Multi- and Omni-Channel Marketing: Opportunities and Pitfalls for Manufacturers and Retailers

4th International Conference on Research on National Brand & Private Label Marketing (NB&PL2017)

Retailing has experienced extraordinary changes in the last two decades. The increase in the variety of channel formats and the progression from single to multi-, then to omni-channel marketing has made shopping and buying more convenient for consumers.  They are increasingly shopping anytime and anywhere via multiple channels, browsing in one, ordering in another, and perhaps picking up in a third.  

In multi-channel marketing, marketers manage different channels with different consumers’ profiles and interests. Thus, some consumers still find physical stores the most convenient way of shopping, while others appreciate the convenience of making an online purchase in the comfort of their own homes and devices. In this approach, managers seek to maximize the performance of each channel, aligning different segments with each channel to the extent possible. Omni-channel takes a holistic view of the customer experience, regardless of the channel, as companies recognize consumers’ desire for flexibility and the importance of placing them in the center of the strategy. Mobile technology is certainly expanding the opportunities and accelerating the transition to this omni-channel approach. The goal is clear: to provide consumers with the most positive manufacturer brand and retail brand experience in a way that sustains both manufacturer and retailer profitability.

Without doubt, this new marketplace reality offers both opportunities and challenges for both parties. Manufacturers, in particular, must find the right balance of products and support for their bread-and-butter retailers who are trying to become omni-channel at the same time as they find the best ways to partner with the behemoth of the online world,, and other e-tailers. They need the right metrics to measure the effectiveness of their distribution decisions, balancing their own performance vis-à-vis retailers’ performance in order to sustain the relationship. On the other side, retailers must rethink how their strategies – from shelf space allocation, in-store displays and check-out sales to private label assortment, pricing, and branding, to loss leader promotions – could work in an environment where consumers who used to browse, explore, and buy in the store may increasingly come in, pick up items and redeem offers as efficiently as possible with help from their mobile and leave.  Both sides need to clearly understand the opportunities and threats that multi- and omni-channel contexts offer for specific product categories, specific brands, and specific retail formats, as some are likely to be more vulnerable than others.

In keeping with its established objectives, the conference welcomes papers on topics related to any private label and/or national brand issues, though this year the primary targeted topics are, but not limited to, the following: 

·   Adding new channels or eliminating some of them

·   Managing customers across different channels

·   Driving the simultaneous customers’ choice for touch-points and channels

·   Importance of retailer vs. brand loyalty and how marketers can drive each in the multi- and omni-channel setting

·   Addressing the role of brands for the integration in retailers’ channels and touch-points

·   Managing consumers’ proclivity to plan and search, and order in one channel and pick-up in the other

·   Creating the greatest customer shopping experience any channel and touch-point

·   Integrating the retail mix across channels

·   Analyzing the effect of different marketing mix instruments used across touch-points and channels on their performance

·   Understanding factors affecting showrooming and webrooming behavior of shoppers

·   Role of private label and private label branding strategy for e-tailers (e.g., Amazon) who sell a much wider array of categories than a typical supermarket chain

·   Optimizing assortment mix at different channels

·   Analyzing the consequences of customers using mobile touch-points within the store

·   Measuring the performance of multiple retail channels/touch-points

·   Understanding the ‘omni-channel consumer’

·   Handling customer returns policy in the online context 

·   Resolving conflicts in the manufacturer-retailer interface

·   Branding decisions in the online context

·   Opportunities for retailers to communicate with customers in a personalized manner throughout online, mobile and social media

·   Sending the right message to the right audience: communication decisions for NBs and PLs

·   Retailers and brands reviewing their communication strategies across offline and online context

·   Understanding how customers search information in a multi- and omni-channel context

·    Addressing branding decisions from an omnichannel perspective

·   Product Innovation decisions for national brands and PLs

·   Retailers starting to use promotions with PLs

·   Asymmetric consequences of NBs and PL marketing decisions

·   Balancing customer base: attracting new customers vs. retaining older customers

·   Strengthening the relationship between manufacturers and retailers

·   E-commerce growth in the FMCG context