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Showing posts with label Omnichannel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Omnichannel. Show all posts

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Top 5 Reasons for investing in Customer Experience

Gone are the days when the key to success in business is determined by a premium quality product/ service, value for money and good customer service. In this age of extreme competitiveness led by disruptive technologies and the allied digital transformation services, the key to success of any business lies in the Customer Experience that you are delivering. With the widespread reach of social media and real time interactions via the internet, the room for customer expectations has become broaden. The Customer Experience in this digital transformation era represents more of a cumulative experience of multiple touch points which results in a long term real relationship between the business and the customer. But how to create and deliver the most appealing customer experience is the question the business world is facing now.

Let us have a look at the Top 5 reasons for investing in Customer Experience
  1. Drive loyalty: Enhance brand loyalty through engaging programs and gamification
  2. Increase Revenue: Develop Omnichannel experience to create multiplier effect
  3. Improve Customer Service: Understand 360 degree customer view to contextualize interactions
  4. Reduce Customer Churn: Know how to keep your customer sticking to your brand
  5. Competitive Advantage: Enhance data capturing analyzing capabilities to gain a competitive advantage

The business value of a great customer experience is enormous which prompts the global businesses for putting the strategy, funds and processes in place to build an effective customer experience practicing. Those who are making necessary changes to strategically prioritize CX will definitely win an upper edge over the competitors.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Store as Fulfillment Center: Omnichannel and the Future of Retail

Omnichannel has come of age for brick-and-mortar retailers.
Traditional retailers have been on a slow yet steady adoption of digital technologies over the last two decades. First arrived e-commerce, which retailers took on as another channel for customer acquisition and sales. Coupled with this emerged online-only players opening up new avenues of fulfillment. Then came smartphones, setting a new paradigm of customer experiences.
Today, with the faster evolution of technology and ever-increasing consumerization, there is a demand for ultimate flexibility and innovation. Customers expect to be recognized and pampered, and they switch loyalty for the smallest of added perceived value – be it monetary based, convenience based, or experience based.
Brick-and-mortar retailers with an established national and/or international store network are specifically suited to meet the customers of today where they are – online, on mobile, in a physical store, or even in a subway station.  These phy-digital retailers can and must strive for true omnichannel – seamless, connected, and personalized experiences irrespective of how and where their customers shop.
 Omnichannel and the Future of Retail
The Potential of a Store
Despite the increasing adoption of digital shopping, it remains a fact that, for bricks-and-clicks retailers, over 90 percent of revenues are from their physical stores and the store, therefore, continues to be nerve center of operations. It is important to realize the true potential of the huge store network for such retailers.
Stores can transform to be experience centers for omnichannel customers. Here are a few solutions that can bring transformational experiences in-store:
  • Experiential kiosks and digital displays
  •  Digital signage
  •  In-store IoT/ beacon-based personalized experiences
  •  Customer engagement driven by data insights
Stores can be mini-fulfilment hubs, offering ultimate flexibility when it comes to delivery choices and saving a potentially lost sale. Examples of such initiatives include the following:
  • Order online to pick up in store or at curb side, fulfilled from store or warehouse
  •  Order in-store for home delivery, from a warehouse, same store, or another store
  •  Order in-store for pick up from store, from same store or another store
When armed with right tools and technologies, store associates can be brand ambassadors, driving customer loyalty and improving customer retention. For example, when a store associate is asked a question about a salmon pink shirt that was found online but is not in stock in store, the store associate should be incentivized and have the tools to check inventories of nearby stores or the distribution center. Further, the associate should be empowered to take the order for shipping this product to customer’s home at no extra charge the next day.
It’s a no-brainer that omnichannel retailers must invest in technologies that deliver the data to drive store-transformation initiatives.
Implications for Brick-and-Mortar Retailers
For a complete omnichannel transformation to be successful over next two to three years, the foundation has to be strong. It starts with a data-driven, single view of the customer, orders, inventory, products, etc. and a scalable architecture to support dynamic changes in business.
  • To enable an endless aisle of products not limited to a store’s physical space, a global product catalog should be available across channels, including your extended supply network and drop-ship vendors.
  •  To enable stores to be fulfilment hubs, a real-time and reliable view of inventory data should be available across the entire supply network.
  •  And for personalization to click, a 360-degree view of customers’ online orders, store transactions, social engagement, lifetime value, loyalty history including open orders, queries, and complaints is a must.
Orchestrate transformational customer journeys. Decoding retail customer journeys is the starting point to digital transformation. In the era of design thinking and customer experience, a new paradigm of solution design is evolving. Yes, there are beacons, there is big data, there is fast data, there are mobile technologies and cloud applications that promise Nirvana. However, to get transformational business outcomes, there is a need for careful curation of experiences.
Bricks-and-clicks retailers must orchestrate an end-to-end experience that is beyond a pointed technology solution to solve a particular problem like knowing what the customer did on the website or what she purchased in a store. It is about bringing all the insights and business states about products, customers, and even assets like dressing rooms to curate a new digital journey for the customer in-store.
Empower store associates. Retailers must realize the importance of their associates as omnichannel evangelists who can make or break seamless experiences for the customer. Initiatives to incentivize cross-channel “save the sale” behavior is one key paradigm shift that retailers must consciously undergo.
The store associate must be equipped with data on products available across different distribution channels and, to be credible brand advocates, also must be as knowledgeable as her customer. She needs the right technology to have access to meaningful insights on her customer in order to offer a personalized experience. Tools and technologies that can provide data that deliver in-the-moment, 360-degree views on customers, enterprise-level inventory data, mobile point of sale, and in-built intelligence to provide the right recommendations (product recommendations, substitutes, alternate fulfillment options, dynamic offers) are critical for associate empowerment.
The benefits of executing well on all the above initiatives are increased footfalls, increased conversions with a multiplier effect across channels and, most importantly, increased customer loyalty and retention.

