Multichannel (Inside-out) versus Omnichannel (Outside-in) Strategy

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, October 31, 2017 / -- These days, multichannel marketing and omnichannel marketing are often used to describe what many people believe is the same thing – advertising on every platform available through different means.

What this gets wrong however is the subtle but hugely important difference between the two: the perspective.

Multichannel marketing is formed by the company’s brand team, their internal view of the world and what they would like to present it as.

Omnichannel marketing on the other hand is informed by taking actions based on the customer’s view of the world, and the brand.

By flipping the perspective from inside-out to outside-in, businesses are far more capable of understanding how users experience their brand, and how that user experience affects consumer behavior. That understanding in turn informs action, which can prove transformative for business development.

Ultimately, an outside-in perspective enables businesses to be reactive to changes in customers’ needs, wants and interests.

What do consumers want?

In short, a personalized experience. Everyone has been overwhelmed by generic advertising and has developed a strong ability to filter this attention seeking, interrupting methodology. Instead, a customer focused methodology that emphasises personalisation is now coming to prominence.

This transformative process has much to commend it, not least that not being omnichannel costs more in lost customers than making the transition to this new approach, where 89% retention is possible (compared to 33% without). This makes a lot of sense because omnichannel approach better mirrors actual consumer behavior nowadays.

For example, buy online, pick up in store (or BOPUS) is becoming increasingly popular among consumers>. It allows people to browse at their own convenience online, skip any queues or wait times in the store, receive the product quicker and cheaper than having it shipped. This is a classic example of the omnichannel experience.

Personalisation can be achieved in many ways. Some use customer profiles to break down the types of experience most commonly undertaken by their different types of customer, defining these as distinct buyer personas with their own journeys through the online and physical worlds.

By understanding how people use the different channels, as well understanding what values they hold, and what processes they undertake to make decisions, brands can tailor areas of their website, social media, and stores to create different journeys through their touch points that mirror the steps different audiences go through. This creates multiple routes to purchase that each feel like a unique and personalized Customer Experience. Omnichannel allows users to define how they interact with brands, inverting the typical outbound approach. This is why omnichannel will have the biggest impact of any marketing discipline of the 21st century.

By contrast, if businesses don’t do this, and use the outdated multichannel marketing practice of using all touch points to broadside potential customers with pushed promotional messaging, they fail to deliver what customers want. Those customers will simply go elsewhere, where a more holistic experience is being provided.

How Are Brands Addressing Consumer Needs And Behavior?

Dominos Pizza has used a Growth Hacking approach and now offers more than fifteen different ways to order a pizza. This reflects their commitment to individual customer experience, allowing people to order their way. This includes a version of their app that remembers their preferred historical order details, and will automatically place an order ten seconds after the app is opened, creating a no-click ordering experience.

Oasis, a UK fashion retailer, offer a mobile app, e-commerce site and bricks and mortar stores. In store, iPads are on hand for users to interact with, or ask assistants to place orders for them for home delivery based on what they have tried on in store, even if the particular store they are in doesn’t have the item in stock. They also lead the way in returns, with postal and in-store return options augmented by a network of more than 5,500 drop off points.

Uniqlo is focusing on omnichannel development throughout Southeast Asia, with an app that remembers customer’s history and recommends products to match existing items they own, while trying on clothes in store and having them delivered to their homes. They focus on items people need, not fashion. Their aim is to provide “anybody, anywhere, anytime with the ultimate, high-quality day-to-day clothing”.

Warby Parker started out looking to sell glasses and eyewear affordably online, with people buying online, and trying on at home with free returns. They now have 58 stores in the US, and are extensively expanding their bricks and mortar footprint. Omnichannel is bringing online businesses into the real world, as well as vice versa. The stores offer eye exams, next day direct to door service, and plenty to look at through the frames, from books to local artworks.

CASE STUDY: How Starbucks Transition To Omnichannel Marketing

Starbucks has been a global leader in brand for a long time. They have championed multi-channel marketing for years, with consistent messaging across each touchpoint and platform. Now, they are beginning to shift to omnichannel marketing, where each platform is interdependent and complementary.

Their Red Cup Campaign was one of the best examples of multi-channel marketing available. By putting out the same marketing across multiple channels, they maximized exposure and consistency, while creating high engagement for the campaign. These are all must-haves for good brand campaigns, but the company knew they could go further. This approach still focused on the brand first, not the customer. So, what happens when they flip this on its head?

As Starbucks embark on omnichannel marketing, they are looking to build a seamless experience with all data shared across all platform. One crucial element of this is mobile order and pay, allowing people to place their order and pay for it on their phones while picking the finished coffee up in store. The process is so popular and successful, it has caused disruption during peak times, and they have already implemented a three waves strategy to address this shift in process and deliver the goods. Consumers have loved the mobile pay and collect option so much, the way the bricks and mortar store works must be transformed to fulfil this new way of working. Customer-led innovation.

Other features on the app include accumulating rewards to reach levels that provide different perks such as free refills, instant locations of all of the Starbucks retailers nearby, and gift card purchases for friends who have the app. All this on top of being able to order ahead and pick up a drink at a selected location means Starbucks is now with you all the time, and the bricks and mortar locations as no longer the primary touchpoint for consumers.

Prospectors Find The Gold

It’s time to get your hands dirty. Omnichannel strategy is the future, but that means the development of omnichannel is still a frontier, a lot like the wild west. There are many many risks and challenges, like the data needed to run an effective Omnichannel strategy, but it also means there are many opportunities with few rules. As customers become ‘omnishoppers’, businesses that manage to ride the wave will definitely reap a huge reward.

If you want to learn more about this augmented approach to marketing and innovation, the Digital Marketing Innovation Conference (DMICON) is a 2-Day event in Kuala Lumpur, 29-30 November. At DMICON, the emphasis will be on Innovation, Leadership & Strategy, featuring Key Strategic Thinkers representing the region’s biggest brands, influencers, industry disruptors, and business change agents across all industries, from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Shanghai and more. For the latest, please visit: