There are numerous retailers that have adopted a multi-channel approach in recent years. We are now beginning to see this evolving even further with advertisers keen to achieve a completely integrated retail strategy. Multi channel retailing is now moving towards omni-channel – placing the customer at the heart of the strategy with each of the channel touch points working in unison to provide customers with the ability to purchase what they want, when they want it.

Internal competing outdated

Previously there was a significant amount of internal competition when it came to allocating the business unit that had generated the sale. The online team would compete with individual high street stores if an offer that was available online or via mobile was redeemed in store for example. An omni-channel approach is channel neutral and allows advertisers to take an integrated view across a number of touch points. With all channels taking a holistic approach to driving sales, advertisers are able to focus on the customer and provide them with convenience.

Omni-channel initiatives

Advertisers are launching numerous initiatives as they adopt an omni-channel approach. Click and collect, buy online and return in store and offering free wifi in store are all geared towards providing the customer with multiple ways to transact in a way that is most convenient for them. By providing consumers with multiple options of where and how to purchase, advertisers are putting themselves in a better position to be able to convert customers irrespective of the channel purchased through. This customer centric focus sees a customer as a customer – regardless of where/how they decide to purchase.

Mobile’s role in Omni-channel marketing

Mobile commerce has been a key driver of a number of the initiatives that have seen a switch to an omni-channel approach. It has helped to remove the barriers traditionally in place between online and offline, and is an extremely valuable tool for advertisers that have embraced mobile technology.

While numerous advertisers have launched mobile optimised sites, there is so much more to mobile commerce than simply purchasing through an advertisers website. Advertisers can take advantage of location based technology in order to drive potential customers in store and also benefit from mobile usage in store. By providing in-store wifi advertisers are able to enhance the consumer experience when in store. For example, stock levels could be checked through a mobile app or consumers could see reviews of the products they are intending to buy. Rather than fearing the concept of show rooming, advertisers should embrace it. The customer experience can be enhanced greatly by providing in store wifi. It also enables the advertisers to build up a profile of their visitors and by requesting an email address in order to connect to the wifi network, the advertiser can continue to engage with the consumer – sending them offers based on their browsing habits.

Omni-channel in effect across performance marketing

Advertisers have been able to take advantage of opportunities through the performance channel to drive customers in store in addition to transacting online. It is common for the leading incentivised publishers to have a mobile offering which utilises the functionality of location based targeting, sending out push notifications to consumers who are nearby that have shown an interest in receiving offers within certain sectors.

With the premise of an omni-channel approach being to provide consumers with a variety of options to purchase which are most convenient for them, advertisers have successfully run discounts and promotions across multiple channels. For example, one fashion retailer launched discount codes across a wide variety of channels – in print, online and through mobile vouchers and allowed consumers to purchase in the way that suited their preferences – whether this was online or in store. They saw exceptional results across the performance channel which generated 43% of the total transactions. The majority of these were driven in store and 70% of transactions were from new customers.

In order to receive the voucher (whether purchasing online or in store) the customer was required to provide an email address, enabling the advertiser to build up a significant database of prospects to remarket to.

Publisher feedback

As well as advertisers seeing significant results through the performance channel it has not gone unnoticed by publishers either. A leading cashback site has seen advertisers with an integrated strategy across multiple channels perform exceptionally well. They noted that consumers that have embraced an advertiser through multiple channels typically shop over 200% more frequently and spend over 100% more than customers that purchase through a single channel.

While advertisers have been getting to grips with a multi-channel strategy, those with an omni-channel approach have a distinct advantage. Without internal competition for allocating sales to a particular channel, advertisers are able to focus their full attention on their customers. With future technological developments, we can expect to see an omni-channel approach evolve further. Advertisers prepared to fully embrace this and adopt a single customer view are likely to reap the rewards.

Matt Swan

Matt Swan


Matt Swan is a Client Strategist at Affiliate Window.