We’ve been hearing a lot about the omni-channel over the past year — the ability for customers to seamlessly interact with a retailer from multiple touch points. But have we already moved past the omni-channel?
Josh Sigel thinks so. The former CIO of Natural Markets Food Group (NMFG) believes we need to move toward what he’s dubbed the “multiplex brand experience,” which could be considered the next phase of the omni-channel experience, and which is outlined in the deck below.
At every customer touch point — whether physical or digital — your customer is forming a single opinion on the value of their experiences. The problem, says Sigel, is that in many cases retailers focus on the channels as an end point, rather than providing a true seamless experience. After all, customers don’t live in channels.
Sigel believes the point of sale is disappearing and will be replaced by a “point of experience,” where channel-based solutions will be integrated to create what he calls “multiplex brand experiences.”
During his time at NMFG, an operator of retail food and food service stores throughout North America, he introduced the concept of channel multiplexing, with in-store and out-of-store experiences based on customers’ desires rather than system constraints. This turned into one of the most advanced mobile payment, loyalty, in-store kiosk and online ordering systems in the business.
The idea was to create a new retail dining and grocery concept that provides healthy, yet convenient, food. The Richtree location in Toronto’s Eaton Centre, one of the highest trafficked malls in North America, functions as a multi-kitchen eatery with grab-and-go organic grocery store.
Sigel helped to design an architecture that supports multiple customer end-point experiences, combining mobile ordering and payment capabilities with consolidated grocery and restaurant ordering systems.
To minimize queues and provide convenient ordering and payment options, the Richtree location offers a mobile app, online ordering, in-store kiosks, as well as express pick-up. A customer could place an order at the office and pick it up at the express pick-up counter, or order from multiple kitchens at an in-store kiosk while paying with their smartphone (with only one charge on the bill).
Another unique feature includes grouping technology, which allows groups or families to order from different food stations while paying with a single smartphone. Digital menus allow the store to make price and menu adjustments in real time. And a streamlined POS with cross-platform integration improves inventory management by capturing sales in real time.
The multiplex experience goes beyond integrating channels to improving the customer experience across all of those channels. It makes the point of sale wherever the customer wants it to be. If done correctly, it can make customer interactions more personal — even without a cashier.