What it is that defines a retailer as an “omni-channel” retailer is a little difficult to pin down, something about web, mobile, and brick-and-mortar “integrating” into a “seamless” customer experience. The fuzziness of the definition is what causes “omni-channel” to be such a buzzword that executive leaders, gurus and CEOs like to throw around with little reprise because no one really knows what it means.
To make the buzzword mean anything I think it helps to define the tactics that make it up. The following is a checklist of tactics that would make the web, mobile, and brick-and-mortar “integrate” into a “seamless” customer experience. When a retailer does these things they would be “omni-channel”.
- Order online and pick up in store
- See instore product inventory online
- The ability to filter products online for only products available in your local store
- Access information about products in the store using mobile (for example: qr codes on products lead to online reviews)
- The ability to recognize an offline shopper when they are shopping on your site to personalize their shopping experience
- Measure the influence of online paid media to offline purchases
- all shopping channels work from the same database of products, prices, promotions, etc
- Offers are customized to the customer’s purchase patterns, social network affinities, website visits, in-store visits, loyalty programs, etc.
- The item in the mobile shopping basket persists in the basket when the shopper logs on to their account with the same retailer using their laptop, or any other device
- A relevant, targeted single marketing message across all channels and touchpoints
- Drive customers to stores with advertising on mobile to customers within a certain distance from stores
- Store associates can have access to inventory online if items are out of stock in store
- Individual Facebook pages and other social media sites for each store
- Each store has its own localized page on the website
- Buy in store and get incentives to join email or social groups online
I’ll add more as I come across them.
February 25th, 2013
All retailers are talking about is “omni-channel” retailing – where the “web, mobile, and brick-and-mortar integrate into a truly seamless customer experience”. Customers expect the experience to be the same and accommodating on al touch points – the site, their phone and the store. When right, customers are more satisfied (and hopefully more inclined to loyalty) and it gives retailers more visibility into customer behavior, allowing the retailer to understand and influence the customer journey across all channels.
The key to succeeding in omni-channel retailing is data – the ability to collect it, aggregate it and make decisions with it. If you have the data that shows how online influences offline, how mobile influences shoppers in store or how social media is used on mobile, desktop and in store – then your channels can work with each other instead of against each other in providing the experience the customer expects.
All departments need to have aligned incentives. The ecommerce team most likely has their own online revenue targets apart from the targets of the stores. This give ecomm no incentive to appeal to in-store shoppers, because any shopper that doesn’t convert on the site is a lost sale – even if that customer was just there to gather information before going into the store. If they had the data that lead to the insight that X% of offline shoppers are referred from online they could do more to becoming more “omni-channel”. But without the data why bother becoming more seamless for the customer? It only makes your channel look bad.
If you want something to count, it helps to figure out a way to count it. To put it another way, “You manage what you measure.” Until Omni-Channel is measurable, it will be more of a buzzword with good intentions rather than a force for becoming more customer centric.
February 18th, 2013