Three More Key Multichannel Trends and Issues
If you want to become a true multichannel marketing master, you should be on top of these three, in addition to the seven we outline in the main article.
8. Customer service and fulfillment are to the multichannel business model. At one point in direct marketing history, it was thought that fulfillment was important, but wouldn’t set one apart from competitors. During the pure-play Internet heyday of the ’90s, it was actually amusing to watch Web sellers struggle with fulfillment.
Today, top business and consumer catalogers such as Quill, Lands’ End, Drs. Foster & Smith and Internet-only companies like Zappos.com, have raised the bar. This means that if you expect to compete in the multichannel arena, you’ll have to pay closer attention to your customer service and fulfillment.
Smart marketers track every aspect of telephone, Web and mail orders, as well as inquiries (the front-end of fulfillment). They similarly measure the length of time to pick/pack and ship every order, while gauging the level of returns, exchanges and complaints of customers (the back-end of fulfillment). Good benchmarks are available by which to measure one’s business and the better multichannel companies apply these metrics to their operations.
9. Define and manage your business financial model. There’s no one single financial model for every multichannel marketer. Every business has its unique product and margin mix, as well as a specialized technique for acquiring new customers and communicating with existing ones. What’s more, most have an exclusive fulfillment system and a different set of overhead costs.
When we look at the vast differences between a retail store business model (with high fixed costs and lower variable costs) and direct marketing (with lower fixed costs and much higher variable costs), it’s easy to see how different multichannel companies’ financials can be.