“The Word Omnichannel Will Go Away”

Marc Rosen, the executive vice president and president of global e-commerce for Levi Strauss & Co., recently told an audience of retailers at the WWD Digital Forum in September, “The word ‘omnichannel’ will go away. Consumers don’t know and don’t care about these concepts.”

Michael Jones discusses for Forbes how he feels Rosen’s approach couldn’t be more dead on. Jones writes how today’s shoppers are always connected and expect a seamless experience whether they are browsing online or instore, “online, offline, mobile. E-commerce, m-commerce, brick and mortar. These things are beginning to blur more and more, because, really, only one thing matters: Your customers and your customers are digital. It doesn’t matter if they’re in your store with phone in hand or browsing on a tablet from their couch. They want one seamless experience, and they don’t care what you call it.”

Jones touched on how Target’s approach has shifted away from “channel obsession” and experimented with being more channel agnostic, a risk that has paid off for the retail giant.

“Our customer doesn’t care what type of sale it is. Experiences are coming together and creating almost a new channel unto itself,” said Christopher Walton, vice president and merchandise manager at Target. “It’s not omnichannel, it’s on-demand. No one channel and no one experience reigns supreme,” Walton added at the WWD Digital Forum.

In order to experiment with this concept, the brand pushed the idea of showrooming for its online patio furniture. First, testing the concept in Denver, the retailer found a way to bring shoppers in store to view items and then pushed them online to complete the purchase.

The brand used this experience to learn and was able to work out any wrinkles prior to scaling its efforts. Target’s journey to removing the barriers for shoppers resulted in four key takeaways:

  • Be guest obsessed, not channel obsessed.
  • Reinvent, reinvent, reinvent.
  • Say “yes.”
  • And, finally, embrace change.

At the end of the day, consumers just simply shop, they don’t shop “omnichannel”. That doesn’t mean retailers need to abandon mobile, online or even brick-and-mortar stores, it means the focus needs to be consumer-first while adopting a more holistic approach to business. Drop the channels.