Tag Archives: Omnichannel
This article was originally posted on Argyle CMO Journal and is re-posted here with permission.
According to a new global study from SDL, 90% of consumers expect a consistent customer experience across channels and devices when they interact with brands. However, according to these survey results, Gartner Survey Finds Importance of Customer Experience on the Rise — Marketing is on the Hook, fewer than half of the companies surveyed rank their customer experience as exceptional today. The good news is that two-thirds expect it to be exceptional in two years. In fact, 89% plan to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience by 2016.
So, what role do CMOs play in delivering omnichannel customer experiences?
According to a recent report, Gartner’s Executive Summary for Leadership Accountability and Credibility within the C-Suite, a high percentage of CEOs expect CMOs to lead the integrated cross-functional customer experience. Also, customer experience is one of the top three areas of investment for CMOs in the next two years.
I had the pleasure of participating on a panel discussion at the Argyle CMO Forum in Dallas a few months ago. It focused on the emergence of omnichannel and the need to deliver seamless, integrated and consistent customer experiences across channels.
Lisa Zoellner, Chief Marketing Officer of Golfsmith International, was the dynamic moderator, kept the conversation lively, and the audience engaged. I was a panelist alongside:
- Chris Brogan, Senior Vice President, Strategy & Analysis,Hyatt Hotels & Resorts
• Chris Berg, Vice President, Store Operations, The Home Depot
• Chip Burgard, Senior Vice President, Marketing, CitiMortgage
Below are some highlights from the panel.
Lisa Zoellner, CMO, Golfsmith International opened the panel with a statistic. “Fifty-five percent of marketers surveyed feel they are playing catch up to customer expectations. But in that gap is a big opportunity.”
What is your definition of omnichannel?
There was consensus among the group that omnichannel is about seeing your business through the eyes of your customer and delivering seamless, integrated and consistent customer experiences across channels.
Customers don’t think in terms of channels and touch points; they just expect seamless, integrated and consistent customer experiences. It’s one brand to the customer. But there is a gap between customer expectations and what most businesses can deliver today.
In fact, executives at most organizations I’ve spoken with, including the panelists, believe they are in the very beginning stages of their journey towards delivering omnichannel customer experiences. The majority are still struggling to get a single view of customers, products and inventory across channels.
“Customers don’t think in terms of channels and touch points; they just expect seamless, integrated and consistent customer experiences.”
What are some of the core challenges standing in your way?
A key takeaway was that omnichannel requires organizations to fundamentally change how they do business. In particular, it requires changing existing business practices and processes. It cannot be done without cross-functional collaboration.
I think Chris Berg, VP, Store Operations at The Home Depot said it well, “One of the core challenges is the annual capital allocation cycle, which makes it difficult for organizations to be nimble. Most companies set strategies and commitments 12-24 months out and approach these strategies in silos. Marketing, operations, and merchandising teams typically ask for capital separately. Rarely does this process start with asking the question, ‘What is the core strategy we want to align ourselves around over the next 24 months?’ If you begin there and make a single capital allocation request to pursue that strategy, you remove one of the largest obstacles standing in the way.”
Chip Burgard, Senior Vice President of Marketing at CitiMortgage focused on two big barriers. “The first one is a systems barrier. I know a lot of companies struggle with this problem. We’re operating with a channel-centric rather than a customer-centric view. Now that we need to deliver omnichannel customer experiences, we realize we’re not as customer-centric as we thought we were. We need to understand what products our customers have across lines-of-business such as, credit cards, banking, investments and mortgage. But, our systems weren’t providing a total customer relationship view across products and channels. Now, we’re making progress on that. The second barrier is compensation. We have a commission-based sales force. How do you compensate the loan officers if a customer starts the transaction with the call center but completes it in the branch? That’s another issue we’re working on.”
Lisa Zoellner, CMO at Golfsmith International added, “I agree that compensation is a big barrier. Companies need to rethink their compensation plans. The sticky question is ‘Who gets credit for the sale?’ It’s easy to say that you’re channel-agnostic, but when someone’s paycheck is tied to the performance of a particular channel, it makes it difficult to drive that type of culture change.”
“We have a complicated business. More than 500 Hyatt hotels and resorts span multiple brands and regions,” said Chris Brogan, SVP of Strategy and Analytics at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. “But, customers want a seamless experience no matter where they travel. They expect that the preference they shared during their Hyatt stay at a hotel in Singapore is understood by the person working at the next hotel in Dallas. So, we’re bridging those traditional silos all the way down to the hotel. A guest doesn’t care if the person they’re interacting with is from the building engineering department, from the food and beverage department, or the rooms department. It’s all part of the same customer experience. So we’re looking at how we share the information that’s important to guests to keep the customer the focus of our operations.”
“We’re working together collectively to meet our customers’ needs across the channels they are using to engage with us.”
How are companies powering great customer experiences with great customer data?
