The reason for this is that today’s consumer has the opportunity to design their own journey across an organisation’s touchpoints. Forcing a customer to a stick to a single lane or to go back to the beginning every time they switch, has a negative impact on their experience, and may even result in them never making it to the point of purchase.
Take the example of a traditional multi-channel retailer, which will likely sell their products via a website (the online channel), as well as via brick-and-mortar stores (the offline channel). These two channels typically have very little to do with one another. Both have their own stock and sell directly to customers, and it is often the case that items purchased online cannot be returned in store. The two channels function as completely separate entities; in effect, they may as well be separate businesses.
The problem with this is that modern consumers do not see brands as siloed entities.
They live in “real time” and are accustomed to receiving real-time responses within their personal communications. In their commercial interactions, they expect the same: they want to be able to interact instantly with a brand online, via mobile and in the physical store, and for context to be preserved with each interaction such that the experience has a consistent feel.
This has given rise to concepts such as unified retail, which seamlessly links the online and offline segments of a business.