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 Chuck Schaeffer How to Succeed in Omni-Channel Retail


Omni-Channel Technology

  1. CRM Software. Achieving a holistic or what is often called a 360 degree view of each customer relationship is a prerequisite to delivering personalized and consistent communication which enhances the retailers brand with every engagement. Omni-channel success requires an underlying platform to act as the customer system of record and manage or facilitate all customer facing processes. For most organizations this will be the CRM system and most retailers will define their use cases in terms of marketing, sales and service.

  2. Marketing. Marketers need a unified marketing platform, integrated to the customer system of record, that will facilitate consumer online research to in-store purchases, permit consumers to manage their loyalty program from anywhere (online or in the store) and propagate new promotions across multiple channels simultaneously — on the ecommerce site, the email distribution, the social network pages, the mobile app and in stores whether at the POS, an information kiosk, interactive signage or on the floor via a tablet used in clienteling. Consumers now expect incentives and promotions based on who they are, not how they communicate. It’s becoming increasingly important to deliver the same offers or promotions across all channels.

    Omni-channel retailing delivers more actionable data to marketers – including purchase patterns, loyalty program behaviors, social media affinities, persona preferences, website interactions and more – in order to deliver more relevant, personalized, contextual and channel-specific messaging and offers. This data rich customer profile results in significantly greater engagement which facilitates revenue goals such as campaign conversions, cross-sell, up-sell and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

  3. Sales. There are many omni-channel sales opportunities to consider such as enabling a commerce anywhere approach, an omni-channel shopping basket, personalized product recommendations, next-best-offer automation or online ordering with in-store pickup or returns. A best practice that uses an omni-channel strategy to also promote Top of Mind awareness is to make your brands data and customer experience portable so that consumers can store it on their mobile device and take with them. Some retailers try to prevent consumers from scanning merchandise for fear of showrooming. Don’t fall into this trap. Instead, encourage in-store scanning with a mobile app that not only downloads the item but also supporting information and promotion that stays with the buyer during their shopping excursion.

  4. Service. Omni-channel customer service changes service delivery from a company managed channel (normally the call center) to social networks such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. CRM systems have embraced Social CRM in order to support social service, peer based communities and cross-channel escalation. From the customer service perspective, the CRM application must also be tightly integrated with the ERP or accounting system in order to support customer inquiries such as inventory availability, item in transit location, credit balance and transaction history.

  5. Enabling Technology. Retailers must be able to deliver the right content or knowledge to the consumer, employee or engagement point when needed, as well as maintain engagement continuity while seamlessly traversing conversations across channels in real-time. Technology is critical in meeting the right data, right place, right time challenge.

    Unifying siloed and disparate online and offline/store systems and applications is a perennial challenge. Organizations with siloed systems and multiple customer databases will likely need to consider a data governance strategy such as Master Data Management (MDM) in order to manage multiple views of the customer by standardizing customer data, consolidating data, eliminating duplicate data and even applying rules to prevent or reduce bogus data from being captured at various data entry sources. MDM is often a prerequisite to delivering consistent customer information regardless of location, application or channel.

    As the number of consumer interaction channels expand – and in parallel so grows consumer expectations for retailers to deliver personalized and consistent shopper experiences across all channels and touch points – using a customer system of record platform with MDM becomes essential and also better enables agile business strategies.

    The morphing of consumer and commercial technologies is a trend that retailers should recognize in their technology strategies. SoMoLo (Social Mobile Local) devices and services, touch-based interactive signage and more engaging POS systems are just a few of the tools that retailers will most certainly use to beat the competition.

  6. Business intelligence (BI). Consumer analytics deliver the closed loop reporting necessary to design and mature an omnichannel strategy. Identifying the most salient and actionable performance measures is often a difficult task. Omnichannel doesn’t necessarily change your retail performance measures, but it may impact how they are calculated. From my experience, top retail metrics include same store/channel growth, basket analysis, average ticket size, customer share, cross-sell/up-sell, RFM and CLV. The retailers that best acquire omnichannel data, use that data to interpret customer preferences and act upon that personalized information will be the winners.

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The morphing of consumer and commercial technologies is a trend that retailers should recognize in their technology strategies.


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