In Latin, omni means whole, everyone, or everything. This Latin word is becoming increasingly popular in the field of marketing. Omni canalis, or better known as omni-channel in modern German, describes a further development of multi-channel sales – all sales channels are served here in parallel.

Against the background of dynamic and global markets as well as heterogeneous target groups, companies use new strategies and communication technologies to face increasing competition and serve multiple sales channels. Instead of just focusing on the point of sale, companies now have to network all communication channels. Above all, the parallel use of stationary, online, catalog and mail order business often poses a particular challenge, not only in the B2C but also increasingly in the B2B area. A single product catalog is no longer sufficient for customer loyalty, as it was 15 years ago. Thanks to the heterogeneous range of information available, consumers nowadays order and use various channels in parallel, from the Internet to catalogs and online shops to auction platforms or even applications for mobile devices. Therefore, companies must also serve parallel sales channels in a way that is appropriate for the target group. The pure integration of an online shop is no longer enough for brand communication. Rather, it is important to embed e-commerce strategies in a holistic e-business.

Multi-Optional Consumers

Networking multiple communication channels and serving all target groups at the same time is basically not tied to any industry. Whether in the textile business or in industry and trade: companies benefit from omni-channel sales regardless of the sector. In this way, they can open up new target groups and sales markets and thus gain a competitive advantage. After all, multi-optional consumers also demand multiple sales channels. It is therefore necessary to bundle all sales and communication channels or to use them in parallel. Efficient software technologies form the basis for this omni-channel distribution. Companies use these in a closely coordinated manner for both internal and external communication and marketing purposes. Single source of data

In addition to a consistent backend, uniform data and product maintenance in a company-wide enterprise content management and product information management system is an important prerequisite for a successful e-business strategy. With this single source of data approach, all data and product information is entered continuously and centrally, which means that companies can access it media-neutrally from a single source. Background workflows organize and structure the information for immediate output in online catalogs or printed media. Those responsible from marketing and product management maintain and generate the website, shop, catalogues, brochures, price lists or displays at the point of sale via a single platform. The additional integration of corporate translation management also enables localization in different countries. As a result, companies can serve individual markets and target groups multilingually and, for example, sell certain products in Asia, while others are available at the same time specifically for the Latin American continent.

The boundaries between the individual channels are becoming increasingly blurred, as virtually every customer is an omni-channel customer. Many companies now offer linked services. For example, customers order textiles or consumer electronics in the online shop and then collect the ordered goods from the store. In the course of mobile commerce, the integration of mobile end devices such as smartphones and tablets in omni-channel strategies is also gaining in importance. The multi-optional customer is thus “always on” and can be contacted at any time. Of course, this has tremendous potential. And the boundaries to private life are constantly being broken down with social commerce and the use of social networks such as Facebook. It is imperative for those responsible in marketing and product management to develop these trends and potentials. With the "single source of data" approach, employees have direct access to the relevant information and can strategically focus on these new markets.

In principle, product and corporate communication can be individually optimized for companies from a wide variety of industries. A large number of them fall back on the experience of an external service provider. First of all, an analysis of the respective requirements is carried out in order to then subsequently implement well-coordinated software systems and thus enable a target group-specific approach. Uniform and centrally managed product data enable companies to react flexibly to new market conditions and to communicate and sell products immediately. Link stationary and online business

The boundaries between the individual channels are becoming increasingly blurred. The requirements of individual companies also vary accordingly. For future-oriented retailers, for example, it is not only important to set up or relaunch an online shop in order to optimize communication channels, but also to link stationary and online business more closely.

In order to exploit the potential of the internet sales channel in the best possible way, the focus should be on expanding the shop system. Processes such as payment, logistics, web tracking or even search and merchandising functionalities should be integrated precisely in order to be able to use all channels easily and uniformly in the future. In addition to a new e-commerce platform, it is sometimes advisable to implement marketing modules so that employees can configure and implement campaigns immediately. A large part of the database can be transferred from the platform to such a tool in order to call up and process the data there specifically for a wide variety of campaigns. In addition to pure product information, other media such as product photos and commercial videos can also be added to the system. These optimize the use of the shop and enable the retailer's customers to use multimedia to find out about the product range.

Single Source of Stock

Connecting the internal infrastructure directly to the online shop is essential for the omni-channel approach. This includes existing internal systems such as ERP, POS systems, etc. If stocks are low, the goods can then be displayed not only in the warehouses, but also the stock in the branch. All conceivable items can then be researched and purchased from one source via the online channel (single source of stock). The retailer thus takes maximum account of the long-tail benefit. Separate warehouses for online shops would be a thing of the past thanks to the connection between warehouse, branches, online and mobile. Accordingly, such a single-source-of-stock approach can optimally coordinate online and offline items, provide transparency and increase a retailer's efficiency.

If required, the installation of a translation memory system and the optional development of foreign-language markets also make it possible to run multilingual campaigns. Efficient search and navigation functions can also be added to the online shop. Analysis results from a shop monitor module match planned marketing campaigns even more precisely to the appropriate target groups.

With the omni-channel approach, there are a number of factors to consider. Based on the customer situation and the corresponding target groups, an individual consideration and consideration should be made in order to optimize product and corporate communication in a practical way. Because one thing is certain: the interaction of the digital and physical world can already ensure more sales and lower costs today and prepares companies for the path to omni-channel sales.