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“Omni” – from the Latin “Omnis”, or “All”
 
Much to my daughter’s chagrin, I’ve always been a student of language. Between somewhat obnoxiously pointing out the more egregious errors in her millennial short-hand, I often find time to marvel at a phenomenon unique to the digital boom of the last twenty years - that technology often moves faster than our collective ability to describe it.
 
The meaning of a word can often become out-of-date before it’s even become fully absorbed into our everyday lexicon. When we use the term “cell phone” for example, it means something vastly different now than it did even ten years ago. Formerly a mobile device on which to place calls, a cell phone is now a virtual super computer in your pocket. You would never, for example, walk into a store in this day and age, ask to see a new cell phone, and expect the clerk to hand you a device which does something as pedestrian as simply calling people.
 
As a marketer working in the customer retention space, the phrase “omnichannel” holds the same sort of ambiguity for me. Had you asked me even five years ago what having an “omnichannel loyalty marketing strategy” meant, I might have answered “the ability to message loyalty program members simultaneously over different channels”.
 
Today, it’s something entirely different. More dynamic and infinitely more integrated into the quickly evolving consumer experience landscape. That landscape used to be defined by our ability to reach out to customers via direct or electronic mail with various offers and promotions. It grew to encompass loyalty optimized websites, applications, order processing, etc. Today, customers are engaging with and shopping our brands over a veritable litany of platforms, channels and devices and they are quickly growing accustomed to They not only expect to engage you in these places, they expect each to work together, seamlessly.
 

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*53% of customers said that they use one loyalty program over another because of ease of use. ~   _________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Customers Want to Know:
  • That they can join and access your program in the method or manner which is most comfortable to them, not you. That means your program can extend to all the places they spend time.
  • That the data that’s used to define them, from their personal shopping history to their delivery preferences, be instantly communicated across all channels, effortlessly.
  • That their benefits are awarded in real-time and that they can access and use them as soon as they are accrued.
  • That they be able to receive products and services from your brand in a place that is most convenient for them, even if those places are different from the point of purchase.
 
With this information in hand, we need to take a second look what it means for a loyalty program to be “omnichannel” in the context of how customers now engage our brands – online, in-store, and on the go. Do our solutions fold themselves, almost imperceptibly, into the client’s intended buying experiences in a way that is natural, fluid, and deeply integrated? Does my loyalty program interrupt the buying experience or work seamlessly within it? Does it conform to each customer’s unique and varied lifestyles or demand that they go outside their daily routine, in order to use it.
 
And how do we measure our success? While there are many technologies out there that claim to be “omnichannel” what are they, in fact, delivering? Would it be a stretch in this new ecosystem to say that loyalty programs must be “seen and not heard”? That is, shouldn’t they only expose themselves in as much as they are informing the customer that they have something to gain or have already gained something in exchange for returning to your business?
 
As quickly as the shopping experience is evolving, what will it mean to truly call ourselves “omnichannel” over the next decade? If the latest schools of thought are any indicator, it means that loyalty programs will become even more embedded in the customer experience.
 
Imagine, for instance that every customer is recognized automatically, as they enter your store or site.  Shelf pricing may adjust dynamically depending on who the customer is and their history with your brand. Artificial intelligence may drive the customer’s path-to-purchase by automatically segmenting like-minded customers and distributing targeted offers, down to the individual shopper. Finally, truly intelligent BI might suggest strategies to optimize your program, in real-time, giving you the ability to grow customer lifetime value in a way never before possible.
 
Wherever the market goes, you can be sure to find the bLoyal team looking to better define it and lead the way in omnichannel loyalty marketing.
 
* https://blog.accessdevelopment.com/customer-loyalty-statistics-2017-edition

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