BCG Henderson Institute

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Omnichannel, omnichannel, omnichannel. That’s been the mantra for most companies over the past decade, and for good reason. But while companies have created useful bridges between some channels, such as “buy online, pick up in store” and “research online, purchase offline,” most customer journeys have remained standardized, linear, and tied to a specific channel. That’s about to change.

Instead of go-to-market constructs centered around distribution, the new era of customer engagement will center on touchpoints—the chatbots, kiosks, robo-advisors, and other physical-digital-and-virtual interactions that customers have with companies as they navigate their purchasing journeys.

Today, a customer can scan a QR code and pull up basic product or pricing information while shopping in a store. Soon, however, that same QR code could allow customers to connect with a sales agent, purchase a good, and join a community of users—all from a single interaction.

The shift is a result of maturing technologies that give touchpoints greater functionality and connected networks that feed them continually refreshed insights. Rather than acting as a node on a predefined distribution path, touchpoints are becoming full-blown portals.

These advances will reset the rules of engagement, allowing leaders to attain true omni capabilities. Getting there, however, will require orchestrating even more data and analytics and managing the massive leap in complexity that will result.

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