Why Retailers Should Recruit a Chief Omnichannel Officer Now

Thanks to modern technology and digital tools, the opportunities to interact with and buy from a brand today are ubiquitous. Customers want to shop anytime, anywhere. Omnichannel rules, and smart retailers are getting on board.
For the customer, the best of omnichannel creates a consistent and uniform experience across all touch-points — online, brick-and-mortar stores, social media, events, mobile and more — all the time. For the retailer, omnichannel reaches its pinnacle of effectiveness when each channel’s operations are connected at the back end and continuously provide integrated, customer-specific information coming into the organization. This highly valuable data can then be analyzed and acted upon, to build a sound strategy for new — and even more consistent — marketing and sales efforts going forward.
Transforming a multichannel entity into a true omnichannel organization is much easier said than done. It is a job that requires a dedicated, totally focused individual that has the responsibility — and seniority — to integrate multichannel systems (literally and figuratively) across all customer touch points: store operations, marketing, call center, and digital (which includes all forms of non-store-based commerce). This is made all the more difficult because traditionally — and naturally — most of today’s organizational structures have evolved into fairly ingrained silos.
Omnichannel

A chief omnichannel officer can help a retailer go from silos to seamless. Here are the specific responsibilities the officer should tackle:
Eliminate silos
Customer touch points today usually exist in the store as point-of-sale systems, online as e-commerce systems and on-the-go as m-commerce platforms, the contact center, and other systems. Up to now, sales and other information has been collected and stored right back within the different system silos.
Retailers still getting used to multichannel efforts have traditionally kept channels independent of one another. This approach is fine, but does it really provide a true picture of how r customer interacts with a brand all the time? A savvy chief omnichannel officer will eliminate silos and integrate all channels at the back end to then take the next step: making the most of data that is generated by the customer.
Get the most out of customer information
To turn customer data into real information assets in aggregate, a central repository that can syndicate useful product information back out to the various channels must be created, and that is one big job. Today, disparate CRM systems are left struggling to get a single, consistent view of the customer. Customer information is one of the most valuable of assets in retail but it in a multi-siloed organization this data is rarely utilized properly.
The lifeline of a truly effective omnichannel experience is data that is integrated in terms of every customer data touch point, and that means integrating existing systems without minimizing each systems’ effectiveness, which is a tricky IT challenge that should be up front and center to a chief omnichannel officer.
Get staff on the same (omnichannel) page
Technical problems apart, siloed skills among staff create their own issues. Disconnects exist between a retailer’s business and technical staff. Open conversations that focus on people, processes and technology are rare between the chief marketing officer and CIO.
Separate heads for all functions — marketing, finance, merchandising, HR, stores, etc. — all report to the CEO or president. As a result, very few people have a holistic understanding of the business, much less what it takes to create an omnichannel presence. What’s more, most high-level, C-suite executives are too tied up with other business issues to commit to the kind of focus necessary to drive the creation of a functioning omnichannel organization.
A key responsibility of an omnichannel officer should be to drive — from a senior level — a commitment to omnichannel throughout the organization, oversee accountability in that commitment, and ingrain omnichannel into the company culture. Change is hard, but breaking silos to achieve synchronization, alignment and ownership among staff is paramount.
The omnichannel chief must encourage active involvement, monitoring, facilitation and support from channel leaders. To do this and communicate effectively with function heads, the officer must have an understanding of all customer touch points, the organization’s holistic business needs, and a direct reporting status to top leadership.
Be interested in revenue generation
Transformation into an omnichannel organization might come faster if, besides managing the development of strategies that integrate the company’s systems, people and activities, the chief omnichannel officer takes on somewhat of a P&L role.
When recruiting for the position, discuss the possibility of responsibility for revenue generation activities along with a reasonable share of the profitability. In the ideal scenario, the chief omnichannel officer will look after the execution of omnichannel and will also be responsible for the ROI on marketing investment. In that way, he or she can inseminate an organic acceptance of omnichannel best practices across all departments, while at the same time encouraging digital growth in such a way that it doesn’t affect current high-performing channels.
No doubt, the idea candidate needs to be one talented and well-rounded individual. Someone with strong digital marketing experience and exposure to other key business functions is a good place to start, and should enable the individual to grow into the role properly in a short period of time.
Simply put, transforming an organization into an omnichannel powerhouse is an exercise in managing change. Placing the right person in charge near the top of your organization will make it clear to all that it is an initiative to be taken seriously. Setting the right tone with all stakeholders will speed sincere acceptance and motivate everyone to deliver. If a retailer can achieve this, the company is on its way to converting your investment in omnichannel into tangible long-term results and strategic market advantage.
Salil Godika is co-founder of Happiest Minds, a next generation digital transformation, infrastructure, security and product engineering services company. With 19 years of experience in the IT industry across global product and services companies, he previously was with Mindtree for four years as the chief strategy officer/M&A and held P&L responsibility of an Industry group. Before Mindtree, Salil gained 12 years’ experience in the United States working for various software product companies large as well as start-ups.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Is An OmniChannel Officer Inevitable?

