Marketers Are Slackers When it Comes to Omnichannel

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Still too much batch-and-blast and too little real-time personalization, says an SAP e-com exec.

Charles Nicholls, SVP of product strategy for SAP's Hybris software unit
Charles Nicholls, SVP of product strategy for SAP's Hybris software unit

Despite all their talk about multiple channel strategies and personalization, retail marketers are not walking the walk. In fact, according to an SAP customer engagement executive, they are mostly still learning to crawl.

“There's way too much batching and blasting still going on. They‘re just so slack and lazy and they spend so much money that‘s just wasted.” said Charles Nicholls, SVP of product strategy for SAP's Hybris software unit, in a panel discussion at the National Retail Federation show in New York yesterday. “They get permission to market to someone, but are they doing it when he's in buying mode? No? Then they should just leave him alone and they'll make more money.”

In their defense, Nicholls allowed that marketers are still waiting for the toolsets they'll need to effectively market to individuals on a one-to-one basis across all channels. He cited an SAP study done last year that indicated no two customer journeys are the same and that building customer segments to inform omnichannel campaigns is a losing proposition.

“You don't need Big Data to do this, you need little data to get to an effective point of relevance with customers. Some analytics companies don't have experience with customers at all; they look at all [customers within a segment] as the same. So until we get next-generation tools, we'll all struggle,” Nicholls said.

Even when the tools arrive marketers will still face the hurdle of waiting for omnichannel thinking to take over their companies' strategic directions. “Organizations operate by channels. Online and email do this, mobile does that,” said panelist Ramiya Iyer, VP of e-commerce technology for Levi's. “They have to start looking at omnichannel as  all channels working together, one channel intertwined.”

Fellow panelist Stefano Goglio, head of B2C commerce for Nespresso, agreed that organizational transformation was essential for multichannel success. “Most important is that you have to have the organization ready to face the change that will come with improved technological tools.”

Added Iyer: “E-commerce is growing, and the entire organization comes together on it. It's not a marketing event, it's a co-made event.”

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