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1 Presented In Conjunction With: Feature Sponsor

2 Presented In Conjunction With: The Sale Is The Omni-Channel Retailers have come to realize the channel customers use to make purchases does not matter, because it is impossible to track all of the sale influencers. What really matters is consistency across the brand to capture that sale no matter where the customer is. Bob Johns, Associate Editor, Integrated Solutions For Retailers/ Retail Solutions Online There is no denying retail has been forever changed by e-commerce. It is the fastest-growing channel with retail, and it is where retailers see the most potential to gain market share. However, retailers are struggling to integrate e-commerce with their other channels to create a seamless omni-channel experience for the customer. Shoppers are becoming increasingly comfortable shopping across all channels. In PwC s recent report, Demystifying The Online Shopper, global retail and consumer leader John Maxwell notes that online shopping varies by country and region. In China, for example, 7% of our survey respondents shopped online at least once a week, compared with about 4% in the U.S. and the U.K., and around 2% for the Netherlands, France, and Switzerland, Maxwell notes. The Social Side Of Retail All of these numbers are increasing year over year as the consumer begins to become more comfortable with shopping online from mobile devices as well as home. Many of these shoppers are beginning their search online, only to complete the transaction in a store. However, retailers are struggling to track and capture these customers to ensure they complete the transaction in one of the retailer s own channels. Many retailers originally thought social media would be the answer as a separate sales channel. However, as Maxwell points out, Social media will for the near future remain a backwater sales channel, if you can call it a sales channel at all. Of the consumers in the PwC survey, 38% of respondents are following their favorite brands and retailers on social media, up 5% in just one year. However, 53% of those same people shop the physical store daily or weekly, compared to 45% of the overall sample. So, social media is leading to sales, just not in its own channel. Retailers need to leverage this media to complete the sale online or in the store. We have been hearing a lot over the past few years that retail stores will basically become showrooms for the online purchase. While there is some validity to the showrooming effect, the PwC report points out, Web product research drives far more shoppers to make a physical purchase than vice versa. In the PwC survey, 23% of electronics purchasers researched online and purchased in the store, while only 2% did it in reverse. According to the report, this holds true for most retail categories, except for music, books, movies, and video games. Consumers still consider shopping to be a very social experience and enjoy the overall experience. They enjoy being able to touch, feel, and try products before purchasing them. Retailers who have brick-and-mortar stores need to capitalize on this aspect of the customer preference and offer valuable in-store experiences. Even if the final transaction takes place online, the retailer needs to be the influencer that drives the sale. All Retail Comes Down To Sales As consumers become more comfortable purchasing across channels, retailers need to eliminate the channel silos and realize a sale is a sale. There is no longer a differentiation in channels; it is all retail. As the PwC report points out, channels are not cannibalizing each other; rather retail as a whole is growing. Some channels are growing faster than others, but that is to be expected as technology and consumer preferences change. Retailers are beginning to realize the channels do not matter; in fact, Macy's has decided to no longer report disparate sales figures as the lines between channels become hopelessly blurred. Join us here as Chris Cunnane of Aberdeen reveals how the omni-channel retailer is evolving to create a seamless customer experience while fully integrating channels in the business model. Bob Johns Associate Editor Integrated Solutions For Retailers/Retail Solutions Online s2/2 RetailSolutionsOnline.com l April 213 l Omni-Channel Special Report

