Omnichannel When You Aren’t Omnichannel

How to market about your omnichannel strategy, when you aren’t fully omnichannel

While omnichannel has been a big buzzword in the retail space for the last few years, it is an easier concept than done, especially for companies that simply cannot be omnichannel for various reasons. For example, perhaps your corporate or brand operations function completely or somewhat separately from your retail or franchisees. Or possibly you are only omnichannel in certain markets and not all due to your retail or shipping/fulfillment footprint. Whatever the limitations, it is still important to have an omnichannel strategy in order to anticipate and best serve not only your customer experience but your business goals.

  • If you own your online and in-store presence, with no 3rd party retailers: For direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, your #1 priority is customer experience. Mostly this is because you are unique in that you can 100% control it. So, if you have a “leaky bucket” with customer acquisition or attrition, you need to focus your energy on understanding where that customer loss stems from (first time purchase, repeat purchase, online, in-store, all the above) and address it head-on. Keep in mind, the solution may be audience segment dependent.
  • If you own one of the offerings (online or in-store) and the other is 3rd party: While an omnichannel strategy is about being wherever your customers want you to be, you can still subtly nudge them towards where you want them to be — your direct offerings for better margins.


If you only own your online presence, first, establish a strong brand voice, focusing on what you stand for, and push consumers to try in-store. Then, without alienating your retail partners, offer online exclusives and benefits to cultivate loyalty in your preferred channel.

If you only own the in-store experience, again, starting with a brand awareness focus is key to driving retail. Entice consumers to go direct to retail with in-store only exclusives like gift with purchases, special services, and any other unique attributes such as if each store is family run or a small business. Then, tailor e-commerce specific messaging for audiences not near a retail location or to increase overall frequency of purchase.

  • If you rely solely on 3rd party online and in-store retailers: Even in this case, you are still the keeper of your own brand. Make sure your brand presence across all channels (i.e. website, social, PR, advertising) is strong and can drive not only trial and repeat purchase at retail, but loyalty and word of mouth. While you cannot control the retail experience, it is important to try—cultivate your relationship with the buyers, giving them innovative product solutions and brand support.
  • If your online and in-store presence varies depending on the market or other situations: Clarity of message is key. Perhaps you utilize Tier 1 and Tier 2 messaging where appropriate. For Tier 1 corporate communication, focus on controllable elements like brand attributes including quality and offerings specific to your corporate owned channel (i.e. free nationwide shipping). With Tier 2, communicate what is special to that market experience. Be clear with any limitations or unique circumstances. For example, if you can purchase online but cannot return or pick-up in-store, make that clear to consumers and again highlight the benefits of each channel.

Regardless of your situation, we can help you solve your business challenges. We have over 21 years of experience from strategy and research to in-market and channel executions across all consumer touchpoints. Contact us for a consultation today!

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