The growing need for omni-channel strategies in which store, online and mobile experiences complement, rather than compete with, one another has left many retailers feeling overwhelmed about how to market to shoppers across channels in a personal, relevant and meaningful way. This pressure is heightened by today’s shopper, who now has the expectation that – given the amount of data available about them – retailers should know them personally.
When a retailer communicates with a shopper today – whether in a physical store, online or via their mobile device – consumers expect to receive messages, deals and offers that are not only relevant to them, but are delivered at the right time and in the right channel. Some shoppers may prefer to be contacted with coupons, offers or sales notifications through their email or their phone as soon as that coupon, deal or sale is active. Some consumers may prefer to be contacted only when they are shopping and are near the store. It’s all about understanding individual consumers’ unique preferences and behaviors. However, this is a challenge for retailers if they don’t have access to the right data from all channels.
To quote Hudson’s Bay CEO Jerry Storch, ‘It’s not an omni-channel world. It’s an all-channels world.’ Today’s consumers have the power to decide when they will be communicated with, how they will be communicated with, and what content they will respond to. Understanding these preferences for the individual shopper is the key to getting ‘all channels’ to complement one another.
To solve these challenges, retailers must become more agile. An agile retailer knows how to service their customers in the way they want to be serviced.
The first thing a retailer must do to become more agile is to eliminate data silos, and make it easier for key players in the organization – specifically chief marketing officers – to access the organization’s technical back-end systems where customer data is stored. A retailer’s marketing team are the ones who are face-to-face with the customer. It’s crucial for them to have access to the customer data that will tell them when, where and how to communicate with customers, and what they should say.
The simple fact that people think of the problem as brick-and-mortar vs. digital is part of the opportunity. Smart retailers are now thinking and designing in terms of customer experience using customer journey mapping.
An inside out design is a thing of the past. Retailers need technologies to go from the customer “into” the business and leverage all the data assets as well as the investments they have made: CRM, ERP, Inventory control, CMS, etc.
And this all has to be done with good data governance, security and protection of the consumer’s privacy. Not all retailers have that expertise in-house. They need partners and technologies that can remove the friction between the consumer, the retailer and the brands they carry. Let the machines do the machine work and focus the humans on creative, customer interaction, service, store design. It’s time for a new approach, new measures — that is how retailers can protect themselves from profit erosions from retailers like Amazon.