Distribution channel plays a key role in completing the cyclic process of a supply chain system and forming a robust distribution channel decides the ultimate goal or a successful operation of a business. Certain kinds of distribution channel are best suitable for particular types of business operations but majority of the enterprises have to rely on either offline stores or online platforms or both as their mode of products or services distributions. The idea of using both the modes of distribution channels leads to the foundation of omnichannel marketing and this model is widely accepted as a quintessence for the expansion of every sort of business operation.
Looking at the present scenario, it is primarily unimaginable for us to think a business operation without having access to digital platforms may be it for payment methods. It is now almost impossible to develop a business model without the support system of omnichannel to stay ahead in the competition. Otherwise, a company will not last or survive in the long run considering the aggressive penetration of digital platforms and integration of innovative technology across all types of operations.
Now, we need to address two vital questions, which are pertinent to the importance of omnichannel to the expansion of a business operation. Firstly, how is omnichannel marketing helping to form a dominant approach for every business operations? Secondly, why is a robust omnichannel marketing system essential for long-term success of a business operation? The answers of these two questions will be addressed in detail in the following sections.
Omnichannel: Mixing both Offline & Online Platforms
Omnichannel is a type of distribution channel that integrates both physical/offline stores and digital/online platforms, which allows to offer a unified and better customer experience about a particular product or service. The origin of omnichannel system can be traced back to early 2000s when several platforms of e-commerce channels really took off with the establishment of giant retailers such as Amazon.com and Walmart in the US. Development of mobile commerce and the rapid establishment of multichannel retailing in late 1990s paved the very foundation of such integrated system.
The proliferation of e-commerce had significantly impacted the existing global distribution system and opened up watershed opportunities to restructuring operations across industries. This leads to the formation of a complex matrix of multiple channels of businesses that transcends the traditional structure of depending only on brick and mortar stores for distribution services. With a series of innovation and integration of advanced digital technologies over the years, it becomes a popular trend for every enterprise that they either have to switch to an integrated model or e-commerce. Relying simply on physical channel store can never be a sustainable option in the long run. In a pursuit to offer better consumer experience, a business model now requires an integration of such advanced digital facilities such as mobile devices, mobile apps, mobile web, and chatbots. However, this business development model is not yet sufficient for the global market competition as it needs to upgrade more sophisticated technologies to offer a maximum service to consumers.
Offering Personalized Experience of Consumers through E-commerce
E-commerce platform has reached a different level of technology integration and using these advanced technologies help the seller to offer personalized experience of consumers and enhance their shopping experience. Many of these platforms have now engaged in various machine learning devices such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR) that can evaluate or dissect the actual behavior of consumers in terms of their lifestyle and preference for shopping. As a result, it creates a system that can easily respond to satisfy the needs of consumers and make the products of their choice easily available whenever needed. Moreover, online platforms offer several advantages for consumers such as massive price discount, same day delivery service, and easy return policy that help to encourage the adoption of omnichannel strategy among business organizations.
To improve customer engagement and experience constitutes a core philosophy of all industries especially the retail industry. Omnichannel as a parental system of e-commerce is increasingly based on personalization analytic tool to ensure seamless experience of consumers, which represents a critical market strategy for retail business. The COVID-19 pandemic had forced to change consumers’ shopping preference and a large of number of the global population especially among Gen Z consumers started relying on regular shopping using e-commerce retail units. Omnichannel retail strategies offer to be a reliable solution for better personalized shopping experience of consumers as they can visit an in-store and can browse their mobile devices to extract information about the pricing and available of discount offers about particular products. A customer can easily choose the best price. The omnichannel system can integrate the needs and communications to ensure a proper link between customers, brands, and retailers.
Omnichannel is the Heart & Soul of Distribution System
Combining the better options to establish a robust distribution channel can simply provide a unified consumer experience. One key advantage of omnichannel is that it easily simplifies the shopping behavior of consumers as they are given the option to choose the best and the allocation of inventory is properly channelized by maintaining an integrated network of products inventories. Holding specific units of products by each channel can be determined as per the existing demand of consumers in various channels, which are mainly regulated using AI platforms.
Today, more and more business enterprises irrespective of sizes and nature of business engagement are increasingly incorporating omnichannel system to extract more advantages from the combination of various channels. A consumer, under the system, is given the option to buy products from a company’s website or mobile app or in-store but all the consumers will get a uniform experience. Without any doubt, the adoption of omnichannel offers best possible solutions for consumers regarding their search for better shopping options. With the high penetration of the Internet on mobile phones and smart devices of consumers, a business model solely based on brick and mortar stores will need to redesign its channel system and start integrating other channels such as developing digital platforms to expand its consumer base. In the long run, survival of an enterprise needs a robust distribution channel and the implementation of omnichannel will ensure the rapid expansion of a business.