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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The meaning of a word can often become out-of-date before it’s even become fully absorbed into our everyday lexicon.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.