Seamless Omni-Channel Starts with a Holistic View

Marketing Matters is a monthly column covering how marketers today can use Digital to drive innovation and results

When you strip away the complexity of the outer shell, omni-channel marketing is essentially thinking holistically about the customer: their experiences, your interactions with them and the messaging you want to transmit to them. In our new mobile-centric world, there are an unlimited number of ways to do this.

As marketers, we are always searching for windows into the world of the customer – ways to connect with them and collect useful, contextually-relevant data. Today’s mobile technology is like a giant pane of glass, which lifts the curtain on the customer, enabling us to see their inner workings like never before and connect with them on entirely new levels.

This is a recent phenomenon though; in the past, mobile marketing was rudimentary and derivative – in general, websites were designed for desktops only and mobile sites were scaled-down or simplified versions of these. Designed to be simple extensions of the full ‘big screen’ sites, mobile websites were often more of an afterthought than something marketers devoted a lot of time to.

Giving mobile campaigns top priority 

Today the situation is very different. Beginning in around 2013, forward-thinking marketers began taking a ‘mobile first’ attitude. With the incredible power and in-built functionality of today’s smartphones, businesses can interact with their customers in a myriad of different ways – through different touch points and new interfaces created between online and offline content thanks to augmented reality apps and the powerful cameras and processors of the next generation smartphones.

An illustration of just how far things have come is IKEA’s market-leading catalogue app, which harnesses the power of smartphones and uses augmented reality features to allow potential buyers to preview what IKEA furniture looks like in their actual homes. The experience begins when the app asks users to gather rich media content like videos and 360 degree views of a room on their phone cameras. Users then ‘drop’ selected furniture items on top of the images, previewing what they would look like in the room. Another nifty O2O feature of the app – the ‘virtual shopping list’ – is designed to be used both before and during shopping trips to physical stores. Searching for a product in the app or adding it to a shopping list will show its location within the store. A barcode scanning feature then allows customers to scan a price tag in-store and pull up additional information about the product or add it to a wish list.

But the true strength of IKEA’s omni-channel strategy extends above and beyond their mobile strategy and this excellent app. Indeed, it is their holistic view and understanding of their customer base which allows the app to succeed. They have a strong social media strategy, offering followers across numerous channels useful and appropriate household tips and tricks. Their Instagram account showcases before and after shots of home improvement projects, and their iconic physical stores underpin everything with their vibrant, magnetic presence.

Bringing it all together

IKEA gets it. Most of us have now realised that mobile marketing – indeed all online marketing – requires constant care and attention. Unlike a brand’s bricks and mortar shops, which have an enduring material presence, online campaigns don’t really ‘exist’ in the physical world, so you need to consistently work at them, refine them and retool them to make sure they’re doing what you want them to do.

Maybe this is one reason why Zalora, the Asia-based online fashion platform, chose to open a pop-up store in Hong Kong earlier this year. This store provided a seamless omni-channel customer experience in an unusual way: by acting as an offline ‘fitting room’ for the brand. The space looked just like a regular clothing store – customers could see, feel and try on the clothes – but when it came to making a purchase, they needed to go online, either by scanning a QR code and downloading the Zalora app or by placing an order online via an in-store computer. This temporary ‘clicks and mortar’ store helped boost brand awareness, generate new customers, increase sales and underline the reliability of the brand.

By understanding the customer journey and integrating social media channels, physical stores and online capabilities, your brand can also create synergy and provides a seamless, consistent and relevant brand experience – the essence of omni-channel.


Article by:

Daniel Wu, General Manager, Epicentro

PICO LogoEpicentro specialises in digital content development and is a member of the Pico Group

Awarded ‘Events Standard of Excellence’ and ‘Marketing Standard of Excellence’ in 2015 WebAward for Outstanding Achievement in Web Development by the Web Marketing Association

Daniel has been with Pico for over 15 years and is a seasoned event marketing industry professional. Foreseeing the ample opportunities presented by the world’s rapidly-changing technological landscape, Daniel began planning for a new business unit specialising in digital content solutions in 2010. Commencing full operations in 2014, Epicentro has spearheaded the development of unconventional technologies, helping our clients reach and stay on top of the market. Under Daniel’s leadership, Epicentro has established a strong client list spanning the commercial and government sectors: AIA, Airport Authority Hong Kong, Amway, Dragages, the government’s Environmental Protection Department and Home Affairs Department, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Jardine, Suntory and Watsons.

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