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Why is Omnichannel Still a Question?

The stats are out there, customers want omnichannel experiences, and expect brands to have the ability to connect disparate data from multiple channels to form a single view of them. Companies have labored over their strategies and tech stacks to meet these new customer demands, and publications like DMN have encouraged these efforts. After all, omnichannel is an extension of the greater marketing mandate to elevate the customer experience above everything else, especially in our increasingly digital world.

Yet, even midway through 2017, and on the cusp of the next phase of the internet, omnichannel remains on the to-do list for many marketers. Omnichannel still seems to be a objective; a goal marketers are actively working toward, rather than a reality that businesses are organically structured around. This leads to my big question as a reporter in this space: Who exactly is still chasing omnichannel?

Those older, legacy companies that are still talking about digital transformation? Perhaps it’s the large companies that were too entrenched and too sluggish to adapt to the customer-centric digital world? Maybe it’s the brick-and-mortar retailers that are struggling to find their place in their empowered customers’ lives? The apparent truth is that it’s everyone.

“For years, marketers have been trying to successfully implement omnichannel strategies. But it’s one of those impossible puzzles to crack. Marketers can only continue to improve their understanding of their customer touchpoints,” Jay Stocki, Experian’s SVP of data and product strategy for its Targeting division, said in an email interview.

The reality is that omnichannel appears to be one of those topics that shouldn’t be a topic anymore considering how far digital has advanced, but it’s that constant pace of evolution that seems to be holding marketers back from truly standardizing omnichannel.

There are two main causes of this, according to Jamie Anderson, SVP and CMO at SAP Hybris. One is the stratification of data across multiple platforms. “[It’s] difficult for organizations to create a full picture of the consumer. Without a robust profile for each target consumer, brands are not able to form meaningful relationships and establish a loyal customer-base, Anderson says.

“The second reason is because the consumer’s ability to adopt and adapt new channels of interaction is moving faster than enterprise technologies can keep pace with. The number of channels for consumers to interact with brands on is consistently expanding. With the consumer always one step ahead, brands must continue to invest in omnichannel marketing strategies to effectively reach the customer.”

It seems, the primary roadblock to omnichannel success is, well, all of the channels consumers play in today.  It’s unfortunate that the industry is still struggling with omnichannel marketing. But at least marketers know what’s at stake now, even if widespread omnichannel adoption seems further out of reach than any of us would like.

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