Omnichannel is a future that is already there. As a natural development of the idea of multichannel, the goal of omnichannel is to provide a consistent shopping experience regardless of the channel from which the customer wants to buy. Online channels with the help of a well-solved RWD take care of themselves, so what is it like with an offline channel? And is the offline channel still relevant at all?
Of course it is. Landline stores or telephone support help build brand awareness and customer loyalty. Nothing is as convincing to purchase as a free return, especially if you can do it directly in the store. This allows us to collect information from the customer, which makes our product unsuitable for him or her, but it also allows, for example, in a clothing store to be quickly exchanged for another size, and ultimately the customer will stay with us.
Why am I writing about this today? Let me start with the story I recently participated in. The action takes place during the last Christmas break and is connected with the willingness to buy equipment from an apple.
As is typical during the Christmas break, the Christmas sales start. For a long time I've been looking at laptop promotions, because I couldn't help spending 8000 PLN for the equipment that meets my basic requirements (we encourage you in your free time to look for a new apple laptop that will have 8 GB of RAM, at least 256 GB on disk and a minimum 13' diagonal screen). It turned out that basically I have to browse through premium apple resellers' shops because of the richer offer (if the same model appears, it is usually cheaper or at the same price, but here I couldn't use the convenience). As you probably guess (otherwise there wouldn't be this article), I finally succeeded and ordered the equipment with personal collection, because I was also supposed to be around the shop.
The next day (the first working day after the holidays), I got an email in the morning that the equipment was waiting to be picked up in the living room. I was positively surprised that I got the information about the order so quickly - I always assume that most employees for the first hour (especially after the break) are able to drink coffee at most.
The day of "picking up" the equipment:
Full of optimism and with the awareness that at least I don't pay the full price for the equipment I went to buy the equipment in the living room. After entering the counter, two employees stood by the counter. One of them served the customer, who was just buying a phone, so I went to the other employee. The other one moved towards me, then he passed me by and went to the person who followed me. I assumed it was some customer who had recently bought the equipment, because he first took out his laptop with an apple and they started to discuss the possibilities and functions of the equipment. At that point, I felt like a second-class customer, but fortunately I'm quite calm and I'm not discouraged in such situations. After a while I remembered that the company never aimed at the mass market and they take care of each of their customers, because if someone already buys their equipment they will never return to the android or windows - or at least they think so. So there is nothing left for me to do but stand in line with the lady buying a new smartphone. For a good 10 minutes I listened to the cashier trying to persuade the client to buy insurance for 200 PLN per phone - it was rather tedious. At that time another employee came from the back room. I was already supposed to approach him, then he also approached the client buying the phone. I approached him and said that I came only to pick up the equipment, he asked me to wait a while. Calmly again, I said ok and, in order not to continue standing like a peg in this queue, I decided to walk around the living room and see if by any chance my ordered equipment is not somewhere in the exhibition. After a short walk I noticed that a new customer approached this third employee. I approached and culturally said that I was next in line, but the employee answered that he now serves someone else and I have to wait. The story ended up so that I didn't buy the equipment and I have no intention of buying, or at least not in this shop.
Maybe it's a matter of the apple company and the assumption that their equipment is of such high quality that people will come and buy it anyway. After all, few companies can afford it. I have no intention of discouraging anyone from buying in this store because someone else might have had a completely different experience in this store - so I have no intention of pointing and stigmatizing anyone. I want to draw attention to the importance of the offline channel throughout the process and what it can lead to.
Why did I start with omnichannel? Because the idea is that I should have a similar shopping experience in each channel. Of course it is not possible to serve as many customers at once as in an online store, but no customer should feel worse. Even if our platform opens up for more to regular customers (e.g. through a discount policy), showing a new customer the future benefits with regular cooperation will increase their willingness to buy on our platform. By treating everyone's platform in the same way, he will feel that he is just as polished as everyone else.
According to omnichannel, completing a purchase through the offline channel should not involve a worse customer experience. Probably in your business, the offline channel generates less turnover than online, but it is the offline channel and customer care that affects customer loyalty. In an online channel you can compete with the look and feel of the platform, then the customer also feels well treated, because it is better to spend your money in an online store that inspires trust. Unfortunately, in the B2B sector in the online channel, the last word often has just the price, and you can not always compete with it.