Cross Channel and Omnichannel Definitions

Posted: 06/26/2012 Tags: Customer Experience Ecommerce Omni-Channel Retail 

First a few words about the definition and usage of the term Omnichannel. We have been working with retailers for almost two decades on integrated channel strategies. Our belief has always been that the brick and mortar stores would become the integrated point of difference for most retailers.  We helped retailers develop their multichannel strategies when Ecommerce was new. We promoted Cross Channel retailing strategies as customer behavior changed and they began to demand an integrated and easy way to cross between selling channels. Then, Harvard Business Review wrote a game changing white paper titled “The Future of Shopping”, that coined the phrase Omnichannel.

There is no retail dictionary to validate the definition of Cross Channel and Omnichannel. In most cases, we see them used interchangeably.  Our definitions are:

  • Cross Channel Retailing is the operational interaction to drive sales, communications and supply across channels (e.g. store, website, catalog, mobile, social). We envision these integrated operations, (including human capital, content and data) to enhance the customer experience by giving her the freedom to experience the brand on her terms.
  • Omnichannel Retailing is the underlying infrastructure and processes necessary to operate and execute on Cross Channel capabilities.

To say that the future of retail will look different because of the changes Cross Channel / Omnichannel retailing will deliver is a good bet. How each retailer gets to their future will be as different as the definition of the term within the industry.