This week, Kevin Moffitt and I will be exploring the next generation Cross Channel Experience -- moving beyond simple Buy-Online, Pick-up in store to an optimized cross channel experience.
Join us on Infoboom to participate directly: http://theinfoboom.com/pov/expert/why-so-many-have-cross-channel-all-wrong-cross-channel
I will also be posting the transcript and comments in this blog for you to follow.
Kevin Moffitt's Opening Statement:
Why So Many Have Cross-Channel All Wrong
The Internet has rewritten the rules of business. Nowhere is this more apparent – or more dramatic -- than in retail, where consumers are rapidly learning how to play the virtual channel against traditional brick & mortar outlets.
Retailers who hope to succeed online and in-store not only need to serve each channel, but also service consumers across all channels. Like other industries, a crucial element of success lies in creating a single view of the customer.
In spite of great advances in multi-channel retailing, there remains a rampant misunderstanding about what it means to deliver a cross-channel experience.
The misconception of what cross-channel really means, coupled with internal business unit silos and lack of organizational alignment, has created a period of relatively slow adoption in the retail industry. In the meantime, customer behaviors are rapidly evolving – and retailers are not keeping pace with customer expectations. Many consumers have become “channel agnostic”, and will follow their individual preferences as they flow through a transaction.
Frustrations & Defections
Consumers already expect the ability to move seamlessly through the channels, and when they can’t, they may become frustrated and defect to competitors who fulfill their expectations. Simpler cross-channel initiatives, such as in-store pick up, still leave many retailers unable to react to this more sophisticated consumer demand.
Although modern retail systems currently capture a tremendous amount of customer data, very few retailers leverage that information to provide the aforementioned single view of the customer across all channels. Having access to customer information, including their preferences, order history, and recent behaviors regardless of where they choose to shop, is the key to developing and demonstrating customer centricity.
What You See Is What You Know
So how can you meet these demands? Cross-channel commerce becomes the imperative. A good cross-channel solution is not just about providing consumers the convenience of buying online and picking up their purchase in-store. The real value is in creating a holistic customer view, access to endless aisles of inventory, and consistent brand, pricing and promotions.
When a retailer combines that focus on customer intelligence with clear and consistent product information, brand experience and price, they’ve begun to execute a true cross-channel strategy.
My Response: I agree with the focus on customer intelligence, but think retailers need to move the customer experience to a single system that leverages common capabilities across multiple channels. (For example: offering a pervasive cart across web, mobile, native apps; consistent marketing and promotions engine; and real time consistency/context regardless of touch point).
Kevin – I agree with your point of view. While most companies deliver some level of multi channel brand experience, the majority still operate their sales channels independently, both from a customer-facing as well as a backend perspective.
This reality fuels one the industry’s costliest issues: cross channel defection. An IBM retail study revealed that almost 50% of shoppers that start the shopping process with one retailer ultimately purchase from another when they switch channels. While cross channel customer intelligence provides a powerful foundation, addressing this issue and responding to channel agnostic consumers requires cross channel optimization strategies instead of simple integration.
Brands should not only look at integrating disparate systems and data, but where possible, consolidate to a single system that leverages common capabilities across multiple channels. For example, offering a pervasive cart across web, mobile, native apps, and in-store, or using a common consistent marketing and promotions engine. This provides the foundation and consistent context as customers jump from one channel or touch point to another.