Chris Brogan, SVP of Strategy and Analytics at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, said, “We’re going through a transformation to unleash our colleagues to deliver great customer experiences at every stage of the guest journey. Our competitive differentiation comes from knowing our customers better than our competitors. We manage our customer data like a strategic asset so we can use that information to serve customers better and build loyalty for our brand.”
Hyatt connects the fragmented customer data from numerous applications including sales, marketing, ecommerce, customer service and finance. They bring the core customer profiles together into a single, trusted location, where they are continually managed. Now their customer profiles are clean, de-duplicated, enriched, and validated. They can see the members of a household as well as the connections between corporate hierarchies. Business and analytics applications are fueled with this clean, consistent and connected information so customer-facing teams can do their jobs more effectively and hotel teams can extend simple, meaningful gestures that drive guest loyalty.
When he first joined Hyatt, Chris did a search for his name in the central customer database and found 13 different versions of himself. This included the single Chris Brogan who lived across the street from Wrigley Field with his buddies in his 20s and the Chris Brogan who lives in the suburbs with his wife and two children. “I can guarantee those two guys want something very different from a hotel stay. Mostly just sleep now,” he joked. Those guest profiles have now been successfully consolidated.
This solid customer data foundation means Hyatt colleagues can more easily personalize a guest’s experience. For example, colleagues at the front desk are now able to use the limited check-in time to congratulate a new Diamond member on just achieving the highest loyalty program tier or offer a better room to those guests most likely to take them up on the offer and appreciate it.
According to Chris, “Successful marketing, sales and customer experience initiatives need to be built on a solid customer data foundation. It’s much harder to execute effectively and continually improve if your customer data is not in order.”
How are you shifting from channel-centric to customer-centric?
Chip Burgard, SVP of Marketing at CitiMortgage answered, “In the beginning of our omnichannel journey, we were trying to allow customer choice through multi-channel. Our whole organization was designed around people managing different channels. But, we quickly realized that allowing separate experiences that a customer can choose from is not being customer-centric.
Now we have new sales leadership that understands the importance of delivering seamless, integrated and consistent customer experiences across channels. And they are changing incentives to drive that customer-centric behavior. We’re no longer holding people accountable specifically for activity in their channels. We’re working together collectively to meet our customers’ needs across the channels they are using to engage with us.”
Chris Berg, VP of Store Operations at The Home Depot, explained, “For us, it’s about transitioning from a store-centric to customer-centric approach. It’s a cultural change. The managers of our 2,000 stores have traditionally been compensated based on their own store’s performance. But we are one brand. For example in the future, a store may be fulfilling an order, however because of the geography of where the order originated they may not receive credit for the sale. We’re in the process of working through how to better reward that collaboration. Also, we’re making investments in our systems so they support an omnichannel, or what we call interconnected, business. We have 40,000 products in store and over 1,000,000 products online. Now that we’re on the interconnected journey, we’re rethinking how we manage our product information so we can better manage inventory across channels more effectively and efficiently.”
Omnichannel is all about shifting from channel-centric to customer-centric – much more customer-centric than you are today. Knowing who your customers are and having a view of products and inventory across channels are the basic requirements to delivering exceptional customer experiences across channels and touch points.
This is not a project. A business transformation is required to empower people to deliver omnichannel customer experiences. The executive team needs to drive it and align compensation and incentives around it. A collaborative cross-functional approach is needed to achieve it.
Omnichannel depends on customer-facing teams such as marketing, sales and call centers to have access to a total customer relationship view based on clean, consistent and connected customer, product and inventory information. This is the basic foundation needed to deliver seamless, integrated and consistent customer experiences across channels and touch points and improve their effectiveness.
80% of companies surveyed said that they offer superior customer service, but only 8% of their customers agreed with them. (Source: Bain & Company)
With numbers like that there is plenty of room to improve. But improve what?
Traditionally retailers have measured themselves against year over year increase in sales for like-stores, increased margins and lower operating costs. But, retailing has changed, customers can interact and transact with you across multiple touch points along their path to purchase and beyond. Poor performance at any one of these interaction points could lose you a customer and damage your brand.
A better measure is to calculate the customer experience across the omni-channel landscape. This will provide better insight into how you are attracting and retaining customers, and how well you are serving them. However, many retailers lack the technology and processes to deliver on a plan to improve the omni-channel customer experience.
Once you have decided to do something, what are you going to measure? Is it time spent on website versus sales? Speed to resolve problems in contact center versus number of repeat transactions from customer? Number of touch points before purchase? But what about the softer measures like how well your staff interact with customers in-store or social channels? How many “Pins” you have, or how do you assign value to them?
Organizations need to account for (CHURN, ATTRITION, LOYALTY and LIFETIME VALUE) to be able to evaluate their performance from a holistic view of their customer, not just in the confines of their own operational silo.
