Should the word omnichannel stay?
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Should the Word Omnichannel Stay?

Thanks to Rida, on our team, for pointing out an interesting article from several years ago. Mike Cassidy wrote a post called “Omnichannel is not a word, please stop saying it.” He wrote this in 2014. Similar thoughts have come up since then. Several colleagues have argued that we need to just call it ‘commerce’ or just ‘retail’. All interesting points, but I cannot agree … yet.

Then and Now  Omnichannel retail is part of the retail renaissance

In 2014, Cassidy pointed out that his Google search found 2.13 million hits on the word ‘omnichannel’. He would be particularly distressed today. I checked and found 10.4 million hits. From 2014 to 2018 the use of the word has increased almost five fold. Despite his plea to stop using the term, it has vastly grown in popularity.

Retail: Just Not Enough

In the long term, I do agree. Eventually, we will eventually just call it ‘retail’. Or perhaps just call it ‘commerce’. It makes sense. But for the moment, does it make sense to do so?

Just calling it retail loses sight of the important ongoing work. Omnichannel retail is part of the retail renaissance taking place today. It is part of the massive retail transformation happening right now. Sure, many retailers are getting it wrong. They aren’t embracing the renaissance. They run the risk of surviving today, but perishing tomorrow. Many are dragging their feet. Many are longing for yesteryear. Back then we mused, “stack them high and watch them fly.” But that was then.

On the other hand, some are getting it right. Some are embracing the evolving, changing, and adapting state of the industry. A growing number are activating their omnichannel strategies. However, that number is still small. As an industry we are just barely building our cocoon for the transformation.


Read More: Omnichannel Retail vs Ecommerce Pureplay

Click and Collect

American Omnichannel Practices


Where are we Today?

Yes, we have seen the press releases and reports. Some shout that in North America 63% of retailers are already doing omnichannel! Another in late 2017 read that 95% of European retailers offer click and collect services. If you believe these statistics – then we arrived. But, don’t believe everything you read.

OrderDynamics’ Omni-1000 research showed us exactly how many retailers have omni-channel that shoppers can use at the moment. Taken from a consumer’s perspective, the research reviewed over one thousand retailers. It attempted to place in-store pickup orders. Results varied by country, shown in the chart. Most notable is the most significant retail market on earth – the US. Only 29.1% of retailers offered in-store pickup (click and collect) capabilities. With that information you must ask yourself, where are we today, truly?

 Click and Collect Rate Per Country


Is Retail There Yet? 

Taking a sober look at our industry, are we are there yet? Are we at the point at where the vast majority of retailers get it? Are retailers offering what a growing consumer base wants for buying options?

These aren’t really rhetorical questions. The simple answer is, NO.

So What? 

Get the Omni-1000 Research Study

 What happens if we drop omnichannel and call it ‘retail’ … just ‘retail’? Might it take the pressure off the retailers who are not there yet? Yes, it will. Being at the infancy of omnichannel adoption, we need to call it out. Retailers can differentiate by catering to customers who want to buy through various means. Frankly, it highlights the retailer who isn’t there yet.

Don’t misunderstand. This is not a criticism of retailers who haven’t figured it out. Transformation is never an easy thing. However, we need to keep pushing. We need to keep highlighting it. We need the word ‘omnichannel’ to keep focus on the retailers who are adapting well. We have to point the way to modern retailing. The pressure has to stay up.

‘Omnichannel’ – Keep it or Drop it?

Just calling it 'retail will mean both advanced retailers & laggards will be clumped togetherYes, I truly want to agree with Mike Cassidy’s plea. He wrote that plea in 2014. Yet, even today, I don’t see enough progress with our markets to warrant dropping the term. Retail is still not advanced enough. Just calling it ‘retail’ will mean both advanced retailers and laggards will be clumped together. That just does NOT make sense.

Yes, there are pockets of greatness. There are pockets of some amazing services. These cater to the customer’s shopping desires. Some even make the buying journey an adventure pointed out in the Retail Brand Intimacy post. But, despite these pockets, most are still on the journey,  thinking about it, or delaying – hoping it will go away.

Retail feels like a long roadtrip with the children on the backseats. The answer to the question: “Are we there yet?” isn’t “Yes, we arrived 15 minutes ago, I am just driving around for the joy of it all.” Rather the answer is “no, we are not there yet.” Until 80% of retailers have got their omnichannel strategy working – we won’t be there yet. Today 29.1% of US retailer offer in-store pickup (click and collect). We are far off the mark.

Maya Angelou once pointed out that, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” In retail, we are going through that challenging transformation, right now.

No, we have not arrived. We are not out of our cocoon yet. As such, the word, ‘omnichannel’ needs to stay.



Charles Dimov - Director Marketing OrderDynamicsCharles Dimov is Vice President of Marketing at OrderDynamics. Charles has 21+ years experience in Marketing, Sales and Management across various IT and Technology businesses. Previous roles include Chief of Staff, Director Product Marketing, and Director Sales. Charles has held roles in brand name firms like IBM, Ericsson, HP, ADP, and OrderDynamics.