This “Outside Consultant” column by Craig Herkert, an executive fellow at Opus College of Business, ran in the Star Tribune on July 26, 2021.
Omnichannel is the seamless integration of the physical and digital worlds. Once you understand omnichannel, you will see it everywhere. When omnichannel is done well, we don’t even notice it.
We check our bank account balance online. We deposit our checks with our phones. We visit the bank branch to discuss a potential home mortgage with a banker. That’s omnichannel.
We order food to be delivered from our grocery store or to be picked up at the store without leaving the car. We go in the store to buy fresh foods. That’s omnichannel.
We go to the doctor for our annual physical. We follow up with her virtually via Zoom. We pay the bill online. That’s omnichannel.
We watch “The Mandalorian” on Disney+ (well, at least I did!). We go to Disney World to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. When we see the Disney logo, whether at a Disney theme park, in a theater, on a cruise ship, or on your tablet, we expect a particular experience. That’s omnichannel.
I have taught International Marketing at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business for several years. Our graduate students increasingly want to have more flexibility in how courses are delivered to them. Last year I taught this course completely online for the first time. We want our students to still get the same St. Thomas experience (high touch, personal) regardless of how the course is delivered: in person, blended or online. That is omnichannel!
Executing a successful omnichannel strategy is very difficult for companies. Companies need to place omnichannel at the highest levels of strategic planning. They must organize in order to integrate humans, data, technology, and physical assets in an efficient and meaningful way.
We expect our experiences with our favorite stores to be the same whether they are digital (online) or physical.
I was in Nashville recently and got to see one of my favorite country singers, Joshua Hedley. I discovered his music via Radio Heartland, listened to it endlessly on Spotify, saw him in person at Robert’s Western World, and tipped him via Venmo (he had a QR code in front of the stage). Yes … This too is omnichannel. Once you understand omnichannel, you will see examples of it everywhere.
Craig Herkert is an executive fellow at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.