Just when the omnichannel approach has solidified itself as the regularly used and accepted goal for marketing strategists, an article in Forbes, by Steve Dennis, pops up declaring it passé. The tile declares “Omnichannel is dead. The future is harmonized retail.” He has some interesting points, but it’s also important not to get lost in semantics. The driving factor of showing up in the right ways, for the right customers, is still the heart of both strategies.

One of the key arguments of the article is that the multiple channel focus of omnichannel marketing is an issue, because there should only be one channel, the customer. Under the harmonized retail strategy, focusing on the customer means blending the channels together to build a custom experience that works across digital and physical channels. However, this is also what a successful omnichannel campaign should achieve. If the different channels are designed to create a smooth customer experience as they navigate between them, that inherently is a customer-centric, or customer-channel approach.

The author makes an important point, though, getting lost in the “omni” part of the omnichannel by throwing too much focus on being everywhere at once can sidetrack its own goal. It’s important to understand the core customer, and the customer journey, in order to choose the important touch points of a campaign. Companies can lose sight of blending the right channels for a campaign if they are caught up in throwing equal attention to every physical and digital channel. Understanding the target audience and guiding their path through the optimal channels is essential to a good marketing strategy.

Whether you decide to use the term “omnichannel” or “harmonized retail” the core focus of retail marketing should be the same, understanding the customer journey and creating a smooth, yet engaging experience for customers as they navigate your brand. This harmony can boost both in-store retail and brand engagement by surprising and delighting customers with a custom experience that feels like it was designed just for them.

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