In an up and coming webinar Arkady Kleyner, from Intricity will break apart key components of the Omni-Channel Customer Experience calculation. Additionally, Arkady will identify the upstream components that keep this measure accurate and current.
Attend this webinar to learn:
- The foundational calculations of Omni-Channel Customer Experience
- Common customizations to fit different scenarios
- Upstream components to keep the calculation current and accurate
- Register here to receive a calendar invitation with the webinar details.
- Join us for a 1 hour webinar and Q/A session. The event will occur March 19th at 2:00PM EST.
In my point of view, heavily influenced by the customers and analyst I am meeting, these 5 trends are impacting omnichannel commerce for better personalization and customer experience in 2015 and beyond.
- Issue of the informed purchase journey: A Google study (*Google ZMOT Handbook) shows that, on average, across all categories, shoppers use 10.4 sources of information to make a decision. This includes, among other things, watching TV ads, looking up manufacturer websites, talking to family and friends, reading reviews, and checking Amazon. Customers are increasingly visiting websites across multiple devices, and the final location where they make a purchase can be very different from the initial point of interaction. When do they have enough information to buy?
- Three levels of Trust : Customer expect three levels of trust – SOCIAL TRUST, PRODUCT TRUST and BRAND TRUST. Social trust: means what do my friends recommend? Conversions go up by 133%* when trusted people recommend products. Brands and retailers can sell more with relevant information, including social data (aggregating and reusing). Sorry but this is again one more votum for tanking BIG DATA seriously. I believe customer-centric organizations are going to use a combination of data management and big data analytics to improve the quality and accelerate the business value of their big data projects. In particular, companies will apply these capabilities to greatly improve their ability to acquire, retain and grow their customer share of wallet with more personalized marketing. For example, one insurance company we work wants to better understand their customers, household and prospects through real-time customer and prospect profiling on Hadoop. This data management and big data analytics initiative will improve their marketing campaign effectiveness by targeting specific people with relevant offers. They will be able to answer questions such as:
- How many of these people are customers vs. prospects?
- Who else lives in this household?
- Which products do they already have?
- What relationships do they have with other customers, beneficiaries, prospects, agents?
- Which offers have they responded to that we sent them in the past?
- What life events, changes to address, income or employment have they experienced?
- Which customers are likely to churn?
Product trust: which products shall we offer for which price? Or the customer wants to know if he buys the latest version of the digital radio or the cable. Companies need quicker insights for taking decisions on their assortment, prices and compelling contentr and for better customer facing service.
Brand trust: the brand experience is so important. Brands and retailers need to be more efficient when creating market ready products, with videos, content and all what creates emotions.
3. Store fulfillment & in-store experience will become a big investment area, and retailers will look to omni-channel solutions that can provide provide transparency into inventory to help manage customer expectations. Use the store as warehouse and ship from the nearest store. The use if digital devices and information panels will gain much more attention. Gartner predicts that by year-end 2016 more than $2 billion in online shopping will be performed exclusively by mobile digital assistants.
4. The mobile conversion: revenue spend on mobile is growing. Forrester Research projects sales from consumers shopping on mobile phones will increase to $38 billion this year and sales from tablets will hit $76 billion, or about $114 billion in total in the US. Most Online Shopping Still Happens on PCs. 95% of smartphone users say they’ve searched for local information. 90% of those users take action within 24 hours. 61% of smartphone users called a business after searching. 59% visited a local business after searching. But conversions on mobile devices need to be improved. With better and more relevant information – I call it commerce relevancy.
5. Virtual Reality is taking customer experience to the next level. Augmented reality was a first step, but I believe virtual reality (VR) will take it even further. I learned from my colleague Nicholas Goupil, that Samsung Gear by Oculus VR and similar products will change the game of gaming. What are the potentials for brands and retailers to enhance customer experience?
What are your expectations on 2015 omnichannel trends?
Let’s chat @benrund or face-to-face during NRF in NYC.
Established in Northwestern United States, North 40 Outfitters, a family owned and operated business, has been outfitting the hardworking and hard playing populace of the region. Understanding the diverse needs of its customers, hardworking people, North 40 Outfitters carries everything from fencing for cattle and livestock to tools and trailers. They have gear for camping and hunting—even fly fishing.
Named after the Homestead Act of 1862, an event with strong significance in the region, North 40 Outfitters heritage is built on its community involvement and support of local small businesses. The company’s 700 employees could be regarded as family. At this year’s Thanksgiving, every employee was given a locally raised free range turkey to bring home. Furthermore, true to Black Friday’s shopping experience, North 40 Outfitters opened its door. Eschewing the regular practice of open as early as 3 AM, North 40 Outfitters opened at the reasonable 7 o’clock hour. They offered patrons donuts as well as coffee obtained from a local roaster.
North 40 Outfitters aims to be different. They achieve differentiation by being data driven. While the products they sell cannot be sourced exclusively from local sources, their experience aims to do exactly that.
