Engaging your customers usually requires many touch points. To do this a multiple channel approach is required to give them every opportunity to buy from you.

In traditional marketing usually a concept is formed into a tangible product followed by a marketing strategy, channel strategy, logistics strategy and eventually it lands in a store. This traditional approach also requires many internal resources. In the online world, it works in completely the opposite way. The customer will find you through different channels – from search to social media and everything in between. The point here is that different channels give the customer different ways of finding you and trusting your brand, products or services.

I believe multi-channel retailing will be the only way forward for smart retailers. Using different mediums to better engage your customers to trade with you will be a ‘must’ in the not-too-distant future. Things like online stores, mobile devices and enewsletters will be a way to provide a consistent brand experience for your customer(s). It also allows retailers to accurately measure sales and consumer behaviour to better understand what works, what doesn’t work and to identify gaps. The downfall of multi-channel retailing is the cost. The expense lies in the roll out of technologies, especially when hardware and software are required, as well multiple integrations into internal systems.

Multi-channel marketing should be a part of an overall strategy and could be executed incrementally as long as there is a clear plan and goals. They key starting point is to understand your customers’ DNA in order to create a clear profile of them. Understand what type of medium they use best on a day-to-day basis and most importantly how they like to receive content. Developing a profile of your customer is key, not just from a branding standpoint but from a content delivery standpoint.

As I mentioned in my last blog, retailers should be looking at US or UK retailers who do this exceptionally well. The Online Retailer expo to be held in Sydney from 6 July to 9 July 2010 is confirmation that Australian retailers are seriously looking at better ways to engage their customers using different mediums and technologies.