It’s fair to say that multi channel has taken the forefront of thinking and marketing speak. Whereas it used to be all about brand, now it’s all about channels—omni channel being the most common term used in marketing land. As an alternative to the emperor’s new clothes, you could say that it’s all about shopping.
I don’t know about you, but when I buy something (be it online using my laptop or phone, or from on of those old fashioned things called shops), I never turn round to my friends and family and wax lyrical about the omni channel experience I was part of. What I do talk about is the service I received, the experience, the information available and most importantly, the post sales experience when something has gone wrong. Marketeers talk about the seamless journey, I talk about the level of engagement. Yes, John Lewis seem to have the multi channel right, but surely this is because they have everything else right? Seldom do you get a surly response from any member of the mighty partnership. Contrast this with Apple, where the response you get via their omni channel depends upon the channel you communicate with—try getting hold of Apple on the phone, is that still a channel?
So, whilst we need to be aware of all the channels to market, spare a thought for the soul looking to buy something by prodding, sniffing and feeling it. You can purchase anything online, so why do we have malls, the high street and outlets to worship the god of shopping at? Well, it’s simple: a huge chunk of society actually enjoy shopping. The thought of a day browsing the shops has always been an anathema to me—I was probably ruined for life when I once spent a whole day in Selfridges. Nonetheless, for many people, shopping itself in a physical environment is part of the process (I think that’s why we always turn up at T5 a week before we fly).
Data is important. Ever since Tesco launched Club Card (to the derision of the other supermarkets) it’s shown its value—shame the Co-op didn’t realise that they’d already got there! It’s what you do with the data that matters; the point is that maybe we shouldn’t lose sight of the individual as a person and not a number. I was staggered the other day when asking a simple question to be bombarded with the strategy, the plan and the vision. I only wanted to know what sales were expected in the next quarter—you’ve got it, I’m still waiting for the answer, I think it’s pretty low!
Omni channel is great, but let’s not forget about the customer.