The rapid advances in the technology landscape and proliferation of digital have taken customers beyond multi-channel to an Omnichannel retail experience. Global retailers that include the likes of Macy’s, Saks and Lowe’s have already moved in this direction enabling customers to shop anytime, anywhere and enjoy consistent and delightful experience.

Omnichannel retail aims at enabling sales initiatives through multiple channels – online, brick and mortar stores, social media, events, mobile, and the usual traditional sales efforts; at the same time creating consistent and uniform customer experience at each sales touch point. The channel operations are connected at the back end to provide the integrated, customer specific information whenever required. The availability of customer information across all channels through regular information sharing enables store representatives and online customers view the same data anytime, anywhere.

However, building an Omnichannel capability is easier said than done. It needs a totally integrated operation across all customer touch points - store operations, marketing, call center, and digital (which includes all forms of non-store-based commerce). This is made all the more difficult because the traditional organizational structure creates siloes.
To take an example, let’s look at product and customer data. Data is generated in-store through point-of-sale systems, e-commerce and m-commerce platforms, the contact center, and other systems.  This information is collected and stored across different systems because retailers have traditionally kept sales channels independent of one another. These systems generally don’t get the necessary attention to turn that data into real information assets. Rather than having a central repository that can syndicate product information out to the various channels, retailers create product assortments based on sales channels.
On the customer side, CRM systems are often struggling to get a single view of the customer. Customer information is among the most valuable assets in retail but it is rarely utilized properly. An order fulfillment system may be the lifeline of an Omnichannel experience but its deployment is usually deferred citing high investment costs, lack of integration with existing systems and lack of time and resources dedicated to deployment.

Technical problems apart, siloed skills create their own issues. Disconnects exist between retailer’s business and technical staff. Open conversations are rare between the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and the Chief Information Officer (CIO) around people, processes and technology. There are separate heads for all the functions - marketing, finance, merchandising, HR, stores, who report into the CEO or the President. Very few people who have the holistic understanding of the business requirements are available and all of them are among the topmost C-level executives. Unfortunately their hands are always too tied up to take up and drive an operation like the creation of Omnichannel retail capabilities.

Organization level ownership, commitment and accountability is needed to break these silos and to drive synchronization and alignment. Since such a capability cannot be built without active involvement, monitoring, facilitation and support from the leadership, the creation of a dedicated senior level position responsible for Omnichannel becomes an imperative for the success of this initiative. This will be the omni-channel   officer or Chief Omni Channel Officer, who has a good understanding of all the customer touch points, a holistic understanding of business needs and a direct reporting to the top leadership.

The Chief Omni Channel Officer will manage the development of strategies that will integrate the company’s stores, online and mobile activities; take on responsibility for systems and technology, logistics and related operating functions. It could also be a position different from the traditional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) in the sense that it is becomes a P&L role where he/ she will also be looking after revenue generation activities along with a reasonable share of the profitability. Chief Omni Channel Officer will look after the store level/ digital level execution and will also be responsible for the ROI on marketing investment. Undoubtedly, the Chief Omni Channel Officer will have to play the prime role in accelerating digital growth while inseminating an organic acceptance of Omni-channel best practices across all departments of a company in such a way that it doesn’t affect the current high performing channels.

The ideal Chief Omni Channel Officer should be a candidate with an experience in store operations, call center operations, digital and marketing which is very hard to get. Someone with a strong digital/ marketing experience and exposure to the other business functions should be a good enough to handle the role properly.

Essentially, the operationalization of Omnichannel is an exercise in managing change and it should start at the very top with the leadership making it clear in no uncertain terms that this is one initiative that has been sponsored by them. All the stakeholders, right from the customer support executives in the stores to the senior C-level executives should brace up to whole heartedly support the initiative. Ultimately how effective an initiative has been depends as much on how it has been accepted as on how it has been implemented. This is critical to convert the Omni-channel investment into tangible long term returns and strategic advantage.