A few months back I was talking with my Father about work. My father spent much of his 40+ years career in Data Processing so he enjoys talking technology with his son. For the younger readers, Data Processing was a job title for folks that worked in these big rooms full of car sized computers with spinning tape reels, massive dot matrix printers, and glass windows that looked out into the office.
Back to our conversation, as I was explaining to him what I am currently focusing on at work, I used the term “Omnichannel” a number of times. I could tell my dad wasn’t completely following me so I asked if he knew what the term Omnichannel meant. He said he had heard the term a number of times on his business focused TV shows and thought maybe it was the name of a technology product or company name. It was time to define Omnichannel to my dad in a way he could apply.
The Research Phase
My dad is a big researcher before he makes a purchase. A lot of his purchases start off with a trip to that big warehouse store you become a member of to find items you didn’t know existed before you walked in but after seeing them think you can’t live without. Step #1: My dad would see something at this warehouse and maybe get his phone out and take a picture. Rarely would he just purchase it right away. Step #2: Because I think my parents own stock in that famous Seattle based coffee franchise, most of their days include at least one trip here. With their great free Wi-Fi the tablet comes out and the research begins. Step 3: Returning home gives him a chance to relax in his chair and get out the laptop and the detailed research begins. If you ask my mom, this “research” can go on for days, if not months, before the purchase is made. It can include return trips to the warehouse store or maybe others. But at some point he is ready to make the purchase.
Understanding his purchasing habits enabled me to explain Omnichannel in this way. Omnichannel isn’t a thing or a product it is a term used to define an experience leveraging multiple channels (phone, tablet, laptop, physical store visits, etc.) like how my dad does his purchasing research. But it’s more then that. If implemented correctly it is also the preservation of state from one channel to another.
If my dad was able to seamlessly switch from one device to another, picking up where he left off on the previous channel his researching experience would be that much better. And as he heads into the store for his return visit a targeted discount for that specific item delivered to his phone or wearable device would increase his likelihood to purchase.
All these factors combined make up the “Omnichannel” experience. Omnichannel implemented correctly can provide mutual benefit for the consumer and retailer.
Thanks for reading.
Sr Principal Product Manager
CA Technologies | Idaho