Omnichannel Challenges – Keeping Score In A Connected Environment

Multichannel retailers are responding to the connected consumer at break neck speed. The shift in their business model demands that they work horizontally across the organization, breaking down silo’s, and developing new collaborative processes. Yet in many cases the organization of human capital, budgeting and planning, and key metrics have not aligned with their new Omnichannel  strategy.

We ask our clients to answer “Big Questions” to help illustrate the challenges that they will face in their shift to an omnichannel future.

Is it the expectation that the Ecommerce team will support “all things digital” within the business?

In some cases we see brand marketing taking on the role of social marketing and digital display for awareness building. But in most cases the Ecommerce team is still responsible to develop content, support brand campaigns on the site, develop the mobile strategy, and to help educate the Senior Team on how to leverage the digital infrastructure critical to the omnichannel future.  In many cases, they are asked to manage vendor selection, the digital roadmap and more – in addition to driving ecommerce revenue growth. Yet, when it is time to resource the “all things digital” team, the resources are based on Ecommerce revenues.  We encourage our clients to measure the influence of digital efforts on the broader business to properly resource for the Omnichannel customer experience.

In response to our suggestion to measure online influence we often hear “ We can’t always see what happens at the store and we need to understand how much of the business is incremental ”.  Our overwhelming recommendation will  save you time and effort. Don’t chase the incremental statistic – it’s difficult to prove and may only give your detractors the opportunity to poke holes in your analysis. Instead, determine your key metrics (e.g. customers who buy in multiple channels, cross channel customer satisfaction ratings, number of hits on the store locator or who redeem coupon codes at the store, incremental sales from “pick up in store” orders). Track what you can to develop a benchmark and look for growth.  Report progress to the broad management team and reward positive influencers.  This will help you align disparate teams to work together better.

When the time comes to add resources pay close attention to the skillsets that are needed to drive those customers across channels.  Sometimes it is as simple as adding more copy and creative talent. Sometimes it means reducing the administrative workload of Senior resources by bringing in support personnel.  Other times it is developing a core competency in an area you have been outsourcing and the new positions will require acquiring high level specialized skill sets. With the changing role of the digital team, make sure to support growth by getting the necessary resources to deliver the customer experience you envision.

Are you willing to track and reward store associates for online revenue increases in their store’s trading area?

We are asking store associates to become digital evangelists but in many cases we don’t reward them for contributing to the increase in online sales in their store’s trading areas. Or on adding incremental sales for in store pick up orders.  In many cases we ask them to learn more about an extended online offering but don’t give them incentive or “time on the clock” to do so. The Container Store is an omnichannel best practice leader that allows store staff to train and learn about digital advancements “on the clock”, and this shows in their excellent store execution.  Our research has confirmed that tracking and sharing online revenue within the store’s trading areas has been a game changer for most retailers.

Incentivize the behaviors you want to build upon.

Until retailers are at a point where we can look at sales in a holistic manner and reward people across channels for behaviors we want to reinforce, we will struggle with the omnichannel customer experience.  Understanding that organizations will evolve, measurement tools will improve and new processes will replace old ones suggests our success metrics need to evolve too.  Develop a plan to measure, report, and reward your team to support a digitally connected environment and you will lessen the friction that comes with change management.