If You Build It Will They Come? Part 3

October 30, 2018
Why an omnichannel solution is easier bought than built.
If You Build It Will They Come? Part 3

We’re continuing our attempt to answer one of the great quandaries facing retail companies: Build or Buy? Today, we’re going to look at the omnichannel experience — how retailers can reach consumers where they’re already shopping.

For the full Build vs. Buy experience, check out our earlier installments, on Relationship Commerce and avoiding technical constraints.

Retail’s Book of Revelations

Reports of the death of retail have been greatly exaggerated. That’s not to say that the retail industry isn’t facing a moment of existential doubt: last month, shopping mall vacancies hit their highest rate in seven years; retail stocks are in retreat; and every few weeks seems to bring the news of another high-profile

But there’s one data point that confounds anyone predicting the end of shopping — consumer spending is at its highest rate since 2014, growing at a rate of 4% in the third quarter of 2018.

Clearly consumers are still shopping. But they’re they’re shopping in new ways, on new platforms, and using new technologies. The challenge retailers face in this latest shop-ocalypse is not the result of disinterest, or a lagging economy — it’s because they’re not meeting customers where they’re shopping.

Channel Surfing

That’s why omnichannel capabilities are crucial for any retailer who wants to survive this latest extinction event -- if they’re still relying on reaching customers solely through a website or brick-and-mortar, they’re going to go the way of the T. Rex (or Kids “R” Us mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe, at the very least).   

Omnichannel retail is a fully-integrated approach to commerce that allows consumers to shop across the full breadth of online and offline channels -- whether in-store, on the web, or via SMS, social media, and IoT devices.

And omnichannel marketing allows retailers to engage consumers in a highly personalized manner through those same channels. Imagine your customers being able to reorder consumables like paper towels or skin cream via text message, Facebook alert, or email --  prompted by a timely alert reminding them that they’re running out.

Effective omnichannel is more than just adding a “Buy Now!” option to a retailer’s Instagram feed. It involves a complex array of data analytics, machine learning, and backend integrations that make up the backbone of any effective Relationship Commerce strategy.

Data-driven innovation needs to create a seamless user experience across every touchpoint. But building those capabilities on your own is far easier said than done.

Out of the Big Box

Well-defined and brand-consistent omnichannel messaging is a complex, multi-faceted challenge, and it’s one that many retailers are struggling to overcome. A recent study from McKinsey’s Periscope Research found that 39% of respondents felt their digital channels were suffering from “a lack of internal coordination”.

And when asked to identify the biggest challenges to build a successful omnichannel capabilities, their answers were revealing:

  • Lack of customer analytics across channels (67%)
  • Silo’d organization (48%)
  • Poor data quality (45%)
  • Inability to identity customers across shopping trips (45%)

But these obstacles are easily overcome — rather than try to build an omnichannel solution in-house, retailers should consider partnering with Relationship Commerce experts who will help them avoid these problems.

Rather than try to build an omnichannel solution in-house, retailers should consider partnering with Relationship Commerce experts who will help them avoid problems.

Offering technology that integrates seamlessly, and out-of-the-box, with pre-existing POS, CRM, and eCommerce platforms, these outside partners will allow retailers to fully connect in-store and online shopping experiences. All without suffering through onerous tech debt, an incomplete feature set, or lackluster data.

Speaking Their Language

The digital world has become a seeming Tower of Babel, where an endless series of platforms, media, and technologies are all competing for a consumer’s attention. But that doesn’t mean a retailer’s messaging, marketing, and purchasing channels have to end in chaos.

With trusted Relationship Commerce partners, these merchants can find a ready-made solution to the problem of omnichannel messaging, all without compromising their vision or overextending their team.  

Tags: Build vs Buy

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