Posts Tagged ‘Retail’ and the Omnichannel Obsessed

This year’s Annual Conference was held in our own hometown of Chicago. We were delighted to participate and network with a “Who’s Who” collection of Ecommerce Executives with abounding expertise. The conference confirmed that chasing the Omnichannel customer experience is high on the list of priorities for most multichannel retailers in attendance. As a overview of what we learned we’ll stick to the highlights and a bit of generalization.

Our awards for the most discussed challenges from the Executives we spoke with were:

1) Prioritization of omnichannel efforts. Senior management and the board are  pushing hard for rapid innovation. In many cases they don’t understand some of the underlying challenges, costs, or timeline  (e.g. process change, infrastructure inefficiencies, visibility to data at a customer touch points, skill sets and training, etc) that are necessary to execute Omnichannel capabilities.

2)  The role of the ecommerce team is changing. They are being called upon to either be “all things digital” within the organization. Tapped to handle digital innovation, brand initiatives, develop the mobility strategy and grow the ecommerce business all at the same time. In these cases, the team is concerned with resources and budget to support efforts coming from multiple areas of the business that don’t necessarily impact their P&L but are now their responsibility. Additionally the Ecommerce team is being asked to be aware of the challenges that the store team is faced with Omnichannel programs.

Alternatively, the business has restructured and Ecommerce traffic driving efforts have fallen under the “digital marketing” team, which is no longer inside of the Ecommerce team. The approaching holiday season has them on high alert.  Their increasing resource needs and a necessity for marketing flexibility to meet revenue goals, without these direct resources, has them concerned.

3) Organization Design and talent acquisition remain a key hurdles in accomplishing the future vision. Fundamental questions are being posed as to “Where should Ecommerce report?”, “Who owns the marketing budget and how should it be spent?”, “How should we incentivize the store team to assure that they are digitally savvy and omnichannel advocates?”, “Who makes pricing and promotional cadence decisions and what are the guardrails associated with them?” .

Our favorite observation: With all the change and increased performance pressure Omnichannel has stirred up, Ecommerce executives appear more open to sharing insights and learning from one another again. We had several requests to connect retailers who were non competitive but focused on exploring the same issues.

Our roundtable topic “The Top 3 Myths of Omnichannel Retail”  was well attending and enlisted a robust discussion about  Omnichannel challenges and mobile efforts. Everyone was excited by Target’s Cartwheel app and it’s in store couponing using geo-fencing capability.  We handed out our Omnichannel Self Assessment Tool. We hope it helps the team’s internal discussions regarding the Omnichannel vision and to exemplify the complexity of Omnichannel execution.

We are big fans of the content brought to the industry via and this conference confirmed their dedication to topical and timely quality content. Bravo!

Cross Channel and Omnichannel Definitions

Posted: 06/26/2012 Tags: Customer Experience Ecommerce Omni-Channel Retail 

First a few words about the definition and usage of the term Omnichannel. We have been working with retailers for almost two decades on integrated channel strategies. Our belief has always been that the brick and mortar stores would become the integrated point of difference for most retailers.  We helped retailers develop their multichannel strategies when Ecommerce was new. We promoted Cross Channel retailing strategies as customer behavior changed and they began to demand an integrated and easy way to cross between selling channels. Then, Harvard Business Review wrote a game changing white paper titled “The Future of Shopping”, that coined the phrase Omnichannel.

There is no retail dictionary to validate the definition of Cross Channel and Omnichannel. In most cases, we see them used interchangeably.  Our definitions are:

  • Cross Channel Retailing is the operational interaction to drive sales, communications and supply across channels (e.g. store, website, catalog, mobile, social). We envision these integrated operations, (including human capital, content and data) to enhance the customer experience by giving her the freedom to experience the brand on her terms.
  • Omnichannel Retailing is the underlying infrastructure and processes necessary to operate and execute on Cross Channel capabilities.

To say that the future of retail will look different because of the changes Cross Channel / Omnichannel retailing will deliver is a good bet. How each retailer gets to their future will be as different as the definition of the term within the industry.