Prior to operating under the name North 40 Outfitters, the company ran under the banner of “Big R”, which was shared with several other members of the same buying group. The decision to change the name to North 40 Outfitters was the result of a move into the digital realm— they needed a name to distinguish themselves. Now as North 40 Outfitters, they can focus on what matters rather than having to deal with the confusion of a shared name. They would now provide the “local store” experience, while investing in their digital strategy as a means to do business online and bring the unique North 40 Outfitters experience and value nationwide.
With those organizational changes taking place, lay an even greater challenge. With over 150,000 SKUs and no digital database for their product information, North 40 Outfitters had to find a solution and build everything from the ground up. Moreover, with customers demanding a means to buy products online, especially customers living in rural areas, it became clear that North 40 Outfitters would have to address its data concerns.
Along with the fresh rebrand and restructure, North 40 Outfitters needed to tame their product information situation, a critical step conducive to building their digital product database and launching their ecommerce store.
North 40 Outfitters was clear about the outcome of the recent rebranding and they knew that investments needed to be taken if they were to add value to their existing business. Building the capabilities to take their business to new channels, ecommerce in this case, meant finding the best solution to start on the right foot. Consequently, wishing to become master of their own data, for both online and in-store uses, North 40 Outfitters determined that they needed a PIM application that would act as a unique data information repository.
It’s important to note that North 40 Outfitters environment is not typical to that of traditional retailers. The difference can be found in the large variation of product type they sell. Some of their suppliers have local, boutique style production scales, while some are large multi-national distributors. Furthermore, a large portion of North 40 Outfitters customers live in rural regions, in some cases their stores are a day’s drive away. With the ability to leverage both a PIM and an ecommerce solution North 40 Outfitters is now a step closer to outfitting everyone in the Northwestern region.
It is still very early to talk about results, since North 40 Outfitters has only recently entered the implementation phase. What can be said is that they are very excited. Having reclaimed their territory, and equipped with a PIM solution and an ecommerce solution they have all the right tools to till and plow the playing field.
The meaning of North 40 Outfitters
To the uninitiated the name North 40 Outfitters might not mean much. However, there is a lot of local heritage and history standing behind this newly rebranded name. North 40 is derived from the Homestead Act of 1862. The Act refers to the “North forty”, to the Northern most block of the homesteader’s property. To this day, this still holds significance to the local community. The second half of the brand: “Outfitters” is about the company’s focus on the company ability to outfit its customers both for work and play. On the one hand, you can visit North 40 Outfitters to purchase goods aimed at running your ranch, such as fencing material, horse related goods or quality tools. At the same time, you can buy camping and backpacking goods—they even sell ice fishing huts.
North 40 Outfitters ensures their customers have what they need to work the land, get back from it and ultimately go out and play just as hard if not harder.
In his recent article: “The catalog is dead – long live the catalog,” Informatica’s Ben Rund spoke about how printed catalogs are positioned as a piece of the omnichannel puzzle and are a valuable touch point on the connected customer’s informed purchase journey. The overall response was far greater than what we could have hoped for; we would like to thank all those that participated. Seeing how much interest this topic generated, we decided to investigate further, in order to find out which factors can help in making print publishing successful.
5 key Factors for Successful Print Publishing Projects
Today’s digital world impacts every facet of our lives. Deloitte recently reported that approximately 50% of purchases are influenced by our digital environment. Often, companies have no idea how much savings can be generated through the production of printed catalogues that leverage pre-existing data sources. The research at www.pim-roi.com talks of several such examples. After looking back at many successful projects, Michael and his team realized the potential to generate substantial savings when the focus is to
optimize “time to market.” (If, of course, business teams operate asynchronously!)
For this new blog entry, we interviewed Michael Giesen, IT Consultancy and Project Management at Laudert to get his thoughts and opinion on the key factors behind the success of print publishing projects. We asked Michael to share his experience and thoughts on the leading factors in running successful print publishing projects. Furthermore, Michael also provides insight on which steps to prioritize and which pitfalls to avoid at all costs, in order to ensure the best results.
1. Publication Analysis
How are objects in print (like products) structured today? What about individual topics and design of creative pages? How is the placement of tables, headings, prices and images organized nowadays? Are there standards? If so, what can be standardized and how? To get an overall picture, you have to thoroughly examine these points. You must do so for all the content elements involved in the layout, ensuring that, in the future, they can be used for Dynamic Publishing. It is conceivable that individual elements, such as titles or pages used in subject areas, could be excluded and reused in separate projects. Gaining the ability to automate catalog creation potentially requires to compromise in certain areas. We shall discuss this later. In the future, product information will probably be presented with very little need to apply changes, 4 instead of 24 table types, for example. Great, now we are on the right path!
2. Data Source Analysis
Where is the data used in today’s printed material being sourced from? If possible or needed, are there several data sources that require to be combined? How is pricing handled? What about product attributes or the structure of product description tables in the case of an individual item? Is all the marketing content and subsequent variations included as well? What about numerous product images or multiple languages? What about seasonally adjusted texts that pull from external sources?