3 The Omni-Channel Customer Experience Customers are pressuring retailers to create a seamless brand experience, no matter what channel they choose to purchase in. by Chris Cunnane Chris Cunnane, research analyst, Aberdeen Group Aberdeen Group's research data indicates that 74% of multichannel retail operations are characterized by separate and siloed channels, resulting in poor brand and customer management. This year, leading retailers are making the move to align the brand, their product offerings, and their marketing messages to achieve a uniform customer experience across all channels. For example, 5% of leaders surveyed indicated their top strategic objective for 213 is to ensure product availability across all channels. This one strategy incorporates the alignment of the brand, product assortment, and messaging for an integrated multichannel view at all levels of the organization. Customer Expectations Are Shaping Omni-Channel Strategies Retailers are facing many pressures that are driving them to expand their customer experience management initiatives across channels. As Figure 1 indicates, retailers have identified three key customer-related pressures that are impacting their omni-channel initiatives: customer expectations of a similar experience regardless of channel (32%), elevated customer expectations (62%), and customer inability to find the desired product at all times (25%). Given the plethora of shopping options and channels, today s consumer has higher expectations when it comes to their shopping experience. The omni-channel experience is being driven by changing consumer desires and preferences, and retailers are simply trying to keep up. Consumers expect a customized and personalized experience, whether they are online, in the store, or on the phone, and this translates into a major shift in the thinking of most companies. At the heart of this issue is the use of customer data. Retailers need to understand how to leverage existing customer data to personalize every experience at every touch point. Figure 1: Customer Pressures Elevated customer expectations Customer expects similar experience across channels Customers are unable to find desired product at all times 62% 32% 25% Channel unification strategies need to go beyond integrating technology; retailers need to align their business processes as well. Additionally, cross-departmental and channel collaboration becomes an important factor in managing the brand across channels. Today s consumer wants a seamless brand experience regardless of channel. Aside from the brand image, marketing messaging, and overall brand engagement strategies, retailers must ensure that customers are able to find the desired product at all times across all channels. This means retailers must put inventory availability and visibility at the forefront of their omnichannel strategy. Omni-Channel Strategic Initiatives The reality of today s omni-channel environment is that inventory is king. Without inventory availability and visibility across channels, an omni-channel strategy is practically irrelevant. Not surprisingly, as Figure 2 shows, the top strategic action identified by retailers for building out their omni-channel initiative is to ensure product availability across all channels. Retailers need to ensure that they are not confining customers to a single channel in their shopping journey. Rather, as customers move between multiple channels throughout the buying life cycle, retailers need to make certain that products are available across each of these RetailSolutionsOnline.com l April 213 l Omni-Channel Special Report s3/21

4 Presented In Conjunction With: Channel unification strategies need to go beyond integrating technology; retailers need to align their business processes as well. Additionally, crossdepartmental and channel collaboration becomes an important factor in managing the brand across channels. channels. To make this a reality, cross-department collaboration is required. Order management and fulfillment strategies must be aligned for all channels, and product information must be updated in real time to preserve brand continuity. Once this initiative has been set in place, the remaining two strategic actions can be tackled: establishing an omni-channel marketing and promotions plan and omni-channel performance metrics. Thirty-one percent of leaders, compared to 21% of followers, are developing an omni-channel marketing and promotions plan. Aberdeen data has shown that retailers have Figure 2: Best-in-Class Strategic Actions Percentage of respondents 5% 38% 31% 21% Leaders Followers 25% 18% generally lagged behind in the unification of their marketing technology. At the same time, according to 28% of respondents, the CMO s office is responsible for managing the customer experience. To do so requires the implementation of an omnichannel marketing strategy which aligns product availability, marketing communications, and the brand itself. This strategy can help to break down the walls of the traditionally siloed approach to channel-specific marketing and move towards a seamless multi-channel, multitouch approach to marketing and promotions planning. The third strategic action identified by retailers is to establish omni-channel performance metrics. Omni-channel as a concept is great, but if retailers do not know how to measure their relative success, it is a moot point. Retailers have had standard metrics in place to determine their relative success within a specific channel, but they do not have a cohesive set of metrics to measure the experience as it flows between channels. Retailers need to adjust their thinking and look at metrics such as customer satisfaction across channels, on-time order fulfillment across channels, and net promoter scores. These metrics can give a fuller picture of the overall customer experience. Omni-Channel Capabilities And Technology To act on each of the aforementioned omni-channel retail strategies, retailers must develop a foundation of core capabilities and technology. The following section will outline how leading retailers are executing each of these strategic actions. Ensure product availability across all channels Develop an omnichannel marketing and promotion plan Establish omnichannel performance metrics Fulfillment And Order Management-Centric Capabilities Ensuring product availability across all channels requires the alignment of multiple teams (marketing, merchandising, and fulfillment) and technologies with the retail enterprise (in-store, Web, mobile, call center). Channel order management and inventory management systems must communicate to ensure that products are available and will be fulfilled on time at the desired s4/22 RetailSolutionsOnline.com l April 213 l Omni-Channel Special Report

