Editor's note: Mary Mathes is director of data insights for Alpha-Diver. She can be reached at mary@alpha-diver.com. Hunter Thurman is president of Alpha-Diver. He can be reached at hunter@alpha-diver.com.

The buzzword “omnichannel” abounds in every facet of insights and marketing, from media headlines to research and strategy briefs. And while the concept is foundational to successful activation, few internal teams can articulate a crisp definition of the word, much less formulate a linear plan for real-world success. But there is a formula and it relies on diagnosing consumer and shopper perceptions (after all, perception is reality).

For some time now we’ve consistently heard two questions from everyone from Wall Street analysts to retail strategists to brand business leaders:

Herein lies the symbiotic nature of omni-activation: the unlock for these two dilemmas relies upon improving the consumer experience in omnichannel in order to free your brand from having to compete on price alone. 

Let’s start with the definition of omnichannel, which is: the touchpoints throughout daily life in which a consumer can make a purchase decision and act upon it. The element of “throughout daily life” is important, as the omnichannel continues to fragment and complicate. In terms of “ways to get things,” just look at the options a consumer has right now:

To win across omnichannel, brands and retailers must understand how to improve the experience for their target shoppers where and how they choose to shop. Digital commerce is certainly important to some but brick-and-mortar stores remain significant to many. One consumer’s reason for preferring to shop online is different from another’s preference for in-store.

Most importantly, shoppers across all breeds of hybrid commerce are motivated – and hindered – by far more than mere price considerations.

Using a familiar context – shopping for f...