Clearing up misconceptions in omni-channel retailing

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Jennifer Friedberg, managing partner, consumer products & retail, Rosetta
Jennifer Friedberg, managing partner, consumer products & retail, Rosetta

If you're a retailer, you likely have visions of omni-channel running through your brain at this point. If you're just returning from Shop.org like me, it was something that retailers attending the event couldn't escape. Nor should you. But, when exploring ideas about how you can differentiate in the era of omni-channel retailing, keep in mind these misconceptions about what an omni-channel approach for retailers really means.

Purchase a major analytics system and voila, you're an omni-channel retailer

Making an investment in a large-scale analytics system definitely makes sense for many retailers, especially given the sheer amount of data that's presented daily. Yes, you'll have a better handle on how to cope with Big Data issues so that real customer insights emerge, but now what? Purchasing such a system doesn't automatically make a retailer a leader in the omni-channel world. The real value comes from turning these insights into action.

Company culture isn't a factor

Wrong! All the rhetoric and investment in omni-channel retailing in the world won't guarantee success unless there's a seismic shift in a company's culture. Becoming an omni-channel retailer requires teamwork, fresh approaches to merchandising, revamping the logistics pipeline, and other changes, based on a unified approach needed to support a customer-centric operation. Is your organization ready?

Technology is “only” a facilitator

The reality is just the opposite. Having reliable technology solutions in place, and maximizing their benefits, is more important than ever. Yes, retailing still needs the personal touch, including expertise, intuition, and empathy with your customers. But it needs to be accompanied by a technology solution and partner that will creatively respond to omni-channel retailing's still evolving demands.

Your customers shop all channels in the same way

The statement above couldn't be more wrong. Yes, mining big data enables you to see what and how customers are acting in a connected, cross-device world—and generates a lot of actionable information, including better identifying your customers. Yet, even armed with such information, a one-size-fits-all approach simply won't work. Are your customer segments the same across all channels? Doubtful. Are their expectations and motivations perfectly in sync? Not likely. This is actually where the numbers must mesh with real creativity, to create engaging, compelling experiences that resonate with specific customer segments using specific platforms to engage with your brand, and at various points in the decision-making process.

The age of branding is over

What? The reality is that in the age of omni-channel retailing, branding and brand consistency are more critical than ever. It's only those strong brands that can truly maintain their identity across all of these touchpoints and transactional channels that will endure.

The old KPIs still work

Ha, nope. Yes, such measures as sales per square foot, average purchase transaction, and of course, gross and net margins will also be part of the reporting arsenal. However, new measurements need to be in place, along with new processes to allow all areas of the organization ready access to real-time, actionable data.

About the Author: Jennifer Friedberg is managing partner, Consumer Products & Retail, at Rosetta, an independent brand within Publicis Groupe.

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