Traditionally Retail industries have been using multiple channels for sales but for most part, they have run these channels independent of each other or in complete isolation. For most of these retailers, their e-commerce customer is completely unknown when he walks into their Store.
Over the recent years, Sales trend have nasdaq 100 futures been showing that sales growth for multi-channel retailer have been substantially higher than single sales channel retailer. Retailers have started to acknowledge this trend and are getting keener to know on how to build an integrated multi-channel experience for their Customers and thereby have an increased Customer Loyalty & Sales.
To understand multi-channel retailing and some of its key aspects, I spoke to Retail multi-channel industry experts from Palindrome Software Labs; the results of which were quite interesting and eye-opening.
Trend of information assimilation across the entire organization is here to stay and possibly will continue to evolve. Gained from experience of recent difficult economy, Retailers have realized the need to have the information gathered, shared and utilised across the whole organization. They also realize that for this to happen, many of their current day organization wide practices, operational processes and behaviors have to be either changed or be completely replaced with new set of processes.
Information assimilation starts by creating and having an Organization Wide Single Integrated Data Backbone. “The mantra of cross-channel is to have an integrated data backbone such that the data is always current and available to be used by its employees, customers and processes both within & outside the organization” says Mahesh Hiremath, UK Regional Sales Director at Palindrome Software Labs, a cross-channel e-commerce solutions provider. “Many retailers are finding cross-channel/cross-process integration very challenging but at the same time are also getting keen to find ways to make it possible.”
It is quite clear that to compete in an ever changing retail landscape, retailers have a need to have a software infrastructure & environment to build and maintain an organization wide shared information infrastructure.
“Key to Multichannel sales & merchandise is to gather organization wide data and to make it available for people & processes both within and outside the organization in a structured and in a usable manner to be consumed and to be broken down into meaningful information for their business” explains Andrew Mcgill, Sales Director at Palindrome Software Labs, a Multichannel software solution provider. Andrew continues, “Retailers will have to keep their information live and evolve on how they want to use information inside the organization and on how to present it to their Customers & processes outside”. Andrew further continues, “Customers are more and more using multiple Sales channels to analyze and form their purchasing opinions & decisions. To Survive & to Grow in this competitive environment, it is quite essential for retailers to have their presence in as many as Sales Channel possible and to present their best Selling case for their Goods & Services in those channels. He further adds “Single Sales Channel selling mechanism is on its way to die; it is not a question of Whether it will happen but a question of When?”
Break Data into Meaningful Information
Once Cross Channel information is collected; Retailers have realized the need to analyze their data, search for important information and form their Sales and Business strategy. Different Retailers perform different levels of data analysis varying from simple analysis of planning promotions to planning Channel specific, Customer specific Sales & marketing strategy.
“Analyzed Data on different Business Key Performance Index is the path to Retail Business Success. It is like having a magic Crystal Ball in your hand for predicting and planning your business future”, says Mahesh Hiremath of Palindrome Software Labs.”Retailers should develop on Organization wide Cross Channel information – whether it is to better service their customers, to manage inventories better, or to up-sell”. “We encourage and provide ways to collect a lot of data using our software, but the actual result to retailer comes from using that data to make that very important sale”
Standard Customer Service Experience across all Channels
Bad Customer Service proves more costly than a Good Customer Service. With competitors not being a block or a mile away but just a click away; it is so much more relevant today, than ever before.
“Customer Service has to be excellent and has to be uniform across different Channels. Customers should get the same satisfied feeling, no matter on which Channel, they Shop. It seems so natural approach for everyone to adopt but yet not followed by most” Says, Andrew
Bottom line is, Don’t just stick on to the channel on which you are selling but embrace ever-increasing newer channels into your merchandise system making your business more visible to your customers and viable for future growth.