🙂 – and actually, some might say it is. In the last post it was stated that “there’s really only 3 reasons a person buys the exact same product from one source or the other ” well, there actually is a fourth reason ” customer experience.
- How easy was/is it to buy the product from the selling source?
- What experience(s) have you had in the past with the seller?
- Do you have a personal preference to one source or the other because of friends, relatives or financial gains?
The third point would be difficult to influence a change in buying habits, so let’s look at the first two points.
The key to the Omni-Channel is the first reason – how easy was/is it to buy product from the selling source. The definition of Omni-Channel states that it is about the customer engagement experience . And, that means the customer experience both present and past.
The problem with the term Omni-Channel – and its seemingly tight relationship with retail – is that the word Omni means ALL and retail is only a small part of a product’s or service’s entire ecosystem. Yes, the retail industry claims that’s the whole point of Omni-Channel is that it encompasses the entire supply channel from inception to end user. But there’s more to the supply channel than getting a product in the hands of a buyer.
The reality is there is a continuous process of never ending tasks. For example: at the very beginning of a metal pole’s life, there’s the ore that’s dug out of the ground to turn it into metal. But what about the equipment used to dig out that ore? If it breaks, repairs are needed, and material and labor are used in the repair. So, is the metal pole’s life contingent on the ore being removed from the ground, or is it contingent on well-maintained equipment, which, of course has its own lifecycle/Omni-Channel?
It’s the same on the other end of the retail product. Once a product is sold at retail, is that the end of the cycle? Even something as simple as a flashlight has channel life beyond the retail sale. What about the batteries and light bulbs that need replacing? Were the batteries a new variety that must be available now for the new generation of flashlights? What about the disposal of those batteries, light bulbs, and ultimately the flashlight?
Point being, there is no beginning nor end to a product’s lifecycle/Omni-Channel.
In the next post we’ll help redefine what Omni-Channel is and how it works.