Ever craved takeout from a restaurant you’ve heard good things about, only to find out they don’t have a menu online? Now you have to drag yourself out of your comfortable couch, sit down at a table, interact with waiters and wait for the food. Like that’s ever gonna happen on your lazy Sunday. Much more likely is it that you’ll opt for a takeaway platform and grab the first Indian that delivers within an hour.
The idea of Omnichannel is to make it as easy as possible for your customer to reach out to you where and when it suits them – at any time, at any device, and from anywhere. Not to forget that the experience your business provides to your potential customers is smooth and coherent no matter the channel, platform or device.
The customer should be able to visit your website and check the prices from their smartphone. Later on when entering your website from their tablet, the experience should be the same. It’s all about making it a consistent journey.
Restaurants communicating through one or two channels (usually physically and via the phone) are becoming rare species. The old school way of using a phone has for a long time been the primary communication channel of the hospitality industry, but when everybody is constantly connected, there is a demand for multi-channel communication. We all as consumers want what’s easiest for us – whether it is to order from our phone or laptop, we will not order from the places that are not where we expect them to be.
But being present on all devices is not just all what the omnichannel concept entails. Starbucks for instance is a interaction-leader of the hospitality industry – they interact with customers on different levels. An example of one of their channels is their Starbucks reward app, an app where you get a free reward card that you can use whenever you indulge in pumpkin spice latte or munch a double chocolate brownie.
The customers can check the balance on their cards on the phone, website, in-store or on the app. Additionally any change of balance on the card will be updated immediately on every channel. So instead of having a physical card, which is much more likely to get lost or forgotten at home, the customers have a digital card on their phone or any other device, so the card is always accessible. Accessibility is really the keyword here – making your products or services accessible to people is especially essential in an industry such as hospitality, where the difference between products are often smaller than in other industries.
The American chain restaurant Chipotle is another great example on how a successful creating an omnichannel experience can be. A common, yet very frustrating problem amongst online ordering systems and takeaways in general is that sometimes, restaurants don’t receive the customers order.
Chipotle on the other hand has managed to create a very effective online ordering system, which allows you to place an order from wherever you are. Simply sign up for an account on their app, and you can start ordering. The app allows you to save your favorite meals, so you don’t have to spend time on finding the same order again next time your stomach yells for Chipotle.
Omnichannel is a way to offer better service for the customers when, where and how they want it. Constant connectivity has created impatient consumers that expect to have access to whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want.
Omnichannel provides a chance for the business to create more value for the customer, and especially in high-competition industries providing additional value can be what creates your success.
All companies can make a product that looks like the competitors’. Standing out is difficult – but using the omnichannel approach is one way to make sure you’re seen amongst the masses.
As a final example to really understand how omnichannel works in the hospitality business, we have Domino’s Pizza, that is a well-known chain restaurant, and has a lot of competitors, but within the Omnichannel experience they are the strongest amongst their rivals. At Domino’s Pizza the customer has 5 different options when ordering a pizza.
Orders can be done from a tablet, or a smartphone. The customer can order a pizza online from their computer, or call Domino’s Pizza and order something. And lastly the customer can pay the store a visit and place an order physically.
Paul Francis, head of ecommerce at Domino’s, says, ”Omnichannel is about delivering the same customer experience via any channel the customer chooses. The ordered pizza needs to taste, look and smell the same whether it was ordered online, through an app or in-store. ”
For an omnichannel experience to be good it has to be strategic. It’s not enough just to implement several interaction channels between your customers and your business. It has to be of value meaning that it would make things easier for your customers. Lets say you own a barbershop and the majority of your customers are 60+, which are not good with technology. Then it’s not much of value for them to have the option of online bookings, when it’s much easier for them to just call in and schedule an appointment. Or perhaps you own a restaurant in an area where people don’t prefer delivery, and then the delivery should not be an important factor in your omnichannel strategy.
Whether you own a coffee shop, restaurant, hair salon etc. it is essential to segment your audience, and get to know your customers better. How do they find the experience starting from purchase to use of the product? How do the customers interact online and in-store? Data of customer buying behavior is the key ingredient of forming the Omnichannel structure of your business.