Cristina Tuberosa

Head of Oakley BBM

Mauro Casellini

Patrick Stahl

In today’s highly competitive business landscape, implementing effective omnichannel strategies has become crucial for companies aiming to thrive and succeed.
An omnichannel approach involves integrating various channels and touchpoints to provide customers with a consistent and personalized experience throughout their journey.

Do digital tools help optimize business growth and expansion into new markets?
How important are they in an omnichannel strategy for a company?

Not only do they help, but they are essential, especially from an omnichannel perspective.

In fact, omnichannel is no longer a strategic choice, but a necessity for all types of companies, in any industry. Today, any company that claims to put the consumer at the center of its strategy first needs to understand the customer journey of its consumers (existing and target) and identify all possible touch points, both physical and digital. Not integrating digital tools into a business strategy is like planning a mountain trip and consciously deciding to leave the crampons and rope at home, even though the route includes them. It is self-sabotage.

Digital tools are crucial not only for new companies about to enter the market but also for established companies to structure future strategies properly, define potential and industry dynamics, and understand the consumer and competition. The risk is getting stuck in the present that is already tomorrow (i.e., Blockbuster). 

In addition, if the target audience is the younger consumer – Gen Z and Gen Alpha- digital tools are essential because, for these potential consumers, they are not one of the touch-points but probably the first and primary contact with the company, if not the only one. 

Finally, digital tools are essential in business expansion planning, especially in new markets where the company is not known. They are the most direct and ferrying tool, although only sometimes the cheapest. In some markets, such as Asia, they have become the primary communication mix tool and the main business tool, with a whole range of new dynamics peculiar to each market. 

For this reason, when companies approach digital tools, perhaps for the first time, it is essential for them to do it  with the support and advice of professionals. Because the more these tools are facilitators, the faster they can turn into a boomerang, both at the level of branding and strategic business decisions.

The Covid situation and the resulting rush to digital have certainly positively impacted the race towards omnichannel. What has been your experience?

The situation that companies faced during Covid, in most cases, influenced and sped up digitization processes for a more fluid customer journey, which was already in place for most omnichannel companies.
The lockdown experience influenced the redefinition of the traditional role of digital: from optional and tactical to fundamental and strategic, especially for those markets where the lockdown was total and prolonged. In these situations, where retail has suffered a generalized lockdown, digital has remained the sole source of contact and interaction and the marketing of commodities, but not only. Thus going on to create new purchasing processes even for goods that pre-Covid had not been involved (or only partially) or had affected only a portion of consumers. Thus, we all experienced the need to understand better how digital works and its opportunities. A kind of forced digital ‘revolution,’ in which digital has overwhelmingly entered the homes and lives of everyone, regardless of age group, profession, or education, as well as businesses. Customer journey is now a commonly used term in all companies, at all levels, and not only in Omni-channel-related departments. The importance of integrating all the touch points of the Customer Journey in most companies is undoubtedly the result of a race towards a more truthful and less ‘front’ omnichannel. Cross-channel interchange processes during the purchase process – pre, during, and post – are now integrated with most companies. Buying online and returning or exchanging one’s purchase at a brand outlet is now standard, but it was less prevalent pre-Covid. This integration of systems and processes across usually independent channels is a significant value-add in the shopping experience of a more conscious and discerning consumer, but also an important takeaway and an equally important investment by companies that have embraced this change.

What are the main limitations today in terms of omnichannel, in your experience?

This is a crucial point. The rush to omnichannel and the desire to create fluid experiences for the consumer has often clashed with channels structured to work independently, following different processes and timelines – online vs. offline. A realisation that they speak two distinct and mutually unintelligible languages within the same companies. This has led many companies to overhaul their internal and external processes related to product flows to and from channels, create new dedicated infrastructure at multiple levels – from the warehouse to the point of sale, and redefinition of roles and responsibilities. Marketing side: aligning calendars, communications, and promotions between owned channels. And also another significant issue: the redefinition of the customer journey of a consumer who no longer buys only in the physical store or on the website but ranges between the two channels in search of information, offers, or the best compromise.

These are just a few points that may have limited the rush to omnichannel. But certainly, a situation like the one generated by Covid has been brought to light prominently, prompting those companies that still needed to do so to assess their level of omnichannel and try to structure themselves accordingly.

19 July 2023