Posted by Angela Diaco
Creating a seamless Omnichannel strategy has been a hot topic for everyone from apparel stores to QSR. The term, Omnichannel (also spelled omni-channel) describes 'a multichannel approach to sales that seeks to provide the customer with a seamless shopping experience, whether the customer is shopping online from desktop, from a mobile device, or in-store' (TechTarget). While this seems like a no-brainer, it has become a behemoth effort across all departments to navigate ever-changing channels and internal strife.
A recent panel at eTail East, which brings together thousands of retailers to discuss shifting market opportunities and keeping up with the savvy consumer, talked about the growing pains associated with developing a consistent experience. Wayne Duan, Director of Digital at Walgreens, Kathy Doyle Thomas, EVP of Half Price Books and Brad Dolian, Mobile Marketing Manager at Cabela’s shared failures and wins of growing an omnichannel approach within their company.
Whether you’re optimizing your strategy or just starting out, here are 4 insights to keep in mind when you approach omnichannel:
“Of course!” you should be thinking, but actioning change to create a valuable customer experience is harder than it looks.
You can start simply by pooling knowledge of your customers across departments. ‘[We learned that] our online customers are a different audience entirely than in-store,’ said Kathy Thomas of Half Price Books, which helped them to better cater to the needs of each. But in order to take that first step, Half Price needed to "push ourselves to look differently at ourselves.” It's okay to adjust your messages tone or voice for a new audience on mobile or digital, so long as you maintain your core brand message.
Wayne Duan of Walgreens brought up the saying "marketing is too important to leave to the marketing team,” and now says “digital is too important to leave to the digital teams.” Once you have a clear view of your customer by channel, take Walgreen’s approach by implementing agile teams that include marketers AND merchants. Thomas echoed the need to have these two departments working together side-by-side.
All panel members agreed that omnichannel is tough to implement because of the inevitable internal friction it causes. The need for differentiated tactics by channel and driving sales in new ways requires you to change your team mindset.
“Finding enough resources is tough,” said Brad Dolian, Mobile Marketing Manager at Cabela's. Dolian emphasized a reliance on internal integrations and developing a mindset of working together, which helps teams answer questions and build more efficiently.
Analytics such as conversion or campaign lift around attribution per channel are necessary for any omnichannel effort, but may need time to perfect. One way to address this is to incentivize sales reps and marketing teams to convert cross-channel leads or customers. Set KPIs that require reps to address online channels while they’re in-store, or encourage marketing teams to devote a certain amount of effort to attributing advertising to in-store visits.
Duan of Walgreens highlighted a Walgreens store pickup feature which was shutdown in early 2016. He explained that while it was solving a customer problem, it wasn't resulting in a significantly better sales increase than the status quo. Keep this in mind when you're implementing new features because sometimes, “no matter how many marketing dollars you pump into it, it won't be successful,” said Duan.
In addition to new in-store features, don’t just set and forget your mobile experience - make sure you’re paying off costs to an increase in sales or engagement with customers. “Mobile’s not going away,” reminded Dolian, so testing often is necessary because “you can't be a great chef without trying the food."
At the end of the day, Thomas says to be realistic about money internally when implementing new technology. Be honest and able to scope out new project costs and expected returns early on. A new product or service needs to pay for itself and if you're not expecting to see returns for a few years, consider that that technology will change dramatically!
The drive-through pharmacy at Walgreens caused an uproar with general managers who said "now [customers] won't come in!" Duan reminded retailers to ultimately “do what's best for the customer - help them get what they want and they will reward you.
"We're not trying to keep someone in-store for as long as possible, but depending on what they want, we give them the tools they need to accomplish that, whether they're browsing or want to just get in and get out.” Focusing on the long term relationship with your customers should drive all of your omnichannel efforts.
What Omnichannel tactics have you found to be successful? How do you marry in-store and digital efforts? Tell us in the comments below!