Retailers Share How Customer Engagement Drives Omnichannel Profitability

On October 8, 2014, during RIS News' Engage! 2014, a group of more than 10 retailers met to have intimate and frank discussions on how to use engagement to drive deeper interactions, and ultimately, profitability.
The workshop kicked off with attendees sharing their findings and insights into how the mysterious Millennials shop and defining what omnichannel means to their organization. Many in the group are leveraging customer data and analytics to achieve better execute on providing customers a positive experience in the channel that they're shopping in. The consensus was that with such a variety of solutions being offered, the struggle lies in dealing with current legacy systems – the need to break down siloes and integrate marketing across platforms from commerce to fulfillment, marketing communications to customer service.
There have also been an overwhelming number of pain points for retailers to address throughout the omnichannel transformation, before an organization is able to set its sights on customer profitability. These include:
  • A lack of knowing who the customer is
  • New customer acquisition, specifically Millennials
  • No single view of the customer
  • The need for a data management system to merge all centralized data
  • Fulfillment
  • Keeping up with bandwidth and privacy/security
  • Having stores that are competent and committed
  • Too long a time gap between pilot and rollout, and for some, too many pilots – some organizations are piloting numerous technologies, but not actually rolling them out, creating a confusing impact on the store

Following the discussion of pain points and solutions, the topic turned one of the biggest questions yet: who is the primary decision maker responsible for omnichannel? The overall consensus is that there is no industry-wide standard for is responsible. In many cases the Marketing and E-Commerce departments share the responsibility, which prohibits true future growth due to the impact of old school versus new school within each organization. With a discrepancy in how departments would handle omnichannel, processes become fragmented causing IT to patch solutions, which only creates further breakdowns and prevents potential future growth.
The top 10 takeaways from the group discussion around omnichannel customer profitability included the following:
  1. True omnichannel transformation must come from the top-down to succeed
  2. Majority of discovery begins online, but 80% of Millennials still prefer to purchase in-store
  3. Nee to breakdown silos (commerce, fulfillment, marketing, customer service)
  4. What percentage of customers are omnichannel? 75% of retailers don't know!
  5. Lack of true omnichannel ownership prohibits growth – 1/3 say omnichannel title is growing importance)
  6. Rising need centralized data management
  7. Must identify customers and be able to cater to them
  8. Security is high-priority on everyone's radar – Don't be the next headline
  9. KESS: Know-Engage-Sales-Service
  10. No longer analyzing POS data alone, with multi-sensory data growing retailers must break through the complexity (omnichannel data has increased 33%)