The Key To Omni-Channel Retailing

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.

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