By Andrew Hackett
Most consumers no longer act within or even think about traditional channel boundaries, they’re also increasingly likely to evaluate brand and retailer based on the seamlessness of their experience. This is because their expectations are being set by their previous best experience, even if that experience was from a totally different industry. Matching those expectations requires you to be everywhere, available on any device or platform, if you aren’t then you’re at risk of creating a fragmented customer journey.
When migrating to a composable platform, it’s important to consider your omnichannel capabilities as you are now (if you have any) and the capabilities you may want in the future. Your business model may function well today, but you need to consider where you want your business to be five years down the line and more importantly where your consumers will be in five years as you both mature. A recent McKinsey article stated that over half of customers engage with three to five channels during each journey they take towards making a purchase or resolving a request with a merchant. Offering a compelling, seamless omnichannel experience may not be a requirement now, but in the future its likely to be a matter of survival.
That said, before diving headfirst into omnichannel capabilities business leaders must first consider the underlying value drivers for their specific business. From an omnichannel perspective you need to bring together your strategic objectives and your customer priorities in order to understand which approach to take and what technologies to invest in.
Many people have a murky understanding of how omnichannel creates value. This causes issues not only with adoption of omnichannel but also in how omnichannel is implemented. Most understand the basic idea, that omnichannel means marketing, selling, and serving customers on all channels to create an integrated and cohesive customer experience no matter how or where a customer reaches out. But understanding omnichannel goes deeper, it’s not only about the technology an organisation uses but also about the organisation itself and how they approach omnichannel.
From a technological perspective, having a composable platform means that you’re plugging together a number of different elements to create a complete technological stack in order to best serve your customers. This then allows you to bring in best of breed systems which empower you to meet your customer wherever they may be and communicate with them throughout their journey. Omnichannel then takes all of those systems together, the store systems, online systems, backend systems, and social systems, then connects them to create a seamless world for your consumer.
An example of that interconnectivity in an online order could go something like this:
A customer places an online order, it then goes into the order process and logistics process. Depending on the organisation, it could take 2 hours in a good scenario or as long as 5 days in a bad one, in an omnichannel system all of those elements from the backend logistical systems to the frontend are connected so the line of communication to the customer is never broken throughout the entire time, from point of order all the way up until the customer has that order. The customer is consistently informed where that order is and can access that information across channels. Each interaction with that consumer throughout that order is its own touchpoint. With an omnichannel system you can utilise each of those points to then interact with that consumer repeatedly in a number of ways such as sending them items that pair well with what they bought and informing them if that’s then in stock in a store near them or entice them back to your website. In this way multiple different best of breed systems can be connected and utilised together seamlessly to provide your consumers a smooth unbroken journey in which they’re never uninformed.
An Omnichannel Implementation
From a business perspective, it’s critical for an organisation to establish strategic alignment across the board on their omnichannel agenda for three reasons. Firstly, they need to invest in the skills and skill building necessary for the correct employees within their business to make the progress they require (or identify the best agencies to outsource to). Secondly, they need to avoid investing in a scattershot fashion, funding divergent priorities in e-commerce, store operations, supply chain, marketing, and technology. And lastly implementing Omnichannel requires a shift in their internal approach to their systems, they need to use their whole system top to bottom and integrate their customer journey within those lines of connectivity.
Many business leaders get stuck examining the end result of an omnichannel strategy and the amount of time, money, and effort it would take to reach that stage. However, it’s important to keep in mind that omnichannel implementation is very similar to composable implementation in that it’s not all or nothing. Omnichannel can be implemented incrementally through prioritisation of what brings you the most value as fast as possible with an MVP (minimum viable product) style approach. Businesses are best prepared to implement an omnichannel initiative only after doing the critical thinking necessary to identify their best starting point in that journey, and the specific capabilities they need to succeed and see incremental ROI throughout each step of that process. This way they see constant value creation and revenue increase.
Being able to be responsive to consumer needs and able to scale quickly will be decisive, competitive factors in the coming years, if you’re replatforming then ensuring you’ll be able to scale into omnichannel capabilities from the platform you move to is a key consideration during that selection process. Want some help making your selection? Get in touch with Ayata