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Retail Media, Omni-Channel, Multi-Channel….Slow down I can’t keep up.

Written by Karin Sheridan

September 11, 2023

As someone who lives and plays in this arena even, I feel the pressure of keeping up with every new turn of a phrase. Is it a Buzz word or is it something real and tangible I need to pay attention to? So instead of my usual Millennial challenged perspective I decided to just get to the thick of things from my Grand-Millennial mindset.

Let’s break it down…

What exactly is an Omni-Channel Strategy, and does it matter to my business?

Omni-Channel is nothing more than a business that creates a “seamless” shopping experience across multiple channels such as in-store, on-line, an app or website. Pre-Covid all those channels might not have applied to all of us in the grocery sector, but they should be now. It’s what our customers expect of us. It’s a sales and marketing approach that provides consumers with a fully integrated shopping experience that can start at home and end at home, start at home and end in-store, start in-store and continue to an app. The possibilities need to be adaptable to our customers’ needs and flexible enough to change mid-stream to be seamless.

Okay, so then what is Multi-Channel? That’s a business that sells through multiple channels such as a brick-and-mortar store, an ecommerce site and maybe a marketplace. All these channels are not connected like an Omni-channel approach. The brainchild of Omni-channel is a strategy that intertwines channels so that a customer’s multiple interactions change their overall experience. Like browsing products at home, adding products to your app and then maybe visiting in-store to complete their shopping. Or vice versa.

Our businesses and lives were fundamentally changed after Covid.  We all learned to shop in various forms depending on our immediate needs. Online sales really took hold in the grocery industry like never before. While Brick-and-Morter shopping trips have resumed on-line sales still account for 1 of every 5 dollars spent. Those numbers have weight. So that brings us to Retail Media.

So how does Retail Media come into play exactly? And what does that mean?

Retail media is simply a form of advertising intended to grab a shopper’s attention when they are on the path to purchase. For most of our lives that has centered around great signage, in-store audio promotions, regional retail buys, banners, and ad layouts.  So, it’s not really a new concept. What is new is the task of learning how to reimagine this path to purchase so it’s inclusive to the digital age we find ourselves in. Entering into a new retail media space for most of us has become a requirement to stay relevant. How do we bring familiarity and relevance in-store and digitally at the same time?

Lucky for us there are plenty of retailers and national companies out there helping to pave the way with retail media platforms for independent grocers. I dare you to swing a bat without hitting one or two platforms like Webstop that would love to help make you more accessible while strengthening brand-grocer partnerships. Let them help you build that retail media. We need to expand beyond banner ads to create a more personalized and entertaining experience. After all isn’t promoting customer loyalty our end game?

For years you have heard me encourage retailers to focus some of their retail media on telling a story and creating an engaging experiences through audio. Now we are starting to see that mindset take hold of our digital presences on websites with videos and audio. Finally, I get to say I told you so!

But the growth of your retail media better not be limited to just your online presence. Let’s ramp up that in-store media as well. We have interactive Kiosks from ShopToCook, Smart carts from Instacart and apps that help locate items in the store, QR Codes, Digital Screens with eye catching promotions, from yours truly (among others). I even read about these robots that run around stores looking for hazards, miss placed items and spills to clean up. It’s like Rosie has come to life in 2023 running around cleaning up after George, Jane, Judy, Astro and Elroy! Look it up youngsters.

Bottomline….Retail media isn’t going anywhere,  is here to stay. So let’s embrace it.


Blue Skies Everyone

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