5 The reality of today s omni-channel environment is that inventory is king. Without inventory availability and visibility across channels, an omni-channel strategy is practically irrelevant. destination from the customer. Retailers must ensure that orders can be pulled from any channel to fulfill the request from another channel. Missing this important step can create shopper dissatisfaction and lost sales in the case of a unified purchase, exchange, or return process. Currently, 26% of retailers share fulfillment planning and execution data across channels, with an additional 7% planning to share this information in the next 12 to 18 months. This capability allows the retailer to share demand planning, inventory levels, order fulfillment, procurement, and logistics information with all relevant stakeholders. The result is to ensure proper inventory allocation for stores, warehouses, and distribution centers. Additionally, by sharing this information in real time, retailers are able to see inventory levels and provide Figure 3: Omni-Channel Capabilities 1 8 Percentage of respondents % 57% 61% 26% 35% 22% Fulfillment information is shared across channels Order management information is shared across channels Common merchandise plan for all channels Planned Current the customer an alternative means of fulfillment if the store is currently out of stock. Thirty-five percent of the aforementioned retail respondents currently share order management information across channels, and an additional 57% plan to establish this capability. Order management information is important, as it keeps track of customer orders, product information, stock levels, and fulfillment. By sharing this data across channels, retailers have more visibility into the business. Visibility is vital for making informed business decisions regarding the merchandise and promotions mix. As retailers share this information across channels, they are able to better ensure that the product will be available via the customer s channel of choice. The final capability that retailers seeking to ensure merchandise availability across channels have identified is the ability to apply a common merchandise plan across channels (22% current adoption and 61% planned adoption). The merchandise plan cannot be channel-centric in the new retail environment. Customers expect product availability regardless of channels, and retailers must plan accordingly. By applying a common merchandise plan for all channels, retailers are able to coordinate marketing efforts across channels, allocate inventory appropriately, and apply a uniform brand experience to customers, regardless of their channel of interaction. Omni-Channel Marketing Technology Leading retailers have identified three key marketing technology components for driving their omni-channel strategy: social media monitoring tools, cross-channel promotion and marketing management solutions, and a catalog management system. Currently, 54% of leaders use social media monitoring tools, compared to 3% of followers. Leading retailers collect massive amounts of customer data through social networks and use this information for marketing and engagement opportunities. Retailers such as Best Buy and New York & Company have used social listening to respond in real time to customer inquiries, with an increased focus around the holiday shopping season. Leaders are also using a cross-channel promotion and RetailSolutionsOnline.com l April 213 l Omni-Channel Special Report s5/23

