Introduction: Data on the Importance of Omnichannel for Businesses in Italy
According to data collected and analyzed by the B2C eCommerce Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano, the adoption of omnichannel strategies in Italy is steadily increasing. Over 70% of large and medium-sized companies consider omnichannelity a fundamental strategic lever, with the primary goal of increasing sales and building customer loyalty.
The formula of retail exclusively physical or only online is giving way to hybrid models where the digital and physical in-store experiences integrate within the customer journey. Digital kiosks in stores, allowing the online purchase of products not available on shelves, or pop-up stores within traditional retail spaces and flagship stores of digital-only companies, are becoming more common.
In Italy, in 2023, B2C e-commerce is valued at a total of 54 billion euros, confirming a 13% increase compared to the previous year and the Italian consumers’ trend to increase their online purchases. However, the offline experience remains important, especially when integrated with the online experience.
As highlighted in the Global Marketing Trends 2022 by Deloitte, the recent pandemic has left behind a legacy of consumers increasingly appreciating hybrid solutions. Consumers now expect a personalized and seamless experience across multiple channels that need to be interconnected.
User Omnichannel Experience: Definition and Relationship with CX
When referring to omnichannel user experience, we are talking about the flow of interactions between the user and the brand, which occur through various touchpoints and multiple communication channels managed in a synergistic way. The goal is to generate a seamless, consistent, and uninterrupted user experience: the customer can transition from one touchpoint to another, continuing their experience without interruptions or inconsistencies in a digital product or service.
Through Omnichannel Experience design, the most appropriate user experience is designed for each channel based on the customer journey, considering transitions and experiences when moving through channels.
For example, a user might start their purchase on the brand’s desktop site, switch to the mobile application to make the purchase, then go to a physical store to pick up the product and return to the app to review it. In an omnichannel UX, this experience becomes uniform and smooth; all transitions between different touchpoints are designed, and the user continues their journey without friction.
In a broader perspective of customer experience, considering the customer’s journey throughout the entire purchasing process (advertising, pre-sale, payment, and post-sale), the focus shifts to the brand-customer relationship over time. The aim is to meet the customer’s needs or exceed expectations, ensuring trust and loyalty.
From this perspective, the implementation and optimization of an omnichannel UX contribute positively to the overall customer experience. The customer can have a positive interaction with the brand at all touchpoints, reinforcing satisfaction and, consequently, increasing brand loyalty and reputation.
Omnichannel vs Multichannel Experience: Designing not on, but between Different Channels
When a company activates multiple communication channels and touchpoints for its customers, it can choose to manage them through either an omnichannel or multichannel approach. Choosing one over the other has a significant impact on the overall experience that customers will have.
In a multichannel experience, a company provides potential customers with multiple communication or sales channels. Often, these channels operate independently of each other; customer data and information are likely not shared between touchpoints, leading to disruptions and friction in the CX.
On the other hand, omnichannel experience integrates all communication channels and touchpoints into a single synergistic system. This allows customers to move seamlessly between channels that share real-time data and information. The goal is to create a consistent and cohesive experience across all touchpoints.
With the increased use of mobile devices and social media, omnichannel experience has become a priority for many companies. Customers expect to interact with a brand through various channels without interruptions, continuing their experience even if they switch from one channel to another, immediate access to information and solutions, and greater personalization.
In multichannel, there is either no data integration or data sharing is very limited (in this case, it is referred to as cross-channel), forcing users to repeat steps and have fragmented experiences. In omnichannel, an advanced technological infrastructure ensures that customer data is accessible and consistent across all channels. Additionally, real-time data analysis enables the provision of a more personalized and contextualized service based on the user’s position in the customer journey.
Why Adopt an OCX Strategy
The adoption of an Omnichannel Customer Experience strategy can bring many benefits to businesses that choose to embark on this path.
- Increased Sales and Customer Loyalty – Providing a seamless and personalized experience across all touchpoints increases the chances of conversion. Additionally, a customer who has had a positive experience is likely to return and recommend the brand to friends and acquaintances.
- Greater Efficiency of Internal Processes and Cost Optimization – Data integration across channels improves organizational efficiency by avoiding duplications of activities, resulting in time and operational cost savings. It also provides valuable insights that make decision-making processes more informed.
- Enhancement of Brand Reputation – Positive word-of-mouth, stemming from a satisfying omnichannel experience, and online reviews create a halo effect that consolidates the brand image on a large scale.
- Better Understanding of the Customer Journey – In an omnichannel perspective, a customer journey map is reconstructed, detailing all interactions and connections in the customer’s path. This provides insights to improve interactions at touchpoints and helps understand how the user moves through channels.
- Reinforcement of Branding Consistency – When a company adopts an omnichannel approach, the customer experience remains consistent regardless of the transition between different channels. This consistency helps build trusting relationships with the company, while the brand’s identity and values are reinforced in the eyes of the customer.
Omnichannelity requires significant investments in terms of technological integration, training, and organizational change. However, these should be viewed with a long-term perspective, where the ultimate result will be a continuous and valuable relationship with the customer base.
How to Manage a Winning Omnichannel Strategy
Implementing a successful omnichannel strategy requires a structured and integrated approach that leads to a gradual but profound transformation of the organization. Let’s explore some fundamental elements that should always be present.
- Mapping the Experience with Journey Maps
It is essential to thoroughly analyze relevant touchpoints by creating customer journey maps that visualize the ideal path. This mapping helps identify areas for improvement and define an omnichannel model based on actual customer needs.
- Data-Driven Approach
The omnichannel strategy must be based on real data collected from all touchpoints, such as physical stores, websites, mobile apps, or direct marketing. Data analysis and reprocessing allow for pinpointing critical points and generating new insights into the customer journey.
- Integration of Data and Systems
Integrating IT systems and sharing data across various digital channels is crucial. An integrated system connecting CRM, e-commerce, mobile apps, loyalty systems, and marketing automation is indispensable for a comprehensive view of the customer base, as well as for managing and using data in real-time.
- Internal Training
Investing in the training of customer service, marketing, and sales staff is necessary. They need to internalize the omnichannel philosophy and acquire the skills to operate effectively in such a model. Elements such as managing multichannel aspects and utilizing data are crucial.
- Measuring Omnichannel Performance
Specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are used to measure omnichannel customer experience, with a focus on continuous improvement and optimization. For instance, the Customer Effort Score (CES) reveals how challenging it was for the customer to interact with the company, while the Customer Satisfaction Index measures the customer’s satisfaction level with the experience.
Omnichannelity is increasingly a necessity for businesses to remain competitive in the current landscape. Customers have high expectations regarding their customer experience, demanding high levels of personalization, real-time responsiveness, and seamless integration across different channels.
Through the design of an omnichannel customer experience, it is possible to ensure the most appropriate user experience for each channel based on the individual’s position in the customer journey, taking care of transitions and experiences when moving from one channel to another.
The benefits of implementing an OCX strategy include increased sales, internal efficiency, customer loyalty, the establishment of a trusting relationship between the company and the customer, and the enhancement of the brand’s reputation.
To summarize, for success, omnichannel must be pursued through a clear strategic vision, targeted investments in technology, people, and processes, continuous measurement of performance, the application of a data-driven approach, and significant attention to the quality of the customer experience at every point in their journey.
If you are seeking a partner to design or enhance your customers’ experience within an omnichannel marketing strategy, Conflux is the ideal CX Agency to support you. Our researchers and designers specialize in CX and cross-industry UX.
Our experts will assist you in effectively managing your business and creating the product that best suits you and your customers. Contact us to share your project and receive our consultation.