It happened in an instant. All of a sudden, the world was buying coffee with Starbucks accounts, accessible via a card we keep in our wallet, an app we store on our phone, or a customer log-in on the store’s website. We can purchase at the counter like always or in advance on our mobile devices. We can pay with Apple Pay. Opt for an e-receipt. Tip electronically.

Overnight, buying coffee became much more complex.

Well, it wasn’t overnight, though it is startling how rapidly retail stores adapted to these new technologies. When a company utilizes multiple channels to reach their customers, make the sale, and craft a seamless, perfectly integrated customer experience, this is called “omni-channel marketing.”

Why go through all this trouble? Well, in truth, we started it. We, the consumers. We wanted faster service, so they created mobile ordering. We wanted guarantees that items will be in stock, so they built online inventories. We wanted to have mobile access to all of our information, so they designed apps and mobile-friendly websites. So we can thank ourselves for this tech-evolution.

Imagine you spot a Facebook ad for 50% off at a new fast-casual restaurant. You click the ad to claim the coupon and find their closest location. On the way there, you download their app, which allows you to peruse their menu. When you walk in, an employee takes your order with a iPad, which you then confirm on a flat-screen TV. And when you pay at the register, the cashier asks, “Would you like to sign up to receive email notifications?” to which you reply, “Of course!” Consider all of the carefully coordinated touchpoints—all of the points of contact between the restaurant (the seller) and you (the buyer).

Airlines have also adopted this trend in order to improve their customers’ travel experience. Have you checked in via an airport kiosk? Downloaded a mobile boarding pass? Received text alerts for delayed flights? These various touchpoints have multiple benefits both for companies as well as consumers.

Companies can:

  • maintain frequent contact with their customers in order to build trust and brand loyalty.
  • track customers’ activity, including what and when we order, which devices we use, how we interact with our digital shopping chart, if and when we use their app, etc.
  • target consumers on multiple devices according to the data and analytics they acquire.

In turn, consumers:

  • are more informed on a more immediate basis.
  • have the ability to shop, browse, reserve, check inventory, and purchase across multiple devices in one cohesive, continuous experience.
  • receive deals, offers and coupons that are more targeted to our unique shopping preferences.

Omni-channel marketing is still fairly new and, therefore, imperfect. Marketers are still looking to improve their metrics, modernize loyalty programs, and standardize customer service across all touchpoints, including social media platforms. So while consumers enjoy faster service and mobile access, retailers will continue to learn as much as they can about you—and turn that personal info into revenue.


Article originally published in Community News.

About Brand Poets

Founded by Tana M. Llinas, Brand Poets is a collective of strategists, visual storytellers, and digital artisans crafting smart, poignant campaigns that command attention.

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