This case requires a very detailed analysis, leading us to the following question:
What is the role and the value of storing product information using a standardized method in print publishing?
The benefits of utilizing such processes should be clear by now: The more standards are in place, the greater the amount of time you will save and the greater your ability to generate positive ROI. Companies that currently operate with complex systems supporting well-structured data are already ahead in the game. Furthermore, yielding positive results doesn’t necessarily require them to start from scratch and rebuild from the ground up. As a matter of fact, companies that have already invested in database systems (E.g. MSSQL) can leverage their existing infrastructures.
3. Process Analysis
In this section of our analysis, we will be getting right down to the details: What does the production process look like, from the initial layout phase to the final release process? Who is responsible for the “how? Who maintains the linear progression? Who has the responsibilities and release rights? Lastly, where are the bottlenecks? Are there safeguards mechanisms in place? Once all these roles and processes have been put in place and have received the right resources we can advance to the next step of our analysis. You are ready to tackle the next key factor: Implementation.
Here you should be adventurous, creative and open minded, seeing that compromise might be needed. If your existing data sources do not meet the requirements, a solution must be found! A certain technical creative pragmatism may facilitate the short and medium planning (see point 2). You must extract and prepare your data sources for printed medium, such as a catalog, for example. The priint:suite of WERK II has proven itself as a robust all-round solution for Database Publishing and Web2Print. All-inclusive PIM solutions, such as Informatica PIM, already has a standard interface to priint:suite available. Depending on the specific requirements, an important decision must then be made: Is there a need for an InDesign Server? Simply put, it enables the fully automatic production of large-volume objects and offers accurate data preview. While slightly less featured, the use of WERK II PDF renderers offers similar functionalities but at a significantly more affordable price.
Based on the software and interfaces selected, an optimized process which supports your system can be developed and be structured to be fully automated if needed.
For individual groups of goods, templates can be defined, placeholders and page layouts developed. Production can start!
5. Selecting an Implementation Partner
In order to facilitate a smooth transition from day one, the support of a partner to carry out the implementation should be considered from the beginning. Since not only technology, but more importantly practical expertise provides maximum process efficiency, it is recommended that you inquire about a potential partner’s references. Getting insight from existing customers will provide you with feedback about their experience and successes. Any potential partner will be pleased to put you in touch with their existing customers.
What are Your Key Factors for Successful Print Publishing?
I would like to know what your thoughts are on this topic. Has anyone tried PDF renderers other than WERK II, such as Codeware’s XActuell? Furthermore, if there are any other factors you think are important in managing successful print publishing, feel free to mention them in the comments here. I’d be happy to discuss here or on twitter at @nicholasgoupil.
Are you a manager dedicated to fashion, B2C or retail? This blog provides an overview what companies can learn on omnichannel from SportScheck.
SportScheck is one of Germany’s most successful multichannel businesses. SportScheck (btw Ventana Research Innovation Award Winner) is an equipment and clothing specialist for almost every sport and its website gets over 52 million hits per year, making it one of the most successful online stores in Germany.
Each year, more than million customers sign up for the mail-order business while over 17 million customers visit its brick and mortar stores (Source). These figures undoubtedly describe the success of SportScheck’s multichannel strategy. SportScheck also strives to deliver innovative concepts in all of its sales channels, while always aiming to provide customers with the best shopping experience possible. This philosophy can be carried out only in conjunction with modern systems landscapes and optimized processes.
Complete, reliable, and attractive information – across every channel – is the key to a great customer experience and better sales. It’s hard to keep up with customer demands in a single channel, much less multiple channels. Download The Informed Purchase Journey. The Informed Purchase Journey requires the right product, to right customer at the right place. Enjoy the video!
What is the Business Initiative in SportScheck
- Providing the customer the same deals across all sales channels with a centralized location for all product information
- Improve customer service in all sales channels with perfect product data
- Make sure customers have enough product information to make a purchase without the order being returned
Intelligent and Agile Processes are Key to Success
“Good customer service, whether online, in-store, or in print, needs perfect product data” said Alexander Pischetsrieder in an interview. At the Munich-based sporting goods retailer, there had been no centralized system for product data before now. After extensive research and evaluation, the company decided to implement the product information management (PIM) system from Informatica.
The main reason for the introduction of Informatica Product Information Management (PIM) solutions was its support for a true multichannel strategy. Customers should have access to the same deals across all sales channels. In addition to making a breadth of information available, customer service still remains key.
In times where information is THE killer app, key challenges are, keeping information up to date and ensuring efficient processes. In a retail scenario, product catalog onboarding starts with PIM to get the latest product information. A dataset in the relevant systems that is always up-to-date is a further basis, which allows companies to react immediately to market movements and implement marketing requirements as quickly as possible. Data must be exchanged between the systems practically in real time. If you want to learn more details, how SportScheck solved the technical integration between SAP ERP and Informatica PIM?
