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10-09-2014 - >>
Interested in technology futures? Some interesting links.
24-03-2014 - >>
Julian Josem has been appointed to the Victorian ICT Health Ministerial Advisory Council.
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ARTS (Association for Retail Technology Standards) has released V7 of its Data Model.
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Link to 2013 NRF presentations
12-09-2011 - >>
Productivity Commission report links - Here are the links to the source materials - makes for interesting reading.
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Servicing customers across channels

Retailers are learning the hard way how vital it is to have a strong Multi-Channel strategy.

Every part of the business needs to be considered.  In-store experience

Without an integrated multi-channel strategy, retailers are finding some or all of the following problems emerging: 

  • Customers are getting conflicting messages depending on the sales channel
  • Sales are cannabalised from one channel to another, introducing angst between otherwise cooperative parts of the business
  • The business spends money on virtually the same thing multiple times instead of investing once and making the deliverable available across multiple channels
  • Customers are moving to the competitors because they offer service when and where they prefer

It is obvious that multi-channel is more than just going online.  Every business that interacts with customers over multiple channels such as physical shops, the web, mail order, the telephone, kiosks, via complementary organisations, or even others, needs to ensure that it has a coordinated and consistent approach to the customer.

Most retailers embarked upon the on-line “journey” years ago – a journey that promised an opportunity to improve sales by an order of magnitude.

Customer preferences have been evolving for years as they become more tech-savvy, and since on-line trading has been made accessible to the public by a large number of businesses, it is now a mainstream method that is being embraced by just about every consumer-facing business.

Banks, energy companies, real estate firms, motor vehicle, transport, telecommunications, Government, charities, and the list goes on; all have examples of organisations that have embraced the Internet as a channel to communicate with their customers.

Going on-line can have virtually unlimited benefit to a business – once inside this virtual world, you realise that vision becomes the critical limiting factor.  You can double the sales figures of your best physical outlet, and once you have achieved that, you can double it again. 

Retailers have realised that going on-line and now mobile applications through smartphones can reap instant rewards, but it often also introduces channel conflicts. 

By definition, each channel can service the same customer, introducing the possibility of sending conflicting messages or competing services.

As technology develops and customer preferences evolve, new retail channels are likely to be introduced by your competitors, and the battle to productively serve customers the way they prefer gets harder. 

The mission of a business focuses on serving its customers; successful businesses understand their customer segmentation intimately. 

  • So what are channel preferences for each customer segment
  • How would each segment prefer to interact with the business? 
  • What is the cost-to-serve through each channel? 
  • How do they already interact with competitors?

If you divide up the business into a series of product and service categories, you’ll find different categories with varying characteristics that make it more or less sensible to sell through various channels.

The challenge is to develop a strategy that incorporates the specific needs of the various customer segments, multiple product categories, and multiple channels of communication, and then implement it PRODUCTIVELY within your organisational, technological, and business procedural constraints.

We don't advocate a "cookie cutter" approach, but we do suggest some energy be spent understanding the lifecycle of your transactions (research, purchase, delivery, and use) to determine where the business wants to be, and to identify the steps to get there from today's position.  

We think that very business needs to understand their particular transaction lifecycle, mapping the matrix of customer segment preferences with product category preferences, and determining the preferred channel mix to maximise sales for minimal cost.  

An overall view is required, not a siloed, channel by channel view because customers want to hop seamlessly between touch points.   

And only then can the implementation plan be determined to cost-effectively make your people, processes, and technology within each retail channel cooperative productively to contribute to overall business performance. 

A well crafted multi-channel strategy will transform a business into a truly multi-channel, cross-channel, future-proof business that addresses an ever increasing number of customer touch points.  This thinking needs to be incorporated into everything a business does.

  • Do all your channels have access to a coordinated customer database?
  • Do you have a cooperative multi-channel culture where the DNA for all your channels is to contribute to other parts of the business?
  • Do you know the level of cross-contribution to profitability by segment by channel?
  • When you develop a television advertisement, are you making a You-Tube version? 
  • When you are recruiting, do you consider the social networking sites? 
  • When placing orders with suppliers, are you utilising shared infrastructure to reduce the cost to serve?
  • Do you find that some category managers are wedded to particular channels without considering others?

A multi-channel transformation journey will result in being able to answer all these questions and more and will result in increasing overall business performance – more sales, more satisfied customers, more value in your brand, and all at an increasing rate of return  for funds deployed.

Josem would be delighted to explore how we can help you formulate a multi-channel strategy for your business.  We understand the needs, the impediments, and the benefits, and more importantly, how to go about introducing changes.

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