Advancements in digital technology are causing a seismic shift in consumer purchase behavior. Customers today access multiple channels to execute a purchase, leading to the requirement that all channels work seamlessly to support the brand and the experience. This trend started with the Internet, but is now being advanced in a very dramatic and rapid fashion due to mobile and other digital technologies. Consumers, empowered with these digital communication devices, are pressuring organizations to deliver compelling and innovative experiences to retain top of mind and share of wallet.
As distinctions between purchase channels blur, companies must build a singular view of – and communication strategy with – their customers. This strategy may include touchpoints such as call centers, direct mail and catalogs, the Internet, mobile, physical selling locations, and social media.
With these challenges and opportunities in mind, Platt Retail Institute, in cooperation with the American Marketing Association and the support of hybris software, decided to undertake research regarding multi-channel and omnichannel marketing (OCM).
Research found that the majority of firms currently utilize multiple marketing channels to reach customers. The most important of these are the company website, direct sales, e-mail marketing and social media. In the future, emerging digital channels such as social media, mobile and e-mail marketing will become much more important to marketers. When comparing a channel's current importance to its budget allocation, there is, for example, an underinvestment in e-mail marketing. Based upon a channel's future importance, there is an underinvestment in mobile.
Overall, we found that 43% of respondents are either currently evaluating an OCM strategy or plan to implement an OCM strategy within the next three years. These findings vary greatly by company size and the industry in which they operate. For example, 63% of firms with revenue of more than $500 million and 58% with more than $150 million in e-commerce revenue are either currently evaluating an OCM strategy or plan to implement an OCM strategy within the next three years. A consideration of the industry also yielded various results. For example, 67% of retailers are either currently evaluating an OCM strategy or plan to implement an OCM strategy within the next three years. Eighty-three percent of retailers with annual revenue of more than $500 million are either evaluating or adopting OCM; and all health care firms and banking and financial services firms with annual e-commerce revenue of more than $150 are either evaluating or adopting OCM.
In summary, we found that emerging digital marketing channels, such as social media, e-mail marketing and mobile are becoming more important to marketers. Ten percent of firms plan to implement OCM next year, with an additional 33% currently evaluating or planning to implement in the next two to three years. The finding that 43% of firms are in some way implementing or evaluating an OCM strategy indicates that marketers recognize the importance OCM may have on their business. Firm size and the industry in which they operate clearly influence this decision.
Steven Keith Platt is director and research fellow for Platt Retail Institute (PRI). PRI’s Research Report, Corporate Attitudes and Adoption Trends of Multi-Channel and Omni-Channel Marketing, is available for free download at: PRI Research Article. See the entire PRI Resource Library at www.plattretailinstitute.org/library.