Product Data Equals Demonstrated Expertise
“I am convinced that a well-presented product with lots of pictures and details sells better. For us, this signals knowing our product. That sets us apart from the large discount stores,” notes Alexander Pischetsrieder. “In the end, we have to ask: who is the customer going to trust? We gain trust here with our product knowledge and our love of sports in general.” Just like our motto says, “We get our fans excited.” By offering a professional search engine, product comparisons, and many other features, PIM adds value not only in ecommerce – and that gets us excited!”
Benefits for SportScheck
- Centralized location for all product information across all sales channels
- An agile system that is capable of interweaving the different retail processes across sales channels into a smooth, cross-channel function
- Self-Service portal for agencies and suppliers with direct upload to the PIM system
PS: This blog is based on the PIM case study on SportScheck.
The Catalog is Dead.
According to the Multi Channel Merchant Outlook 2014 survey, the eCommerce website (not a surprise ;-)) is the top channel through which merchants market (90%). The social media (87.2%) and email (83%) channels follow close behind. Although catalogs may have dropped as a marketing tool, 51.7% of retailers said they still use the catalog to market their brands.
Source: MCM Outlook 2014
The Changing Role of the Catalog
Merchants are still using catalogs to sell products. However, their role has changed from transactional to sales tool. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important, merchant respondents said that using catalogs as mobile traffic drivers and custom retention tools were the most important activities (both scored an 8.25). At 7.85, web traffic driver was a close third.
Source: MCM Outlook 2014
Long Live the Catalog: Prospecting
More than three-quarters of merchant respondents said catalogs were the top choice for the method of prospecting they will use in the next 12 months (77.7%). Catalog was the most popular answer, followed by Facebook (68%), email (66%), Twitter (42.7%) and Pinterest (40.8%).
What is your point of view?
How have catalogs changed in your business? What are your plans and outlook for 2015? It would be very interesting to hear points of views from different industries and countries… I’d be happy to discuss here or on Twitter @benrund. My favorite fashion retailer keeps sending me a stylish catalog, which makes me order online. Brands, retailer, consumer – how do you act, what do you expect?
I was recently searching for fishing rods for my 5-year old son and his friends to use at our neighborhood pond. I know nothing about fishing, so I needed to get educated. First up, a Google search on my laptop at home. Then, I jostled between my phone, tablet and laptop visiting websites, reading descriptions, looking at photos and reading reviews. Offline, I talked to friends and visited local stores recently, searching for fishing rods for my 5-year old son and his friends to use at our neighborhood pond. I know nothing about fishing, so I needed to get educated. First up, a Google search on my laptop at home. Then, I jostled between my phone, tablet and laptop visiting websites, reading descriptions, looking at photos and reading reviews. Offline, I talked to friends and visited local stores.
This blog post initially appeared on CMSwire.com and is reblogged here with their consent.
The product descriptions weren’t very helpful. What is a “practice casting plug”? Turns out, this was a great feature! Instead of a hook, the rod had a rubber fish to practice casting safely. What a missed opportunity for the retailers who didn’t share this information. I bought the fishing rods from the retailer that educated me with valuable product information and offered free three to five day shipping.
What does this mean for companies who sell products across multiple channels?
Virtually everyone is a cross-channel shopper: 95 percent of consumers frequently or at least occasionally shop a retailer’s website and store, according to the “Omni-Channel Insights” study by CFI Group. In the report, “The Omnichannel Opportunity: Unlocking the Power of the Connected Customer,” Deloitte predicts more than 50 percent of in-store purchases will be influenced digitally by the end of 2014.
Because of all this crosschannel activity, a new term is trending: omnichannel
What Does Omnichannel Mean?
Let’s take a look back in time. Retailers started with one channel — the brick-and-mortar store. Then they introduced the catalog and call center. Then they built another channel — e-Commerce. Instead of making it an extension of the brick-and-mortar experience, many implemented an independent strategy, including operations, resources, technology and inventory. Retailers recently started integrating brick-and-mortar and e-Commerce channels, but it’s not always consistent. And now they are building another channel — mobile sites and apps.
Multichannel is a retailer-centric, transaction-focused view of operations. Each channel operates and aims to boost sales independently. Omnichannel is a customer-centric view. The goal is to understand through which channels customers want to engage at each stage of the shopping journey and enable a seamless, integrated and consistent brand experience across channels and devices.
Shoppers expect an omnichannel experience, but delivering it efficiently isn’t easy. Those responsible for enabling an omnichannel experience are encountering barriers. Let’s look at the three barriers most relevant for marketing, merchandising, sales, customer experience and information management leaders.
Barrier #1: Shift from product-centric to customer-centric view
Many retailers focus on how many products are sold by channel. Three key questions are:
- How can we drive store sales growth?
