In the world of retailing, a channel refers to every possible way in which the brand can engage existing and potential customers who are interested in either learning more about the product through research or wish to buy the product offered by the brand.
Television advertising is a channel. So is the combination of catalog and mail delivery. Offering products through a brick and mortar store is the oldest channel while purchase of products online has become popular after the digital media revolution.
What is Multichannel Retailing?
Multi channel retailing focuses on engaging with customers and enabling them to purchase the brand’s products through different channels without any significant difference in the buyer’s experience. Today, customers have the option of doing research online before finalizing the purchase as the nearest store. Or, they may visit the store to see and touch the product before placing an online order.
Demonstrations in kiosks and stalls setup in trade shows may help the customer understand the product’s potential. He or she may proceed to place the order through the catalog channel for delivery through mail. In this form of retailing, brands and sellers focus on marketing and selling strategies that encompass all available channels.
This is also a type of marketing strategy where the customers are given choices on the ways to buy products. The common goal in this type of strategy is to increase the revenue and loyalty by providing the customers with convenience and choice.
Impact of Multi Channel Retail
In the past, consumers relied on specific channels to research and purchase the product. Brands competed for the customer’s attention by advertising in newspapers, radio, television, business publications, and other channels to ensure high brand recall. The purchase channels were restricted to purchase from the store or mail orders along with the option of tele-buying.
Today, customers can learn more about the pros and cons of different products through social media. Online buying can be done through smartphones and tablets even when the customer is on the move. The desire to touch and feel the product before buying has been replaced by the desire to buy a product that is highly recommended by peers.
Premium Pricing Power
Brands like Apple that openly emphasize on charging premium prices for quality products have benefited by the availability of multiple channels for marketing and advertising about their products. A unified strategy that provides a seamless experience over a wide range of channels helps the brand focus on its core target audience and convey its message in the most effective manner possible.
More Data Availability
In the past, sellers struggled to keep track of the performance of different channels. Even if they collected the data, they found it difficult to analyze the information to identify trends and patterns. The combination of targeted marketing, widespread use of digital solutions, and improvements in technologies has enabled firms and brands to collect and analyze big data without any hassles.
Tracking the customer’s experience over different channels can help the seller fine tune the strategy to increase sales, enhance customer perception, and boost brand authority.
High-speed internet connectivity combined with access to mobile devices has allowed employees to cater to customers utilizing different channels at the same time. A store assistant can answer online queries, sort orders, and track mail delivery schedules without any productivity issues.
As the distinctions between channels get blurred, brands get better opportunities to boost business and customers get more avenues to find and purchase the best product at the most affordable price.
Read more about multichannel retailing here.