Retail Omni-channel

The omni-channel challenge

For the last five years retailers have wrestled with the growing importance of getting the right omni-channel experience to compete effectively and retain their customers. If it wasn’t hard enough creating a consistent brand experience (with the ability to transact) across all channels, then adding personalisation into this mix should be enough to keep any retailer awake at night.

At the heart of personalisation is data, which in the past consumers had to be convinced to part with. Retailers needed to be canny about what they could do to obtain it, otherwise – starved of this essential nutrient – little could be done. Step forward to today’s generation of digital natives and millennials and you have an audience who are much more amenable to sharing data and are prepared to swap it for things of value. But the exciting stuff is still hard get.

With the onset of everything being digital they haven’t had to rely completely on the consumer giving them intimate details – they’ve left a digital breadcrumb trail for them to follow and use. Their ability to track, collect and analyse these digital trials, like website usage and past purchase patterns has leant itself to a form of personalisation based on past behaviour. But it’s important to remember it’s precisely that: past behaviour.

The reality today is that this data is not equal across all channels: a journey might start on the mobile, continue on the desktop and finish in the store, or the opposite way around. The retailer may be able to capture data in each of these channels but it will most likely sit in disparate siloed systems, with each silo likely offering a different level of sophistication in personalisation and none of it joined up. There is no linear purchase path.

A lot of CIOs very quickly realised that creating the ultimate omni-channel experience would need IT rebuilding from the ground up, so that the very foundations were designed to share and work together. In the same vein the same CIOs and data wizards are realising that at the heart of successful personalisation there must be a single view of the customer across all channels. To create a truly single view the silos have to be conquered, the walls torn down and the data shared.

With a unified and single view of the customer comes better analysis of customers behaviour, better anticipation of needs and a greater pool of personal attributes that can be brought to bear on the overall experience. Ultimately that should lead to a much better level of personalisation.