- How can we drive online sales growth?
- What’s our mobile strategy?
This is the old way of running a retail business. The new way is analyzing customer data to understand how they are engaging and transacting across channels.
Why is this difficult? At the Argyle eCommerce Leadership Forum, Vice President of Multichannel at GameStop Corp Jason Allen shared the $8.8 billion video game retailer’s approach to overcoming this barrier. While online represents 3 percent of sales, no one measured how much the online channel was influencing overall business.
They started by collecting customer data for analytics to find out who their customers were and how they interacted with Game Stop online and in 6,600 stores across 15 countries. The analysis revealed customers used multiple channels: 60 percent engaged on the web, and 26 percent of web visitors who didn’t buy online bought in-store within 48 hours.
This insight changed the perception of the online channel as a small contributor. Now they use two metrics to measure performance. While the online channel delivers 3 percent of sales, it influences 22 percent of overall business.
Take Action: Start collecting customer data. Analyze it. Learn who your customers are. Find out how they engage and transact with your business across channels.
Barrier #2: Shift from fragmented customer data to centralized customer data everyone can use
Nikki Baird, Managing Partner at Retail Systems Research (RSR), told me she believes the fundamentals of retail are changing from “right product, right price, right place, right time” to:
- Who is my customer?
- What are they trying to accomplish?
- How can we help?
According to RSR, creating a consistent customer experience remains the most valued capability for retailers, but 54 percent indicated their biggest inhibitor was not having a single view of the customer across channels.
Why is this difficult? A $12 billion specialty retailer known for its relentless focus on customer experience, with 200 stores and an online channel had to overcome this barrier. To deliver a high-touch omnichannel experience, they needed to replace the many views of the customer with one unified customer view. They invested in master data management (MDM) technology and competencies.
Now they bring together customer, employee and product data scattered across 30 applications (e.g., e-Commerce, POS, clienteling, customer service, order management) into a central location, where it’s managed and shared on an ongoing basis. Employees’ applications are fueled with clean, consistent and connected customer data. They are able to deliver a high-touch omnichannel experience because they can answer important questions about customers and their valuable relationships, such as:
- Who is this customer and who’s in their household?
- Who do they buy for, what do they buy, where do they buy?
- Which employees do they typically buy from in store?
Take Action: Think of the valuable information customers share when they interact with different parts of your business. Tap into it by bridging customer information silos. Bring fragmented customer information together in one central location. Make it universally accessible. Don’t let it remain locked up in departmental applications. Keep it up-to-date. Automate the process of updating customer information across departmental applications.
Barrier #3: Shift from fragmented product data to centralized product data everyone can use
Two-thirds of purchase journeys start with a Google search. To have a fighting chance, retailers need rich and high quality product information to rank higher than the competition.
Take a look at the image on the left. Would you buy this product? Probably not. One-third of shoppers who don’t make a purchase didn’t have enough information to make a purchase decision. What product information does a shopper need to convert in the moment? Rich, high quality information has conversion power.
Consumers return about 40 percent of all fashion and 15 percent of electronics purchases. That’s not good for retailers or shoppers. Minimize costly returns with complete product information so shoppers can make more informed purchase decisions. Jason Allen’s advice is, “Focus less on the cart and check out. Focus more on search, product information and your store locator. Eighty percent of customers are coming to the web for research.”
Why is this difficult? Crestline is a multichannel direct marketing firm selling promotional products through direct mail and e-Commerce. The barrier to quickly bringing products to market and updating product information across channels was fragmented and complex product information. To replace the manual, time consuming spreadsheet process to manage product information, they invested in product information management (PIM) technology.
Now Crestline’s product introduction and update process is 300 percent more efficient. Because they are 100 percent current on top products and over 50 percent current for all products, the company is boosting margins and customer service.
Take Action: Think about all the product information shoppers need to research and make a decision. Tap into it by bridging product information silos. Bring fragmented product information together in one central location. Make it universally usable, not channel-specific. Keep it up-to-date. Automate the process of publishing product information across channels, including the applications used by customer service and store associates.
Delivering an omnichannel experience efficiently isn’t easy. The Game Stop team collected and analyzed customer data to learn more about who their customers are and how they interact with the company. A specialty retailer centralized fragmented customer data. Crestline centralized product information to accelerate their ability to bring products to market and make updates across channels. Which of these barriers are holding you back from delivering an omnichannel experience?
Product Information Management (PIM) is an investment, not a “cost.” This is so important it’s worth repeating: “PIM is an investment.” If you are a retailer of any size (small or big, it makes little difference), it’s likely your most painful challenges include the following:
- Lost sales from out-of-stock issues
- Lost time haggling over return disputes
- Squandered hours reconciling product information promotion discrepancies across all channels
And, if you’re comfortable experiencing the following, then no change is needed:
- Slower Time-To-Market for for new product introductions and the corresponding wasted dollars
- Wasted time spent relaying basic product information to customers and partners
- Overall brand erosion
However, for those who want to embark on a journey toward redemption, I will use this post to lay a good foundation and to demystify PIM.