6 Presented In Conjunction With: Ultimately, new shopping channels require more cohesive measurement and sharing of performance metrics. As a result, retailers must ensure they are able to measure and quantify the impact of their omni-channel strategy marketing management solution to further their omni-channel strategy. This technology is important for aligning the marketing team s brand message, along with making the promotional offers and language consistent. Too often, consumers are confused by disjointed channel offers. By moving towards a cross-channel marketing solution, leading Figure 4: Marketing Enablers Percentage of respondents 54% 3% Social media montioring tools 43% 36% Cross-channel promotion and marketing management solution 34% 14% Leaders Followers Catalog management system retailers are able to reduce the clutter that customers must wade through when making a purchase decision. According to the June 212 Retail Digital Marketing report, 41% of bestin-class retailers have made developing consistent branding across channels their top strategic priority. The cross-channel solution will serve as the main hub for implementing a consistent approach to marketing communications objectives. A final marketing solution leaders are using is a catalog management system. A catalog management system allows retailers to update product catalogs across channels with accurate product information, pricing, functionalities, related products, and product features. The increased use of digital channels makes this technology important for retailers, as all catalog information needs to be up to date and reflective of changing inventory. The seasonal nature of retail also plays a role in the need for these updates. Omni-Channel Performance Metrics Ultimately, new shopping channels require more cohesive measurement and sharing of performance metrics. As a result, retailers must ensure they are able to measure and quantify the impact of their omni-channel strategy. Thirty-one percent of leaders indicate they can quantify the impact of their strategy and have the data to validate it, and an additional 46% can quantify it, but do so using a soft measurement (i.e. a gut feel). Followers, by comparison, are less than half as likely to quantify the impact of their strategy (16% and 19%, respectively). Quantifying the omni-channel impact also requires retailers to rethink how they measure success. For example, according to Aberdeen s September 211 Mobile and Tablet Demystified report, the most important metrics to measure include customer satisfaction, percentage of business from repeat customers, gross margin, cross-sell and up-sell, and marketing s contribution to company revenue. Measuring these metrics is all part of the strategy to reap expanded commerce benefits, such as improved customer satisfaction, improved customer profitability, and increased brand awareness. The standardization and measurement of omni-channel performance metrics cannot be ignored. The wide assortment of metrics for various channels indicates that establishing standard performance metrics will allow retailers to better understand their omni-channel success. Figure 5 on the following page indicates that leaders are more consistent than followers in the measurement of inventory and customer satisfaction metrics across channels, sharing of performance metrics across channels, and to provide metric-based compensation to employees. Customer satisfaction is the driver of personalized relationships; as consumers move through the buying channels, retailers need to build on these relationships. To understand better how the customer perceives the brand, retailers need to develop customer s6/24 RetailSolutionsOnline.com l April 213 l Omni-Channel Special Report

7 8 Figure 5: Leaders' Use Of Omni-Channel Metrics Percentage of respondents 71% 64% 46% 43% 19% 32% 2% 14% Inventory metrics measured and tracked across channels Sharing of performance metrics Metric-based compensation incentives Leaders Followers Measurement of CSAT at every touch-point satisfaction guidelines and inquiries for every channel. These inquiries include POS CSAT surveys, in-store intercepts, mystery shopping, social media monitoring, and call center campaigns. Key Takeaways Customer preferences and affinities are ushering in the new era of omni-channel retailing. Unfortunately, many retailers are still not equipped to handle the customer demands associated with an omni-channels strategy. Leading retailers have identified three core areas where they are making improvements to fulfill a true omnichannel customer experience: ensuring product availability across all channels, developing an omni-channel marketing strategy, and establishing omni-channel performance metrics. As retailers move towards an anytime, anywhere strategy, inventory availability is the key. But the strategy needs to go beyond aligning merchandise across channels; retailers need to market accordingly and measure the results. Omni-channel performance metrics, and the active measurement of them, will be the driving factor behind future strategic decisions. New technologies will drive these capabilities as more retailers move operations to the cloud and employ mobile devices in all aspects of the business from the warehouse, to the store floor, to the corporate office. n Aberdeen conducts primary research studies from a pool of over 5, panel participants. The results of each research survey are indexed and tabulated using a proprietary analytical framework which provides a solid basis for deriving fact-based analysis and findings. Aberdeen's research provides specific insight by industry sector, company size, and geography, as well as by job role, business process, and technology. Chris Cunnane is a research analyst for the retail, hospitality, and banking practices with Aberdeen Group. Cunnane s research focuses on customer-facing technologies within retail to identify the practices, technologies, and behaviors that separate best-inclass retailers from their peers. Cunnane s retail coverage focuses on the customer experience, and topics include cross-channel retail, customer loyalty, enterprise marketing, and campaign management. RetailSolutionsOnline.com l April 213 l Omni-Channel Special Report s7/25

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