Channel Integration: Make it Seamless
• It gets new customers. You want new customers to find you. Seamless integration of all of your channels gives you a better chance to snag new customers and thus make your brand or company as visible to them as possible. Tell prospects all the ways in which they can contact you. This will enhance your chance of making a sale. If they stumble upon you through a Web search, be sure your home page has your store locations and/or an easy way for Web surfers to request a print catalog.
• Customers are demanding it. Customers expect all merchants today to have a Web site. They expect easy product-returns procedures. They expect to be able to use a phone to order the thing they saw in a store last week but couldn’t decide then if they wanted it. And they’re communicating these expectations to you via e-mail and through your call center reps. Most importantly, they’re communicating their purchase behaviors to you.
How to Integrate Your Channels
• Develop an organizational structure. Have all of your channel groups report to the same person.
If this doesn’t work in your company, develop a cross-channel team responsible for ensuring consistency in, for example, policy, pricing, branding and signage. This team will be crucial to effective integration.
• Send a consistent brand message. Getting your brand to resonate with customers so they become advocates of your product and your company should be your ultimate goal. Ensure that your brand attributes such as colors, graphics, type styles and words, are consistent among your channels. In this way, customers will feel comfortable with you, whether they’re shopping your catalog or your Web site.
• Enable channel shifting. Let your customers move seamlessly between channels. If they ordered via the Web and then realized they forgot something, they should be able to call your order line and add other items easily. If you carry a product on your Web site that’s not available in the stores, offer to order it for them and not charge them for shipping and handling.