Here are 6 reasons to consider transforming your business using PIM. Note that the priority order will vary by industry and situation.
1) PIM for Operational efficiency
This really boils down to a reduction in the number of call center questions regarding basic item information, a reduction in the number of instances when inventory levels are insufficient, and a reduction in the number of purchase order errors, resulting in incorrect shipments or adjustments.
2) PIM for New Product Introduction (NPI)
Introducing a new product requires the coordinated efforts of dozens of internal and external staff. It can be a fairly complex task. Even a simple product may require hundreds of attributes, all derived from multiple systems residing within and outside the organization.
3) PIM to Reduce the “Time to Market”
Studies have shown that high-performing companies generate, on average, 61 percent of their sales from successful introductions of new products and services. PIM will help you have a streamlined process for creating new products and distributing them to eCommerce and other channels in the ecosystem. The faster, the better. Why? Well, you will have them before anyone else and secondly there will be more time to sell them.
4) PIM for Business growth and improved customer satisfaction
The instantaneous nature of online retail impacts consistency and adds an additional layer of complexity to the management of product information. Customer satisfaction is (also) correlated to rich, contextual, and consistent product information across sales channels. Companies that lack this discipline experience brand erosion with consequental detrimental impact on overall business performance.
5) PIM to Improve your supplier performance
How would you answer your CFO if she asked for the average cost to on-board a product from a supplier? All things considered, my bet is that it would be in the neighborhood of $500-$700. But even if it is $200 you are still in deep water. In fact, with a bit of math you’ll figure out the incidence of this cost when considering the tens of thousands of SKUs that are introduced into the market every year. Forward-thinking retailers are leveraging an integrated supplier portal to enhance supplier collaboration. This saves precious time and manpower, often bringing down that cost to less than $5.
6) PIM for Omni-channel enablement
A retail omni-channel strategy cannot not contemplate the management of product information. This is because retailers need to collect information from multiple sources, optimizing content and facilitating timely distribution of content across multiple channels. Very often, though, information in stores, eCommerce sites, mobile apps, and print catalogs just don’t match up. Often, it is difficult to connect products and customers, resulting in poor customer experiences. This is a large topic that will be covered in upcoming posts.
Looking for more information on how PIM can actually lay the foundations to deliver on these promises? There is more in my previous blog posts here, here, and here. There is also a SlideShare presentation here. Finally, we have a new eBook called The Informed Purchase Journey available here.
For years, a customer’s purchase process was something of “An Unexpected Journey.” Lack of insight into the journey was a struggle for retailers. The journey was fraught with questions about product research habits, purchases and crucial factors that spark purchase decisions.
Today, the customer purchase journey no longer has to be a “guessing game.” Data integration and analytics are able to assist retailers in understanding this journey. To begin, let’s examine how consumer behaviors and the role of product information have changed since the advent of substantial bandwidths and social buying. To do so, lets examine the way shoppers buy today.
The customer buying experience has changed in the following ways:
The days of the single visit to a trusted retailer are behind us. Today’s shoppers are in control. They are hugely aware of their power as consumers, and they’re exercising it freely.
Buyers aren’t using one specific channel anymore. They’re shopping in stores, online, through mobile apps, on social platforms, and from catalogs simultaneously. Lacking a central focal point, quality data integration and analytics have become imperative to understanding this behavior. Retailers must be able to track the purchase decisions of one consumer as he or she switches back and forth amongst these channels. If done correctly, a retailer would be able to recognize behavior specific to individuals and act on it, serving ads or timely discounts to them.
Purchasing decisions are “crowd-informed.” Recommendations and reviews from peers guide consumers and validate their choices every step of the way. As a result, it has become increasingly necessary for retailers to understand how they are being reviewed. But more specifically, it is important for the retailer to identify and target influential reviewers. If this is done effectively, the retailer may be able to personalize their experience and make that influential consumer feel special. This may seem like a complicated task with small returns, but imagine if they write a positive review that is ultimately read by thousands of people. This could lead to a fantastic return on investment for the retailer.
Shoppers used to be dependent on a few sources of information. Now with Internet search tools, consumers are able to hunt for answers themselves. As such, retailers must understand what type of information their consumers are searching for. With this information, retailers may be able to update the content on their websites, blogs, or social channels to provide information customers need. To visualize this purchase journey we’ve created the INFAgraphic below.
So how can I learn more?
Join us at Informatica World 2014 to learn rich information about retail technology and the “purchase journey.”
Experts will share ways of leveraging your data to boost sales and heighten customer experience. The conference also has a dedicated MDM Day on Monday May 12 with workshops and sessions showing how vendors, distributors, retailers and individuals interact in the “always-on,” connected world.
Reserve your spot by signing up here.