4 Tips for Omnichannel Retail Success
The vast majority of brands still only aspire to omnichannel marketing. Econsultancy’s Adobe Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing suggests that, in 2015, only 14 percent of brands took an integrated approach to all campaigns across all channels. The same results show this number hasn’t changed since 2013.
Omnichannel involves coordinating a seamless and consistent marketing message across every channel or device that consumers might conceivably use. As new channels are popping up all the time, this is a tall order — many marketers are struggling with multi- and cross-channel, let alone omni.
Some businesses try to develop new channels in a siloed approach that could result in a disjointed customer experience. Cross-channel is a step in the right direction, and considers how customers jump between channels (e.g., from catalog to website to in-store). The aim is to unify the customer experience.
Omnichannel marketing need not be a far-off goal. Get the fundamentals of cross-channel right, and you’ll be well placed to achieve success. Here are four key steps for retailers to take towards omnichannel:
Get cross-channel right first. The digital age has seen a huge proliferation of channels and, subsequently, fragmentation of consumer attention. To survive, retailers must think holistically across the entire purchase journey and all customer touchpoints.
Traditional brick-and-mortar stores, as well as e-commerce retailers, must understand the numerous channels a customer can engage with, and ensure that they're met with a consistent message and experience each time. The customer has no concept that these different paths might be run by different teams. For them, there’s only one company and they expect one — excellent — experience.
Automate your single customer view (SCV). Put the customer first. Understand how they interact with each channel, and communicate with them accordingly.
Understand the technical parameters that you're working within, and how these might differ across channels. For example, social and mobile don’t follow the same structured data rules that email marketers are used to. This will shape your choice of channels and ability to measure communications' effectiveness and return on investment.
Choose your technology — carefully. Brands must avoid "death by marketing technology." New platforms crop up every day and vendors are naturally keen to push theirs as the latest "must have."
Marketing leaders within organizations can help the adoption of new technology by making sure that it's clearly aligned to a company’s strategic direction. It’s their job to ensure there's a well-defined "why" for investing in and adopting technology that others in the organization can identify with and build upon.
When choosing a platform, make sure it’s one that helps you evaluate and measure the performance of different activities, as well as their effect on each other. This will help you ensure you’re only investing time and effort into channels which your customers value and engage with.
Appoint a customer experience manager. Companies often have internal marketing departments responsible for pay per click, email, direct mail and other channels, which compete for budget and revenue attribution. However, gone are the days of one channel, one purchase. If you don’t understand how channels work together, you’re at risk of making the wrong investment decisions.
What brands need to do is bring the focus back to customer experience — both inside and outside the store. Retailers should consider appointing customer experience directors to really understand the complete customer journey, and unify marketing teams around it.
If 14 percent of brands are already integrating their whole experience, and 59 percent either have or are working on customer journey analysis, can you afford to delay while your customers expect a completely integrated experience?
Lizi Zipser is a strategic consultant for Celerity, a database and CRM agency.