Due to the increasing popularity of ecommerce, more and more retailers choose to open a webshop next to their physical store. At the same time, there is also an increase of etailers opening a physical store. Today, physical stores and webshop are no longer seen as two separate channels. Online and offline intersect and a consistent shopping experience is important.
Nowadays there is an increased use of the omni-channel strategy. In this strategy, an organization provides many channels that are aligned with one another. In an omni-channel strategy the focus points are not so much the different channels, but it is rather the brand experience. For consumers, there is no difference in experience between the different channels. The consumer is the focal point and he can determine himself which channel is best for what he wants.
Consumers spend an increasing proportion of their time online. Partly due to the advent of the smartphone it is made easier for consumers to do research on a product before actually buying it. The smartphone can be seen as a bridge between online and offline. Research shows that 4 out of 5 people use a smartphone while shopping. In an omni-channel strategy, it is important that the organization knows everything about the customer and that the consumer experience is the focal point. Consumers do not think in different channels, but see one company assuming that the experience is the same on every channel. By making the consumer journey personal, simple and accessible, the organization provides an optimal shopping experience. The consumer rather chooses an organization where an omni-channel strategy is applied, than an organization that still uses a multi-channel or cross-channel strategy.
Link between online and offline
At the physical store, the consumer is especially concerned with the shopping experience. Here, consumers often do not find the full range of products, but they visit the store for personal and expert advice. Also, the consumer can fit, touch and smell the products here; something that is not possible in a webshop. Additionally, the physical store can create trust with the consumer. One of the objections to online shopping is the fear of not being able to go a physical location if the product is not as desired. A physical store can take away this fear.
On the other hand, online shopping is seen as efficient. At your own pace and undisturbed, the products can be viewed. The consumer does not have to leave the house and price comparison can be easily applied.
The link between online and offline is essential to achieving optimal experience and efficiency. An organization that has implemented a successful omni-channel strategy is Coolblue. This company has a seamless connection between online and offline. For Coolblue the physical store is an extension of the website and a means to better speak to the consumer. In the physical store purchases can also be made online. Another element in the omni-channel strategy that greatly applies to Coolblue, is a personal approach. The customer service of Coolblue is so far developed that it even communicates with consumers via Whatsapp at any time.
 iQmetrixCorp (2012), Creating a great customer experience: any place, any time.
 Frankwatching (2013), Waarom omnichannel de toekomst is: 6 inspirerende innovaties.
 Klantgericht ondernemen (2017), Omnichannel maakt het verschil in retail.