Get a Better Grip on the Dynamic Cross-Channel
To effectively reach the increasingly cross-channel shopping customer, merchants must understand the difference between multichannel merchandising and dynamic cross-channel merchandising. Multichannel merchandising usually refers to tactics contained within channels and isolated cross-channel tactics, such as buying online and picking up in stores. Dynamic cross-channel merchandising coordinates multiple channels to gain market share, grow revenue and profits, and increase customer loyalty.
It sounds simple, but the industry is filled with much talk and little action. What are the steps merchants need to take to go from siloed actions to dynamic merchandising?
1. Rethink how decisions are made about the four fundamental merchandising considerations: products, pricing, promotion and placement. Merchants must avoid hardwiring merchandising plans around where they want consumers to be. They need to orient efforts on where consumers are in reality, while better understanding who they are to begin with.
2. Add a fifth “p” — personalization. Personalization is the key to transforming the merchandising process into a dynamic environment. Use every channel to create demand in any other channel. Catalogs and stores drive consumers to the Web. The Web drives consumers to the store. E-catalogs drive consumers to contact centers.
By understanding consumers and taking this approach, merchants can begin creating a unified and layered approach to merchandising where the product, pricing, promotions, placement and personalization decisions that span channels are managed both centrally and in channel-specific fashion. This supports both cross-channel and channel-specific merchandising, dynamically adjusting to consumer needs both with self-service and assisted service through contact centers.
By embracing dynamic cross-channel merchandising, marketers can create a world where consumers can shop in a store, receive an e-mail after the visit that drives them to the Web where they access information on a product that pushes them to the contact center. There, they get more information and ultimately go back to the store to purchase a product. Sounds convoluted, but consumers are doing this today. If retailers want to prosper in this reality, they need to allow for a dynamic cross-channel shopping experience based on dynamic cross-channel merchandising.
Stan Dolberg is the chief platform strategist for n2N Commerce, responsible for corporate and product strategy and marketing. You can reach him at (617) 374-4794.