Monday, November 3, 2008

Multi-channel madness

Its not enough these days to be great just online or to make lots of sales on the High Street (unless you're a discount retailer, that's not really happening these days). No, you now have to be good across a range of different sales or communication options... known as multi-channel.

But how do you make sense of it all? Well, if you are using more than one communication or retail channel, then you need to think about how to leverage these touch-points so that you get the right mix of: message, content, sales, support and whatever else.
So, if you:
  • Advertise online to get customers into store
  • Provide a kiosk for an online newspaper
  • Sell online and have customers collect from store

Then you've probably found out already how mad it can be.

But are you providing the mix that your customers want? For example, in the US earlier this year, retail customers cited the 'Ability to return merchandise to a a store, even if it was purchased online or over the phone' as the feature they desired the most from multichannel.

For those about to embark on this epic journey, multi-channel comes with its own set of challenges, including:

  • The analysis (and decision) of what channels to implement
  • Identifying the right metrics/KPI's across channels (and then actually measuring & acting on them)
  • Organizational impact from exisiting 'siloed' departments
  • Maintaining the message consistency across channels
  • Finding or building the central technology to manage the whole thing
  • Integration of the data between disparate systems

I'm going to try an focus on these challenges (and quite possibly more) in forthcoming posts and try to figure out how to avoid or resolve them. Hopefully it won't make us all mad in the process.

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