We couldn’t agree more with the recent articles by Matt Pillar Integrated Solutions For Retailer and Paula Rosenblum of Retail Systems Research about the limitations of the term “omnichannel” to describe today’s hyperconnected customers. What could be more comprehensive than “omni,” you might ask? Omni includes everything. The authors conclude, as we did in our white paper on this topic, that focusing excessively on customer buying channels might be shortsighted. While we might not be ready to completely throw out the term “omnichannel” completely (we are a technology provider after all, and what would we be without buzzwords). But we will admit, there are a lot of folks talking about it, and not a lot delivering on it. And it really comes down to a customer mind-set, not a technology one.
Customers are not committed to specific retail channels. “The channel is irrelevant,” says HSN CEO Mindy Grossman. “Technology enables us to create better intimacy.” Customers have come to expect a personalized total shopping experience each and every time they make a purchase, whether they’re online, in-store or on the phone. It’s all about convenience. Customers want to research, buy, receive and return products on their terms—not dictated by your organizational structure. And, they do expect to receive the same quality experience regardless of the device or method they use—and have no qualms of leaving companies that can’t deliver this
We have identified six best practices to help make all on your way to becoming a more customer-centric business and truly delivering a seamless shopping experience, regardless of channel.
(1) Review organizational roadblocks. Put the customer at the center of all decision-making and align your organization philosophically around serving the customer and selling more stuff. Break down silos between stores, website and mobile. Re-assess all aspects of the organization to ensure people, business processes, incentives, technology and internal structure support an omnichannel strategy.
(2) Bridge the marketing and IT gap. Marketing is more reliant than ever on data. Technology is the “great facilitator” that will help cull, parse and analyze that information. These teams, especially, need to work in tandem to help you leverage this data to make more informed decisions around user experience and functionality.
(3) Align sales and incentives. Avoid channel conflict by establishing a sales program with cross-channel incentives, attributions and measurements. The reward is you making the sale, instead of your competitor.
(4) Deploy omnichannel technologies. Make sure the enabling commerce technologies you choose are flexible enough to integrate with your existing systems and support how your business runs. The ability to monitor, analyze and control all your retail activities from a central platform gives you the freedom from having to use, manage and update multiple solutions.
(5) Integrate to accommodate. Ensure your platform integrates systems to talk with each other. Create your systems in such a way to handle integrated point of sale (POS) with systematic accommodations.
(6) Talk to your customers. It’s good to read and hear about the latest tactics emerging in the market, but the best way to know what will work for you is to talk to your customers and share their insights throughout the organization. Their input can be invaluable in terms of understanding their specific needs, wants, pains and lifestyles. Put your focus on them and the channels will take care of themselves.