Monday, September 10, 2012

Lesson #121: Designing an Omni-Channel Business

Today’s consumers are more tech-savvy, seek more value and seek it through more channels than ever before.  Therefore, you need a consumer brand/user experience across all platforms, with content customized to the needs of each specific customer.  A shift in mindset from “comparable store sales” to “comparable customer sales”.  Below are a few high-level trends and considerations for properly designing an omni-channel business to meet these customer-centric needs.

  • Omni-channel puts the customer at the center of all decisions and breaks down silos between the retail/web/mobile/social platforms.  See the following graphic from IDC Retail Insights:
 
  • While shopping retail stores, consumers are heavily using their smart phone for product review, pricing comparisons, sourcing coupons, etc.  You need to tap into that trend with mobile apps.
  • Tablet visitors spend 50% more per transaction than smart phone visitors and 20% more than PC visitors. Need to make sure you have tablet platform apps built out and optimized.
  • 60-70% of offline sales now impacted by digital efforts in one way or another, with digital investments in the 1-3% of revenues range, on average.  One channel drives the other, and vice versa.
  • Marketing silos must be broken down, with one centralized effort for sourcing new customers, driving incremental sales from old customers, reducing attrition, maximizing effectiveness, managing inventory, leveraging data and building loyalty on one tech platform.  You can’t have web competing with retail, but collaborating for a combined/unified experience/success.
  • Furthermore, marketing and technology are converging into one department, formerly siloed between CMO’s and CTO’s.  CMO's are more dependent on data than ever, and only technology can help them to prioritize and make sense of the "fire hose" of data coming in.
  • Multi-channel customers spend 15-30% more than single-channel customers, and omni-channel customers spend 15-30% more than multi-channel customers.  You have to identify, incentivize and grow this base of high-affinity customers to truly maximize sales.
  • Study user behaviors while they are not shopping, to look for targeted marketing opportunities (e.g., posted on Facebook they have an upcoming vacation, so you know when to follow up with a targeted luggage offer).
  • Organizations must shift to more entrepreneurial startup mentalities—“always be deploying”
    requirements will create reorganizational pressures in the short term.  Digital needs a green light to “do amazing, next-generational things”.  IT oversight will shift towards a more “venture capital” mindset, vs. the current capital budgeting approach.
  • Organizations should be designed with incentives/rewards, people/culture, business processes, technology and internal structure to fully embrace the evolution to omni-channel needs.  Capabilities need to be assessed with a “fresh set of non-biased eyes”.  There is no “one right answer” here, need to figure out what works best for each organization.
  • Customer experiences need to be seamless from platform to platform, with similar branding, functionality, and content, optimized toward the strengths of each channel.  Here is an example template from Tyler Tate on  how to think about omni-channel design across platforms and customer tasks throughout the entire customer experience:
 
Omni-channel marketing and loyalty are not simply buzzwords, they are based on hard facts and current trends in the market. Think overhaul, not upgrade, while ditching the one-size fits all mindset with consumers and channel silos internally.

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