I'm calling it. "Omnichannel" is dead. And in my mind it's long overdue.
Nearly 16 years since its apparent coining, I think most of us can agree that if "omni-channel" ever had any real usefulness (debatable), as a concept it is now well past its expiration date. And while I've been bashing the term for quite some time now, based upon discussion at the last few conferences at which I have spoken, it sounds like others might be finally willing to put omnichannel out to pasture as well.
The essence of harmonized retail is accepting the truth that all the talk about different channels is not particularly helpful. The customer is the channel.
Ever since certain CEO's started saying "omnichannel" in just about every sentence (I'm looking at you Terry Lundgren), the term quickly became problematic. First, it was alway ill-defined. Second, it was often served up as the panacea for what ailed every struggling retailer--and therefore the center piece of many a conference keynote, white paper and technology provider sales pitch. Third, it's repeated so mindlessly and ad nauseam I wonder if someone is getting a royalty every time it's uttered. Lastly, and most importantly, to the extent it was pointing at the right idea, it all got lost in the "omni". Simply stated, a great customer experience has never been about being everywhere and being all things for all people. What matters is showing up for the right customers, where it really matters, in remarkable ways.
Showing up in remarkable ways at the moments that matter in a customer's journey is what I call "Harmonized Retail." While I'm loath to add to the over-crowded stable of buzzwords--and admit to being more than a little bit biased--I think harmonized has important advantages over omnichannel, unified commerce, seamless integration or any of the other terms being used to describe and tackle the changing nature of shopping. Moreover, when we look at the retailers that are doing well right now in this age of vast digital disruption, we can see how harmonized retail is more evocative and prescriptive and therefore, I would argue, more useful.