Magazine Article | January 6, 2014

Omni-Channel Is A Figment

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies
Matt Pillar

By Matt Pillar, chief editor

A couple of years ago, I initiated a debate among our editorial and publishing staffs about the term omni-channel. To oversimplify my argument, I didn’t like the term and I didn’t want to use it in our publication. My position was rooted in the definition of omni. It means all; in all ways, places, etc.; without limits.

In my mind — and from the retailer’s operational perspective — the concept of all or limitless channel retail is possibly impossible at worst and cripplingly expensive at best. The term cross-channel, now deemed passé, remains closer to reality. As far as I’m concerned (and as far as modern fulfillment systems are concerned), there are still and will always be multiple channels. Increasingly, they cross. But, it’s altogether possible that beyond theoretical thinking, there might never be a physical manifestation of the omni-channel retailer. An omnipresent brand? Conceivable. A retail omni-channel? Not so much.