We are all aware that buyers have more options than ever before. The omnichannel business landscape we've built up over the past decade can be amazing, or overwhelming... and most of the time both.

I've worked with enough startups and product designers to understand something very important: omnichannel design, for the most part, is not desirable except for having easy return policies and brand expectations. This is not the most popular bandwagon view on the omnichannel approach, so let me tell you why I believe this to be true.

What Does Omnichannel Even Mean?

Omnichannel is a multichannel approach to sales that seeks to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience, whether they're shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone, or in a brick-and-mortar store. Even more simplified, it means letting the customer choose how and when they interact with your business, and making sure every option is available to that customer, all working together, all seamless, all consistent. Just because you have a beautiful website or engaging social media, does not mean your approach is omnichannel if everything is not working together.

3 Reasons Omnichannel May Not Be For You

1. Complexity is a breeding ground for startup failure. Startups have to learn to get one thing right before taking on the world. Do your research, figure out where your consumers are, pick your right channel to start, and then learn it, master it, and go from there. This natural growth and learning process is something a lot of entrepreneurs miss out on and part of why the failure rate is so high. Put your time in, and learn, and you won't regret it.

2. Setting up a truly seamless omnichannel experience is expensive. Take Macy's as a great example of a business always working to bring their brand into the future of retail. They have teams of marketing experts who work with agencies who also have teams of marketing experts to make sure their omnichannel approach is always growing and changing with the modernization of technology. This is an everyday task according to Macy's CMO, who said, "I have an incredible team whose job it is to keep me educated, so we as a team can make the best decisions in this ever-changing, fast-paced environment. I read a lot. I get probably over 300 emails a day to keep in touch with what is going on in the new digital world. I can tell you, it is hard."

3. Being There Is More Important Than Being Everywhere. What I mean by this is that consistency is more important than size. Oliver Wyman put out their most recent data on how consumers actually shop in an omnichannel world and the numbers don't lie.

Over seventy-five percent of branded apparel purchases are still made in stores today.

73%of shopping journeys start with shoppers looking for a specific item or visiting a multi-brand store or site, while only 27% start with a consumer looking for a specific brand.

What we can learn from these latest data sets is simple: it is more important to be consistently there, to have great messaging, to make sure your consumer targeting is correct, that you are providing something excellent, and that your customer service and interaction with customers is so on-point, than it is to be everywhere at once. Allowing your brand to holistically grow and expand into the channels that make sense will prevent a lot of the trial and error that ends up eating startup budgets, and even killing them off.  

Bottom Line: Learn and grow instead of grow then learn. Build up infrastructure rather than spreading yourself too thin.

Published on: Jul 24, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.