Concepts are generally presented as the silver bullet for a successful future, be it regarding multi- or omni-channel and the famous 360-degree shopping experience. Indeed, the step that retailers must take to position themselves for the future is towards omnichannel commerce and the customer should be offered a comprehensive and continuous customer experience online and offline.
But as with any effective concept, you should always keep the side effects in mind as well, meaning paying particular attention in the case of ‘omnichannel’ to the following:
Don’t think regionally when the medium is global
We all know that the Internet differs from all other mass media in two essential ways, namely being global and interactive. Therefore, it offers the great opportunity to build global brands. However, it is precisely this opportunity that usually remains unused in the case of omni- or multi-channel concepts. Brick-and-mortar shops see the Internet as a kind of "addition" to the existing business model, which reflects in digitizing mainly the own brick-and-mortar business model, including branches, as this is the only way to limit to a geographically restricted market in a global medium. This increases, however, the overall risk that in the future relatively small national multi- or omni-channel business models will encounter relatively large global online-only business models.
Don’t waste valuable time
If you only see the Internet as an extra and act accordingly, you may be wasting valuable time. Just look at Amazon, for instance: where would Jeff Bezos be today with his trading empire if he had thought multi- or omni-channel from the start? Well, most likely in the US only. He was very fortunate that there had not been a flood of multi- and omni-channel experts in the 1990s, since the Internet allows a global expansion speed that was not possible before. But those who see the Internet just as a logical addition to the analog business model will leave this possible expansion speed to any of their digital competitors.
Don’t address primarily your own customers
Ask yourself who you are most likely to address with your website, because the problem is that those in charge of large established brands tend to overestimate the power of their own brand(s) and underestimate the power of new brands. In the future, many, especially large brick-and-mortar retail companies, will probably regret that the Internet has been viewed more defensively as an addition to the own analog business model, instead of taking full advantage of the potential of this new medium.
When considering the three side effects of an omnichannel focused business, you should perhaps rethink your own strategy to make full use of the global potential of the Internet for your own company; and the large retail companies should think in terms of new online business models, on top of new online brands.
By Daniela La Marca